Posts tagged United Kingdom
Top 5 Pros and Cons to Being an Expat in the U.K.

When my husband and I had the opportunity to move overseas to the U.K. we jumped at the idea! We had just gotten married and thought what better way to start our life together than having this once in a lifetime adventure?! We thought of all the places we would go, all the things we would see, and all the things we would learn. Sure, we knew that there would be challenges. Moving to a new place is always hard, let alone when it's a 9-hour flight from anyone you know. We sold our first home that we owned for merely a year before getting the news of this opportunity. I told myself "It's just things, you can replace them." We sold much of our furniture which we had just bought to fill this house and the rest we have stored. I was prepared to miss some of the conveniences of living in a place that was familiar but was more than ready for this new adventure. 

We have been over in the U.K. now for just over 6 months. We have already visited 4 different countries in the time that we have been here and have made some incredible memories. Neither my husband and I have any regrets about the decision we made and still feel grateful for the experience. Having said that it does not mean that every day has been a cake walk and that there haven't been moments of complete frustration in trying to acclimate to a new country and culture. I thought I would share what I feel have been the best things about living here and the most frustrating. So here we go-


1.  Produce- 

The produce here in the U.K. is truly incredible! For the first month, I was eating like 6 servings of fruit a day because it was all so delicious! Probably taking in more sugar than I needed to but I was obsessed. When we left MN we were buying organic as much as possible we were planning on continuing with that as we moved overseas. We had a much harder time finding organic produce here in the U.K. but after more research found that buying organic is less important here as they have much more strict laws on how crops are treated. The first thing we noticed is that all the produce is very small in comparison to U.S. produce. Likely due to lack of GMOs and other pesticides. Below is a great info graph that will break down some of the big ones.

2.      Travel Opportunities

One of the things we looked forward to most to moving to the U.K was the ability to travel to countries throughout the EU with ease. Ireland is a 30 minute plane ride away! It's crazy how much cheaper it is to travel from country to country here in EU vs how much it costs to fly city to city in the US. I mean an hour flight from Minneapolis to Chicago easily costs your $300. Here we can fly from Birmingham to Paris for $75. It really makes me wonder what the heck these American airlines are doing.. 

3.      History

There is just so much history over here in the U.K. We have sat in pubs that are older than the U.S! Castles, ruins, historical homes are just a stone’s throw away just about anywhere you go. We have 2 of the top 10 historical sites within 30 minutes of our house. We initially were so concerned about going to other countries that we forgot about everything in our area. We have recently been trying to see more around here. 

4.      Driving

So, most people may be surprised to see this on my list. Driving on the other side of the road?! Round-a-bouts?! WHAT?! Initially it is a bit overwhelming to acclimate but it's best to just jump on in. The longer you wait, the more you build it up in your head. Driving here is more fast paced and aggressive, the roads are crazy narrow, and people park on whichever side of the road they want. Again this may confuse some of you.. It might be more difficult to drive here initially. There drivers test is much more intensive- you first need to get a provisional license to even begin practicing driving. You then have to take a written theory test. After passing that you take an hour long driving test. From my understanding, few pass the first time. 

Drivers here are much less distracted because it's more fast paced you can't be multi-tasking or you are guaranteed to get into an accident. I have come to find that aggressive driving doesn't translate to bad driving as long as you are not distracted. The interstate here is great because you can only pass someone on the right. It is actually ILLEGAL to pass someone on the left. So you never get stuck in a situation where you are stuck behind 3 drivers going under the speed limit. The right lane is for passing, the middle is par on course, and the left is for slow and exits. It's AMAZING! I am not a road rager but driving back in the States after driving here I found extremely frustrated! The Brit's know how to drive.


