Tessie & The Britishisms

Welcome to the page where I tell you how things are different in a place that is altogether very similar to Canada. The little things that throw you off, make you crinkle your nose or fall over laughing. Welcome to:




The cars: are all hatchbacks (pretty much)

The cars: are all new (no old beaters anywhere.)

The cars: drive on the wrong side of the road.

right is left, up is down, dogs walk on their hind legs

Lemonade: Here it’s sprite/7up/clear lemon lime soda of the sort. If you want real lemonade you best ask for “homemade lemonade.” If you want a tasty treat try a:

Shandy. Its a mix or lager and “lemonade.” Or you can ask for a the Thom Smalley special;

Lager Tops. (which mister parker mcgrath went crazy for!) A lil splish of lemons atop your lager. fancy that.

Toilets: Okay. Here we go. This one is out of control. You go around thinking Britain is fancy and proper until you have to use the “loo”, which isn’t really a used term. As soon as nature calls you best be ready to be mocked when you ask for a “washroom” or “bathroom”. “Oy, you mean the toilets, yeah they’re round back.” UGH. gross. toilets. thats the thing i poop into. not the room where i go to wash my hands and check my makeup. And you hear people say things like “oh yeah Thom, he’s in the toilet.” WHAT! someone help him! how can he even fit? then you see signs like “female toilets” as if the ceramic bowls are living gendered beings. ughk.

no doors, no stalls, no sinks….just toilets…and female ones at that

Chavs: So this one isn’t so much a thing that’s different in Canada vs. Britain as much as its a purely British term.  Let me just steal this one right from urban dictionary as they do such a good job describing them:

  • The male of the species, the ‘chav’, is often to be found lurking in braying packs close to fast food outlets or late night stores. It displays a distinctive livery with which it attempts to attract the female (‘chavette’) – most commonly, the Burberry-effect baseball cap (placed at a jaunty angle, sometimes partially covering the face – this is known in some cultures as ‘snidey’); the ‘sports’ clothing (this is somewhat confusing as the chav is not renowned for its athletic abilities) and countless items of ‘bling’ (Chav patois meaning jewellery or other adornments). The origins of said ‘bling’ are various as the chav typically possesses neither a means of employment or indeed any type of education. Chavettes, meanwhile, tend to have hair in at least two colours, ill-fitting tops and white tracksuit tops (usually Kappa). Note their ornate ‘love bites’: tribal cicatrices around the neck, usually perpetrated by a near-toothless male known as Kev, Daz, Gaz, Baz, Tez or some other monosyllabic name.
  • the Chav

the Chavette

Chips: I’m sure a lot of you have gone through this lil disagreement before but what the English call Chips we call fries and what we call chips the brits call crisps. Their chips are larger and generally less crispy. Since I always hunt down the tasty tiny crispy fries I’m gonna cast my vote and say that Canadian fries win over British chips.

Crisps: The flavours are generally the same: salt and vinegar, bbq, smokey bacon, salted, cheezy puffs but then they’re missing tasty things like dill pickle, ketchup, and all dressed. What they DO have: roast chicken, beef & onion, prawn cocktail (yeah you heard it here ladies),  pickled onion and marmite.

Shrimp Chips?

Marmite: Pronounced Maamite. Rich in B Vitamins. 100% Vegetarian. Yeast extract. Hmm… It’s this fancy spread for toast and sandwiches. Smells like soya sauce. I’ll let you know when I try it….until then….yeast extract…….. (there’s also something called Vegemite….i’ll investigate and let you know)


Flask: a travel mug is known as a flask. I keep thinking people are sneaking clean brandy for their morning commute. ha!

Washing up liquid: Dish Soap. Washing up is what they call doing the dishes so that part sits just fine with me. What gets me is “Liquid”….so ambiguous. It could really be anything…that’s not really something I can get behind.


Nappies: Are Diapers. They sound one heck of a lot cuter. But then, everything in this country sounds that way.

Jetty: A dock. Like on the water. where you might walk out onto a lake, dip your toes in, maybe cast a line and spend a nice lazy afternoon. A jetty!! what’s all this then!

Happy and Glorious

Golden Syrup: Not quite maple syrup, but England’s answer to it. The kind of sugary syrup you would put on your pancakes…

Pancakes: are crepes. if you want a normal pancake thats a scotch pancake. and certainly not a flapjack.

Flapjack: It’s like a big pan of oatmeal cookie. You cut it into lil squares and it the treat! it’s wonderful!

Are You Alright: Okay. Sooo this one took me back and is taking a while to get used it. It’s a greeting much like ‘How are you’ or the more colloquial ‘sup.’ When I first arrived I was thrown way off. Are you alright feels like something is very wrong. People are concerned. There is concern enough to ask…that must mean they’re really concerned. It was my 2nd night at the Smalley family home. The smell of weddings in the air and more sisters than you could shake a stick at.  I was a little lagged on behalf of the jets so I slept in that morning. Hoards of Smalleys were all hustling and bustling aboot when I entered the kitchen bright eyed and bushy tailed.  A slew of  ‘Are you alrights’ headed at me. ‘Oy! You! Y’alright?’ Yeah… I’m fine.. I just slept in…Hole.E. Moley! That must not be alright. I had to take Thommy buoy aside later that day and ask if i looked sad or something. He explained it and mocked me…you know…like a supportive partner should. I’m slowly starting to come around to it now. I don’t really have much choice. You hear everyone say it all the time- everywhere. I understand that it can be a pleasant greeting but it still feels like something’s wrong. At least ‘how are you’ is a nice unbiased question and doesn’t make me feel like I have something on my face.

Poorly: It means sick. ‘I am porly.’ I suppose this comes from ‘feeling poorly’ … fair enough. But it isn’t “I feel poorly” but “I’m poorly” oh, and here’s the kicker. It sounds like Pauly.  ‘Ah y’alriiii?’ ‘No, I’m Pauly.’ OY!

Pudding:This? (below)

North American Pudding

Nope. Here in the Queen’s country pudding is a broad term referring to any and all desserts. (usually referring to homemade desserts rather than restaurants treats – you might call those ‘desserts’) huh…go figure.

British Pudding

Trifle:  (above) An example of what one might call a pudding. extravagantly executed my a mrs carol smalley, trifle is a big tasty bowl of fruit, whipped cream, sponge cake, jam, nuts, custard and other wonderful sweets! Mmmm…

Cream Tea: Why it’s called this I’ll never know. Why I love it so, I’m not sure I’m ready to ask myself. Cream tea is not at all as it sounds. It seems like a tasty Earl Grey with a splish of milk. HECK NO DUMMY. Cream tea is a cuppa your choice of tea, and one tasty (and in the case of the photo below) freshly baked scone sliced in two and jam packed (PUN INTENDED) with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Holy God in heaven…..

Cream Tea

Clotted Cream: Oh Lordy. Whoever decided this would be such a repulsive name for such a tasty and perfect treat really needs to sort it out. Clotted cream is a thick cream unlike any dairy like creamy treat I’ve had before. It’s thick and spreadable (but not as thick as the viscosity of cream cheese.) The taste is sweet but not overly sweet like whipped cream, its not sugary though…and would be decribed only as the perfect accompanyment to strawberry jam. Pretty much you need to get your tongue knee deep in this and try it yourself.


2 thoughts on “Tessie & The Britishisms

  1. Pingback: Lincoln and the Steepest of Hills « wanderaboot

  2. Pingback: A stroll to the Major Oak « wanderaboot

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