- Problem: I'm on the verge of going "Van Gogh" (may the reader understand) over the lack of Britishness in my life. I'm tired of watching American television. What's the closest thing I can get to ITV or BBC outside of 2 minute clips on YouTube? Please help...
Solution: Wisely surfing the Internet and BBC America.
I could mention Netflix here as an option, but everyone already knows that Netflix will carry the non-truncated BBC version of the Cumberbatch Sherlock and other miniseries that we get here in the U.S. with about 10 minutes shaved off each episode when it airs. /sigh...
Anyhow, see if your cable provider carries BBC America. While the programming is limited and occasionally has nothing to do with the U.K. (Star Trek comes to mind - what does this have to do with Britain other than Patrick Stewart?), you *will* have new seasons of Top Gear, Gordon Ramsay spin offs and reruns of British classics like House of Cards. True, it won't be your average every day authentic BBC programming (if onlllyyyy!), but it's close enough for Government work.
Then there's Tunnelbear. I recently discovered this and have yet to try it out, but I'm researching it at the moment. Basically, it's a VPN (Virtual Private Network) program that lets you circumvent geoblocking of Internet media across continents. Before you start biting your nails, NO this is not illegal. Go here for a solid rundown from PC magazine of what Tunnelbear does. It will make you smile when you realize that getting through to the BBC website's media will be wonderfully easy! So smile. :-)
- Problem: I'm one of those weird Americans who think the SuperBowl is a waste of time. I'm bored. I also love Scotland (YAASSS!). I've seen Braveheart too many times and I can only eat so much Walker's shortbread....help me?
Solution: Look around in your area for the upcoming Highland Games. Problem solved. As Jolly Boy John would say, "FOR REAL!"
|THE PIPES! THE PIPES!|
In my area, we have some very good Highland games indeed. The Rural Hill Scottish Festival is a godsend for Caledoniaphiles: there's also a small market at the festival to buy British import delicacies. You can spend a good chunk of your wallet on this alone. (Erm...not that I ever have...heh..heh..) They usually run for a solid weekend, so buy tickets for the entire festival if you can and dig in. On the drive over, play the soundtrack to Braveheart in the car or better yet, put on some Albannach, a Scottish rock/folk band that does it the TRADITIONAL WAY! They're rebellious, proud and wild without being too cheeky, so I'm a big fan.
Highland games seem to be more popular in the Southeastern United States than anywhere else, but I may be wrong. Type in "Scottish Festival" and your Google browser will do the rest of the work.
Or just buy a croquet set. Seriously. It may come in handy when you throw your own Anglophile party this summer. Just think: some shandys, tea and sandwiches on the lawn, some union jack bunting and some Holst, Butterworth or Elgar on the iPod and you're ready to leave the cardboard American life behind you for some quality English time.
That's it for now. Next week: how using your imagination can often be the best escape to the Sceptered Isle and the best places to meet desperate people just like you (desperate for the U.K., that is)...
*I had forgotten to mention Abigail Rogers's e-book "Cooks and Queens" in my last post! Abigail is a fanastic gal and ardent advocate of all things British; her book looks at how British food is actually underestimated, whether it's Bubble and Squeak or a Cornish pasty and has recipes, historical background on different eras of food, the whole lot. Visit her blog Picture Britain while you are at it!