5.      Temperate Weather (in comparison to MN)

Ok so another shocker I know.. This is more of a personal preference. I only like very hot weather when I am near a body of water. Since that doesn't happen often in the UK I am happy with the 70 degree summer days and the 40 degree winter days. The winters are drizzly here but they are still warmer than Minnesota winters so I am happy to throw on a waterproof parka and still walk around outside most of the day than only being able to be outside for 5 minutes between running from the car to the store. I am also a sweaty person by nature so not having to worry about constantly pitting out is a bonus! Not to mention having the windows open in the summer and getting that fresh air :)



1.      Weather App is worthless

Although overall, I prefer the more temperate weather here in the UK dressing for the day is near impossible most of the time. Because the U.K. is an island the weather changes in a matter of minutes and the Weather App never seems to keep up. So, you must always carry a rain jacket, umbrella, and sunglasses. It will say 0% chance of rain and sure enough in the afternoon you get a drizzle for 20 minutes. 

2.      Lack of Healthy Food Options For Going Out

As a healthy living enthusiast, I do my best to eat healthy as much as possible. I do my best to cook most meals during week but sometimes you just want to be able to grab something quick. Our first 3 months here we struggled to find even a decent salad at restaurants. Everything here is just so heavy. Fish and chips, Indian curry’s, pub food. All good when it's a Saturday night and you are hanging in the pub but sometimes you need a good salad or some grilled veggies to get you through the week. 

3.      Bad Customer Service

So I am not saying that I have never received good service while being here but it has certainly been in the minority. This is something even the Brit's acknowledge. Many say customer service in the States makes them feel like kings in comparison. You get bare bones here and sometimes not even that...  Tipping is not really a thing here in Europe and I believe that has a direct correlation with service. There is no incentive to be attentive to customers. You may sit for 10 minutes before a server comes to get your order and then at the end of the meal you have to hunt down the server to get your check. We have learned to manage our expectations when we go out now. Never go in a hurry!

4.      Drafty in the Winter

Because places are so old they often are not well insulated. During the winter, you may not want to remove your coat the entire evening. The damp climate does not help the situation either. Layer up!

5.      No clothing dryers

O man this is a real pain to me. We must hang dry all of our clothes. ALL OF THEM. Underwear, towels, etc.. 4 days a week our living room looks a panty raid. We have to do so many loads because the washer is tiny. Not to mention the crunchiness. What I wouldn't give for a fluffy towel... There is not enough fabric softener in the world to create a fluffy towel without a dryer. It also makes doing laundry last minute a thing of the past. If you want an outfit for Saturday night, it better be washed up on Thursday. Goodbye to the days of being too lazy to iron and throwing your shirt back in the dryer for 10 minutes. 

Local Eats- Haddie & Trilby
Haddie and Trilby located at 10 Regent St, Leamington Spa CV32 5HQ

Haddie and Trilby located at 10 Regent St, Leamington Spa CV32 5HQ

Behind the Scenes of Haddie and Trilby

*** Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to find the recipe for the Haddie and Trilby House Loaf that started it all***

If it’s not apparent already. I have a real passion for food. I love the process of being in the kitchen and creating something that will not only nourish your body but will be something that is also beautiful and appealing to all your senses.  As much as I enjoy being on the development side of cooking, I just as much enjoy being on the receiving end… I find inspiration in what others create, flavor profiles I myself never thought to put together, ingredients I never heard of or thought to use, and the beautiful presentation which can be put on a plate.  It’s a truly beautiful thing!

So, when I decided to begin blogging about local restaurants and establishments, I wanted to find places that were unique and special. Places that perhaps took an item we may eat or encounter every day and added their own twist and passion.

It did not take me long to discover Haddie and Trilby (H&T) of Leamington Spa. I walk by it every day as I am heading to teach or have errands in town. The first time I walked by I found myself mesmerized by the beautiful treats, cakes, and breads they have in the window. I was particularly hypnotized by what I can only describe as a whipped cloud fluff. I know now that these “fluffs” are actually hard meringues, and are common in the UK, but not so much in the US.  I imagined that these large sugar fluffs came from the same place where unicorns, double rainbows, and fairies reside.  MAGICAL.

