Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Wheatabix in Wales

This morning I sat down for breakfast in Wales.

I am here visiting Louisa and her family in the Welsh countryside in Llanllwni, Carmarthenshire, Wales.

All about are the greenest of fields, dark rolling hills (they call them the Black Mountains), hedges and lots and lots of sheep.  I keep exclaiming how wonderfully English my moments are. However, that is no longer precisely true-- Wales is decidedly its own place-- all the road signs are perplexingly lettered--they are in Welsh!

My experiences continue not only geographicaly and culturally, but now in the realm of self discovery. Despite being in Wales, Louisa family is very much English. In this most unlikely of places, I discovering much about my childhood upbringing and my subliminal English heritage.

You see, my father spent a few years in England before he was married. My father and mother also spent some time in England right after they were married. I am discovering just how influential this time was on them-- and me. Aspects of my upbringing that I took for granted as 'normal' are now being revealed to me as exceptional and decidedly English.

This morning as I had breakfast at the Harrington dinning table I noticed the placemats featuring scenes of the English countryside. They were just like back at my parent's dinning table. It struck me that in all my time living in North America, I have never seen any such placemats in any other home. This was my first time seeing them elsewhere. I was assured that here in England they are available at department stores and quite common. In Canada, they are not common!

The plates and bowls also had ornate english scenes in a green monotone-- just like at our dinning table.   The preserves, the marmite, the Weetabix!   Noboby eats Wheatabix or marmite in Canada!  Yet all these were definitive elements of my upbringing's tabletop. Then there are the castles and knights I played with, boiled eggs, marmelade, afternoon tea, and my Dad's penchant for classical music.  

What does this all mean? Well, it is sure interesting. Each little discovery brings back a flood of memories and a flash of understanding. I supposed it feels a little like learning the name of new tree or bush in a forest. It doesn't change anything in the forest, but it does deepen one's understanding of how everything is interconnected.   

I am discovering that little bits of English culture like this are trees that make up the Forest of Russell.

1 comment:

Jacquie said...

Dear Russ,

Actually, lots of Canadians eat Weetabix...though I don't know about the Marmite! I know several Canuks who love it toasted with butter & jam, or with melted sharp cheddar cheese and jam. I am Weetabix brand manager for Weetabix North America and know that Canadians definitely love and long for Weetabix! Glad to see you writing about Weetabix - I hope you eat it in the best of health!