If you listen closely, you’ll hear the Brits go “ribbit”

“Frogs.” A not-very-polite-or-modern but surprisingly well-used British nickname for the French. Over the years I lived in France, I came to know the relatively-harmless, mostly-unreciprocated contempt my British friends and coworkers had for the French. Here’s the thing, though. I’ve now lived in the UK almost as long as I lived in France, and I…

Jolly Good: 5 British Expressions I Love (and 2 I Hate)

OK, so I laugh derisively whenever one of my coworkers, who’s basically an old Englishman trapped inside a young Englishman’s body, says “jolly good”… but secretly I find it a little endearing. British expressions are excellent day-to-day entertainment for this expat, and I’ve even adopted a few of them (with mixed results). Here are just five of…

One Giant Mud Puddle: Getting Lost in the Lake District

England is not known for its mountains, especially when compared to the rest of the UK. Before I visited the Lake District, I pictured gently ambling among low lakes and rolling hills. The first indication that I might be mistaken was the expression on the Derwentwater Hostel manager’s face when I described the route I…

One-Week Wander: Mallorca

I love to be outdoors, but this love (and my overall spirits) dim in cold, wet January and February. A few weeks ago, I found my shivering, pale self researching the destinations closest to London that might offer a tiny bit of mid-winter sun and relatively dry walking trails, at a budget price and with…

My Muddy Valentine

What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Candle-lit dinner? Chocolates? Roses? Hurriedly arranging to leave the city so you wouldn’t be lying when you told someone you’d been on a few dates with that you already had plans?  Ahem.  The “Night Riviera” train leaves London Paddington at 11:45pm several times a week and travels the…

Time Travel: Spring 2014 – Hiking the Gorges du Verdon

I’ve sung the praises of France’s wonderful network of hiking trails before– it’s one of the things I miss most about living there. But I haven’t yet shared the five days I spent on one of the most glorious of those paths: the GR4, through the Gorges du Verdon in southeastern France. Le throwback… Sometimes…

Walking in the “Peak” (Hill) District

Yes, I am throwing a little shade with that post title, mostly because the “peaks” of the Peak District throw almost none. But despite its decidedly tame topography, this national park’s gentle hills and misty moors are completely enchanting. I had the good luck to make it up there twice this spring– once on my…

Heaven is a Train From Hell

The number of times a day I think the words people are the worst probably qualifies me as a misanthrope. Or maybe just someone who loves people so much at their best that she’s let down when they fall short? Yeeeeah, that’s it. Don’t worry, I’m hard on myself, too. Anyway, a long-distance train so packed that…

Two-Day Wander: Oban, Scotland

I still can’t fully explain why visiting Scotland feels like I’m mainlining some missing part of my soul, but my trip to Oban last fall was no exception. Located on the west coast of Scotland (the Firth of Lorn, to be exact – isn’t that a lovely name?), Oban’s an easy, scenic train ride from…