When I approached George, the owner of Haddie and Trilby, he was more than happy to oblige me and my little blog. He invited me in on a Monday when they were closed to sit and chat with him about H&T. Upon my arrival George offered me a plethora of drink options, many of which were coffee based. I am not much of a coffee drinker so I asked for tea. He offered a Lemon Verbena herbal tea. It was just fresh lemon verbena leaves with hot water and it was delicious 😊As it turned out those little leaves were locally grown and bartered from a local customer for bread… but more on that later…


George on the right.

George on the right.

George- The Man, The Legend, The Baker

George is the owner and founder of Haddie and Trilby. You may be surprised to hear (just like I was) that he did not have a long career as a baker. He actually worked for many years as a Sound Engineer for the BBC Radio. George always had a passion for food but had no formal training. He would cook at home and try to recreate meals he and his wife had on their travels but it was mostly a hobby. His journey into baking really began when he and his family moved outside of Leamington in search of the “country life”. While living in the country, George and his wife found there was no place nearby to buy fresh-quality bread, so he started baking at home with a breadmaker he bought for 30 Pounds.  His breadmaker eventually broke which led George to start making the bread by hand.  In no time, he was making 5-10 loaves per week, most of which are the house bread loaves which can still be found at H&T today.  (Recipe at bottom of page)

George’s passion for baking began to grow… he started taking courses to learn more and even worked in some local bakeries in the evening for free to hone in his techniques!  Eventually, with more knowledge and practice under his belt he decided it was time to open his own place. That’s when the idea for Haddie and Trilby was born. He thought if he was so desperate for a loaf of real bread in town there must be others in search as well.


Like Elephants, Real Bread Cannot be Rushed...

So who are Haddie and Trilby and why name your bakery that? Well for many in the Leamington Spa area Haddie and Trilby are local legends. Back during the Victorian Era a Leamington Spa native man named Sam Lockhart began training elephants for the circus.  He trained dozens of elephants but the most famous were the 3 Graces; Haddie, Trilby and Wilhelmina.

In his search for the perfect name, George thought he should create a name which would tie his bakery to Leamington without restricting location for potential future growth.  Haddie and Trilby was a perfect fit for like elephants, real bread cannot be rushed. For those of you wondering why Wihelmina didn’t make the cut, don’t worry the oven is named Wilhelmina. So the 3 Graces remain intact.


Real Bread is Coming...

In 2014 George was getting ready to open Haddie and Trilby. The only marketing he used was to simply put a sign in the window which read, “Real Bread is Coming”. To his pleasant surprise, there was a line out the door opening day and it hasn’t slowed much sense in the 3 years it’s been open.  I walk by most days and see people standing out the door waiting to get their hands on the beautiful and delicious food that is wonderfully displayed in H&Ts windows Tuesday thru Saturday. If you want to ensure you get the best of the best you better come early!  Haddie and Trilby opens at 7AM and closes when everything is sold out. Most things are set by 9:00 AM.


Waste Not Want Not.

As if I needed another reason to love H&T any more… did you know that many of the ingredients used in the amazing baked goods are from local residents that bartered for free bread? That means, if you have an apple tree that produces more apples than you can consume… bring them into H&T and George may swap them out for some free bread!  ! I LOVE THAT! Oh BTW – that lemon verbena tea I mentioned I was drinking earlier… someone had bartered that for free bread too.  Incredible!

Seasons are the biggest inspiration for what is created in the kitchen. George wants to cook with the fresh, local ingredients that are in season. This helps ensure the quality of ingredients and creates a variety we all long for as the seasons change.

Another way George is reducing food waste is by donating any leftovers to local food shelters. This may seem like a no brainer, but UK restaurants throw out over 600,000 tons of food a year. Most of which could have been used by local food kitchens. Starbucks is an example of a large company that is trying to reduce this number. They have begun distributing their soon to expire food to local shelters in several major cities. Their goal is to launch worldwide by 2021.

