Category Archives: Amusing things

Thank Crunchie It’s Friday! – A Royal Easter Egg, Hot Cross Buns and a dose of nostalgia

crunchie

The other day I walked into my local supermarket and was immediately drawn to the chocolate section – no great change there – but this time I was hit by a wave of nostalgia as I spied the neatly stacked boxes of Cadbuy’s Crunchie Easter Eggs.

It’s not that I haven’t seen chocolate Easter Eggs over here in the US, although they certainly don’t seem to go in for them on the same scale as back home. Some years when Christmas was still a recent memory, whole supermarket aisles would be taken over, floor to ceiling, with as many varieties of Easter Egg as you could imagine. Some would fit into a teacup, and others could weigh as much as a small child. The standard package though was usually a hand-sized milk chocolate hollow egg, surrounded by two chocolate bars. And Crunchie was always my favourite.

As a child I couldn’t understand people who saved their Easter Eggs, making them last long into the summer months. My view was that if I didn’t eat the chocolate, someone else might, so by the evening of Easter Sunday I was always looking a little green and feeling sorry for myself.

These days, I have to rely on my sister sending me ‘Easter Egg care packages’ from the UK to satisfy my cravings, or just go without, which I know is the more sensible option. But, where’s the fun in that?

easter eggs

Talking of fun, I read an article recently about the Royal Easter Egg which is made by Nick Crean, the Royal Warrant Holder for fine chocolates, in his London factory. Made of dark chocolate, it weighs 4lbs and is filled with lots of goodies.

Photo: Andrew Crowley

Photo: Andrew Crowley

You can read the whole article on how they create the Royal Egg here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/9946679/An-Easter-egg-for-the-Queen.html

Finally, if after all that chocolate, you need some carbs to soak it all up…here is one of my favourite recipes for Hot Cross Buns. They’re really easy to make, and taste SO delicious!

I found the crosses a bit too much bother to make out of dough though, so I just use icing which works great.

http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/hot-cross-buns/

hot cross buns

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Create your own blog word cloud!

callaghan word cloud

I recently  came across a cool little website called http://www.wordle.net that makes word clouds from your website or any text you want to use.

I thought i’d try out my blog to see what came out, which words appear most often and how arty you can make it look!

It’s a fun way to pass a few minutes on a Friday afternoon!

Here’s another one that I made for one of my songs “Best Year”….You can download the song for free from http://www.noisetrade.com/callaghan and see if the picture below fits the mood of the song!

 

Best Year Callaghan word cloud

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It’s not too late for New Years Resolutions…as long as they’re fun!

funny new years resolutions

 

As the first weeks of the New Year pass by, those New Years Resolutions that were set leading up to Christmas are probably already getting some of us down. Plans that seemed so virtuous now just seem like a drag. So I thought I would share some more easily kept New Years Resolutions that are just a little bit more fun!

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Top Ten Christmas Gift Ideas For The Person Who Has Everything…Including More Money Than Sense!

It’s that time of year again.

When the colorful lights decorate homes and city streets, store fronts are invitingly decked out with festive cheer, the cold nights draw in tempting you to indulge in some guilt free consumption of comfort food and warming alcohol, and for some reason, it’s the time of year when people start buying the craziest of things.

People who may have been, for the previous 11 months, totally normal now make it their mission to find and purchase items for friends, family members and co-workers, spending their hard earned dollars or pounds on useless and unwanted gifts that will be relocated to a basement, utility room or dusty drawer come December 26th.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a scrooge. In fact, I am one of the biggest suckers out there for anything that seems vaguely Christmassy – my tree goes up in November! But what happened to “it’s the thought that counts”? It seems that nowadays the stores bombard us with so many items and pressure to buy that any gift is better than no gift at all, despite the fact that we probably all reached the point of not really needing anything a long time ago.

I was reminded of this fact when the Christmas Catalogues started pouring into my mail box. I started flicking through some of them and was absolutely amazed – and pretty entertained – by some of the gift ideas on offer. Here are a few of my favourites. And remember, someone somewhere was paid to go to work, sit at their desk, and invent these products in the hope of getting them under your tree this Christmas…

 

1. Snowball/ Snow Block Maker Set

Snowball maker

For only $14.95 you can take the fun completely out of snowball fights with this useful gadget.

