6 Things I Love About England

Thursday, 10 April 2014
As I was looking through my archive of previous posts I came across last year's post for the Fourth of July about the five things I miss about America. It made me think that I should really do a list of things I love about England. As an expat you will always love your home country, but usually you find reasons to love your new home just as much. Here are the six things that sprang to mind when thinking about what I love about England.

6. Royal Family. Say what you want, I love the royal family and think they do a great deal of good for this country. I just love the Queen, she is the ultimate legend. But it's not just the Queen, I love them all,  even Prince Charles! I mean Prince Charles reported the weather for the BBC, how cool is that?!

5. Elderflower Cordial. It might not be to everyone's taste, but for me, nothing is better than elderflower cordial in sparkling water. Cordials are basically flavoured syrups, which are quite popular here in the England. Elderflower is the flower of the elderberry, quite delicious and something I had never experienced in America.

Homemade Elderflower Cordial

Afternoon Tea
Enjoying Afternoon Tea in Stratford-upon-Avon
4. Tea. I have never been a coffee girl and it is so nice to be in a country that appreciates/loves tea as much as I do. Whether it's just having a cuppa in the evening or going all out with an afternoon tea, England certainly does right by tea. Even the largest of problems can be solved with a cup of tea. Boyfriend dumped you? Family member died? The first thing any English person will do is dash off to the kettle and fix you a brew!

3. History. In Las Vegas a building from the 1950s is considered old and anything before that, practically pre-historic but it's a whole different kettle of fish over here. In fact they have so much history it's practically bursting at the seems. Take the 2,000 year old Roman mosaic in Spoonley Wood for example. There are no maps to it and the only thing protecting it is a bit of tarpaulin! Every where you go, even the smallest of villages, there are buildings and and stories of some significance. If you love history, England is definitely the place to be!

Roman Mosiac in Spoonley Wood
Roman Mosiac in Spoonley Wood

2. The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. Pink Floyd. Led Zeppelin. My top four favourite bands of all time are from England. I take it as a sign that I was destined to live here, and also perhaps in the 60s or 70s. These men are all rock gods!

The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin

1. English Literature. This small island has given the world some of the greatest masterpieces and authors. You have my personal favourites Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass or J.K.Rowling's Harry Potter series, but don't forget J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan, C.S.S. