Today we braved the bluster and let the wind push us along the street to James' primary school, which luckily is literally just behind Liz and Ian's house (my house too now? It's definitely starting to feel like home in the sense that I can make my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night without having to feel my way around in the darkness).
Once we got to the school, I stood with James and Wills by the front gate with all the other kids, waiting for the principal to come unlock the door. Everyone was lining up (queuing?) with the excitement that is generally reserved for the mosh pit or a Wal-mart on Black Friday. Wait a couple of years, kids. That enthusiasm will fade.
Anyways, I was chatting away with James and Wills as we waited when it slowly dawned on me that the other children around us were pointing at me, staring, and giggling and whispering to each other. Despite the fact that I still have difficulty operating the baby-proof gates that are installed on the stairs at Liz and Ian's, and glossing over the incident this morning when I finally caved and asked Liz to show me how to open the child-proof Listerine bottle, I am not an idiot. I realized that I was the focus of amusement.
"Are you laughing at my accent?" I asked them mildly.
One red-haired girl (a ginger, bless her soul...oh wait, gingers don't have any) went as scarlet as her hair. "Um...no," she stuttered.
"That's okay," I said, smiling. "I'm sure I sound funny to you. Where do you think I'm from?" (I realized this could be a very stupid question as I was currently sporting my Olympic shirt that has "CANADA" emblazoned across the chest.)
"Umm...Florida?" they guessed. Hmm. Never mind. Maybe my comment about the Canadian education system in yesterday's post could also describe the English one. ;)
Eventually, they clued in to the shirt but then the principal came to unlock the gate and I was nearly trampled by the uniform-clad students who, in their eager rush to learn, almost knocked me down. In England, all students wear school uniforms, unlike in Canada where it is only found in private schools or Catholic high schools. The uniforms here are adorable and very smart - gray wool trousers or pinafores, red polo shirts, and blue jumpers (sweaters). Girls wear knee socks and Mary-Jane shoes, and they also have the option of a red and white gingham pinafore. Liz told me, however, that this school uniform is considered actually quite casual, and that usually the kids have to wear ties and blazers! I absolutely loved wearing a uniform in high school, as it made mornings just SO much easier, so I think the prevalence of uniforms in English schools is a great idea and one that should be implemented in Canada.
My accent has definitely garnered me attention here in Somerset county, and its a different kind of attention than what I was receiving in Russia last year. Whenever I spoke Russian with my foreign accent, people would either laugh or look at me like I had escaped from the mental institution that was on the way to Abramstevo. But here, I mostly get curious, welcoming smiles...and a LOT of "Are you from America???"
At Sainsburys' (one of the grocery store chains here) over the weekend with Liz, the check-out girl stared at me with awe. "I just LOVE your accent!" she gushed. "Are you from America?"
"I love YOUR accent!" I told her, which is so true. British accents sound so, so much better! We talked for a few minutes and it was just so nice to be able to have a real conversation. My grasp of Russian was so poor that I often couldn't manage a conversation beyond the basics, which was obviously very limiting.
Anyways, enough about accents. The rest of today was spent playing "spot the chav" at Asda, watching Tom and Jerry with Wills, and letting the wind do the work on my run. It is definitely a blustery day worthy of Winnie-the-Pooh!