No more frozen hands preparing your icy weapons, this handy kit also shaves valuable hours off constructing the snow blocks for your Christmas ice house. I’m currently splitting my time between Nashville and Atlanta so this would be really good for all those snowy days!

 

2. Cell Phone Sanitizer

Cell phone sanitizer

Christmas is a time for catching up with family, friends and loved ones.

Don’t let it also be a time for catching germs.

This battery-powered sanitizer is a carefree way of erasing the memory of the unimaginably unsanitary places your cell phone and bluetooth devices have been in the last 11 months.

3. Her Majesty’s Umbrella

Her Majesty's Umbrella

Want to give a gift of royal quality?

Look no further than this genuine HRH Queen Elizabeth-approved plastic umbrella.

Featuring “easy opening and closing, and black regal trim”, this gift will bring a touch of class to your festivities this year.

It’s not quite as good as Mary Poppins’ umbrella which allows you to fly, but those are out of stock!

(Please note: regal looking senior citizen not included)

 

4.  The Light Show Music Player

The Light Show Music Player

Who needs fancy stereo sound systems, or expensive firework extravaganzas, when all your party is waiting for is this state of the art music player.

Your guests will be high on party atmosphere as they experience the “dazzling light show”, and measuring in at “no larger than a box of tissues” you know you’re going to get the sound quality your Christmas event deserves.

No one gets left out at this party – The Light Show Music Player comes fully equipped with a remote control so you can DJ from the dance floor. Or just switch to the built in AM/FM function and let someone else do the work while you dance the night away.

 

5. The Hands Free Wine Aerator

The Hands Free Wine Aerator

The Holidays can be such a stressful time – people visiting day and night, and a huge pressure to be the perfect host.

The Hands Free Wine Aerator takes the hassle out of entertaining for the host that wants to get hammered with their guests while still enjoying the subtle bouquet of aerated wine.

No longer will you have to worry about being sober enough to hold your favorite bottle of wine vertically upright, this hands free decanter does all the work, leaving you more time for what’s really important at Christmas – drinking yourself horizontal.

 

6. The iPhone Controlled Ball Dropping Bomber

The iPhone Controlled Ball Dropping Bomber

Ever feel weighed down by excess bills in your wallet or get that bloated feeling in your bank account?

Get instant relief and feel $129.95 lighter when you purchase the iPhone Controlled Ball Dropping Bomber. This christmas you can drop ball bombs on your nearest and dearest.

(this does actually look like fun!)

 

7. The Direct To iPhone/iPod Scanner

The Direct To iPhone/iPod Scanner

In this digital age everyone agrees that those magical moments are best viewed on a 3 x 2 inch screen. But don’t stop at photos taken with your iPhone only – this Direct To iPhone/iPod Scanner allows you to take any picture and scan it into your phone, cleverly reducing the size and quality of the photo.

And how about all those recipes you’ve been collecting that are piling up, or the unmanageable number of business cards we all have to organize? Now those too can easily take care of all your iPhone’s spare storage. In fact, you can scan anything so long as it’s no bigger than 4×6.

This handy extra-bag-required-sized accessory is the perfect gift for the person in your life who loves those “impromptu scanning sessions” and let’s face it, it’s not a party till you scan something!

 

8. The Backpack Vacuum

The Backpack Vacuum

Surprise someone you love this Christmas with the gadget all home-makers have been waiting for.

No longer will you have to drag around the heavy and bulky plastic container of filth collected from your home, you can strap all the dirt, grime, toe nail clippings etc onto your back!

Why rely on the wheels of a regular vacuum cleaner when your own back can take the strain?

(might be quite good for playing Ghostbusters!)

 

9. The Talking 30 Language Translator

The Talking 30 Language Translator

Learning a new language can be overly time consuming. The modern global jet-setter simply doesn’t have time to be rifling through phrase books every time they’re in a new country.

Now you don’t have to with The Talking 30 Language Translator.

Unlike its $3.99 iPhone app competitors, which unhelpfully also translate photographed words, this sleek 1985-styled device can be the envy of your fellow travelers for only $249.95.

When you pull this out in some exotic location, the first question you receive may translate as ‘don’t they have the internet where you’re from?’

 

10. The Two Story Inflatable Reindeer

The Two Story Inflatable Reindeer 

No home is complete without some Christmas decoration, and what could be more impressive than this tasteful Two Story Inflatable Reindeer?