Imagine the impact if every restaurant took this approach??


Baking With Love

When I asked George where the inspiration for his creations came from he said it was a variety of places. The season has a large role as that dictates what ingredients may be available, but inspiration can come from travels, reading things online, and also whatever the staff may be excited to try. The last was what intrigued me the most. Although George only employs two individuals with actual culinary training, all the staff have an opportunity to experiment and bake. George of course wants to ensure that H&T is an efficient workplace but it is also critical that he and his staff have time to create and experiment.

When I spent my morning behind the scenes I got to see how this works. One of the staff had made up a new cake batter and was tasked with deciding what to do with the cake. All the staff had a taste and gave ideas and feedback. This of course was all happening in the mad chaos of trying to get that day’s goodies out. It was like a sprint think tank.


To Infinity and Beyond!

So, the bakery thing is panning out pretty well, but what is next for H&T? Well George has a few ideas up his sleeve… classes being the main one. George is hoping to offer classes to those who want to learn more about making delicious things (Breads, cakes, pizzas). It’s just a matter of finding the time to plan it all out. George disclosed to me that sometimes he needs a little harassing to get things done, so if you would be interested in these classes feel free to bother him about it when you are in picking up your bread 😊 I say that selfishly as I would like to learn how to make a delicious bread 😊


The Most Important Thing..

Let’s be real, what you are most interested in is what you should try right? I would agree…. But truthfully, even though you could be very happy walking out with one of everything, your tummy and your waistline may be mad at you later… 

 Here are the things I would recommend trying first:


Rye- I buy a loaf every week. It’s so dense and moist. Perfect lightly toasted with my peanut butter.

House- Classic but delicious. Perfect for a basic sandwich or as garlic bread with pasta.


Salted Caramel Flap Jack- rich and decadent and who doesn’t love salted caramel anything??

Fruit Tart- My husband got this for me on my birthday in leu of a cake and it DID NOT disappoint!


Sandwich special- every day H&T has 2 or 3 sandwich’s ready to serve up… made with their delicious bread usually a specialty cheese and some other seasonal goodies.

Focaccia- This makes a great lunch or savory breakfast. The egg veggie focaccia is delicious! Light and fluffy.

Pizza Night

Ok, full disclosure- I have yet to make it to pizza night on Thursdays. Sadly, I teach a class until about 9 so have not been able to make it. But I have heard nothing but amazing things and there is a line out the door as per usual. So, get there early or be ready to do take away as seating is limited.

The House Loaf


300g Organic Strong White Flour  

50g Maize Flour

50g Light Rye Flour

70g Malted Wheat Flakes

10g Fine Sea salt

2g Dried Yeast (Or 150g Wheat Sourdough Starter)

340g Water


1. Put everything in a bowl and mix together with ONE hand

until it looks like a sticky mess and the flour is all

mixed in.

2. Put a tea towel over the top and leave in the fridge or

somewhere cool for 8-12 hours.

3. Tip the dough out onto a lightly oiled worktop & fold it

and stretch it for 30 seconds, then place into a new clean

lightly oiled bowl. Cover with tea towel and leave it out

in the warm kitchen.

4. Repeat step 3 after 20 minutes another 2 times.

5. After the third time it should look very different to

yesterday! If not repeat step 3 again!

6. Place the dough into a suitable lightly oiled tin and leave

covered with a tea towel in warm kitchen until it has risen

a lot and looks like it wants to be baked! About 1 hour

should do.

7. Bake in the hottest oven for 15 minutes then have a look

and turn the temperature down to about 180-200c and bake

for another 10-20 until it sounds hollow when tapped.

8. Eat when cooled if you can wait!

Haddie and Trilby Info:

Haddie and Trilby is located at 10 Regent St, Leamington Spa CV32 5HQ

Hours- Tuesday- Saturday 7AM until they run out