For under $400 you can make your home the talk of the street. Or surprise the recipient of this gift, and let their holiday guests enjoy literally seconds of amusement.

(I really want one of these! Or at least a house with a garden big enough to host him!)

And remember not to forget your furry friend this holiday season…

The Only Outdoor Heated Cat Shelter

The Only Outdoor Heated Cat Shelter

Make your cat feel loved this year by buying its own outdoor heated shelter. Even better than allowing ‘Fluffy’ indoors on a cold wintry day, the Outdoor Heated Cat Shelter gives your cat a feeling of independence whilst protecting it in all weather conditions.

If you enjoyed reading about these Top 10 Christmas Gift Items and would like to know where you can buy any of them from, it might be time to have a long hard think about things!

I hope you and yours have a happy, fun and wonderful Christmas!

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Weird And Wonderful Moments From The Road

As another leg of touring ends and I head back for some time off the road in Nashville, I thought I would share some of the moments I’ve experienced during my 2 1/2 years of touring in the US.

To date I have visited 30 states and performed in about 25. That still leaves plenty of places on my list to visit! Along the way I have met some truly wonderful people at shows, house concerts and out and about and had  so many laughs with the amazing artists I have had the good fortune to share the stage with including Shawn Mullins, Matthew Sweet, Erick Baker, Griffin House, Matthew Perrryman-Jones, and Steve Forbert.

Here are some photos which capture some favourite moments from the road, as well as some amusing or downright bizarre sights. One moment that still sticks in my mind was whilst touring with Shawn Mullins. We were all doing laundry in Dover, New Hampshire (laundry is part of the glamour of touring!) and saw a man walking his pet goat along the road, just like walking a dog! Unfortunately I couldn’t find a photo of that, but that is the beauty of touring – you never know what you’re going to see next! From sea to shining sea, over 100,000 miles, I have seen some crazy, beautiful and exciting things, here are a few of them…

At a gas station in Kentucky….
We took a photo of their restroom sign, apparently they were filming us!

This donut and coffee store in Austin TX has an open door policy for Monkeys…I waited and waited, but none came in.

This Ohio truck stop offers Boneless Bananas – suitable for vegetarians

You know your gig is in a good part of town when the store next door sells this!

Enjoying a colourful wind farm in Asheville North Carolina

On the Freeway…The new super-hyper-mega walmart has a new mega-cart

Flying back from Portland OR – quite a view!

You’ve heard of Hank’s Lost Highway? The GPS has lost this road under the ocean!

Callaghan fan- club in Atlanta GA, with amazing posters

Wild Gators near a gas station in Alabama. I didn’t realize there was any other kind!

Who needs protecting from who here…?

Down on the gulf coast…these fellas must be driving to that Coffee shop!

A local band playing on one of the islands visited by the Cayamo music cruise.

An beautiful bright sun on 30A highway, Florida – check out the 30A songwriter’s festival in January!

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Two years into my US adventure, I’m sending Love back to London!

London Olympic Decorations

Flags, flags, flags…The decorations are up for the London 2012 Olympics. Photo by Sharon Addison

Today is exactly two years since I moved to the US.

That time has flown by so fast, and looking back over the last 24 months makes me so pleased I took the plunge and got on the plane to follow my dream of doing music full time. The people I have met, places I have seen and experiences I have had have been amazing.

But there are inevitably things I miss out on from back home in the UK. Events that happen in the lives of friends and family that I’m not involved in like before, TV shows and new celebrities that come and go without me ever being aware of them, and I feel a lot of nostalgia for the streets, sights and sounds of London.

And this week is the start of something very exciting going on in my home town – The Olympics are coming to London.

This will be the third time London has hosted the Olympics – the first two in 1908 and 1948.

Photos have been all over my friends’ facebook pages and I have been scrolling through them all to get a sense of how the city is changing and what the atmosphere is like. Quite a few of my friends are volunteering during the games, and lots have been photographed with the Olympic torch.

The games were awarded back in July 2005 when I was still living in London. I don’t think anyone in the UK will forget that week because the elation of winning the bid on the 6th of July was immediately followed by the heartbreak of the terrorist bombings in the city on July 7th.

For all the stereotypes that exist of the British stiff upper lip and reserve, Londoners joined together to grieve when the bombings happened and are joining together now to  celebrate the huge festival that is the Olympics. I think coming together like that is part of what makes London such a fantastic city.

I’ll be watching the opening ceremonies as they’re streamed across the Atlantic tonight and I can’t wait to see what they have planned.

So, two years after leaving London to start my US adventure I am sending a wish that the sun shines on London and that all my friends in the UK love being a part of the games – and hoping they take lots of photos for me to enjoy too!

p.s. On a funny note, I heard a great story on a British radio programme recently about the “Chap Olympiad”. Held annually in London, the event describes itself as “a celebration of eccentricity and athletic ineptitude with the emphasis on panache and style over sporting prowess”. You can expect events such as the cucumber sandwich discus, umbrella jousting and butler racing. There was one particular event that really caught my eye – ‘The Hop, Skip and G&T’ where contestants leap into a sandpit holding a brimming gin and tonic and get points deducted for spillages. If I start training now, maybe I’ll be lucky enough to win the coveted “golden cravat” next time!

 

Butler racing at the Chap Olympiad

A competitor tries to throw his rival off course during the butler racing event at The Chap Olympiad, London. Photograph: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

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Being a Brit in the USA – my first 4th of July

Living in a different country to the one you grew up in often means coming across the new and unfamiliar and I seem to write a lot in this blog about the experience of being a Brit living in America.

So I thought I’d share another “first” that I experienced recently…

My first 4th of July

Although I’ve lived in the US for 2 years, last year I was on the road touring and didn’t get to truly have the authentic 4th of July celebration. So, wanting to do things right, I went onto my Facebook Page and asked people how this holiday was best celebrated. The consensus was that it should contain lots of grilling, drinking, and blowing things up. I think I followed that advice pretty closely and spent the evening with some friends eating burgers, drinking good beer and watching a very impressive firework display.

One thing I’ve noticed since living here is that this country has some great holidays, and 4th of July is definitely one of them. Like Thanksgiving, it’s a chance to get together with friends and family, eat good food and have a good time without any of the pressures or commercial aspects that other holidays can bring.

Of course, I know there is also historic tradition and story behind these festivities, and I’m learning more about American history which I find really interesting (particularly since I’ve been tracking the story of my great-great-great Uncle who moved to the States in the 1800s). Being a Brit there were a few gags from people about red coats and historic butt kickin’s, but it was all in good spirits, and some people were surprised to learn that the revolutionaries had attracted many supporters in Britain.

In the Facebook discussion I had many people also said the 4th is an opportunity to pause and be thankful for the place in which you live. So, Happy Birthday to the USA, and thanks for giving me such a lovely home.

I’ll just finish by quoting one Facebook fan, a Brit who has lived here for a while, who made me smile:

“If someone asks you whether you have the 4th of July in the UK, just reply and say “Yes we do, it comes after the 3rd and before the 5th”

I celebrated my 4th in Tennessee this year…I wonder if the celebrations are the same across the USA? Let me know what you think and I can start preparing for next year!

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How do you like your Grits in the morning…

Welcome to my new blog site!

It has taken me some time to figure out how to set this page up, but now that it’s here, I intend to use it!

I chose the name “Brits and Grits” because, being a Brit living in the USA, there are some things,like Grits, that have taken me some time to get used to!

I remember my first experience of eating grits was when I came over for a few weeks to Nashville back in 2007. I was staying in a hotel and saw them on the breakfast menu and decided to give it a try. I was seriously not impressed. I thought they had the consistency of wallpaper paste and even less flavour. Little did I know I had been misled by Instant Grits.

Well, fast forward a few years and I’m now living in the US, after deciding to move to Atlanta to record my album with Shawn Mullins. And thanks to an introduction to home made grits in Gainesville, Georgia, I’ve become a BIG fan of that gritty goodness whether they come plain, with baked apples, smothered in cheese, or served up with a pile of fried shrimp! I’ve even attempted to make a (somewhat lumpy) batch of them myself. Practice makes perfect though so I’ll keep trying!

So this blog is going to talk about all the weird and wonderful experiences of being a British woman living in the US of A. The food, the accents, the traditions, the every day and the extraordinary. And of course, as I’m a singer-songwriter, there’ll be a good amount of music chat too!

So I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts and hearing yours.

And what I really want to know is….how do you like eating your grits?

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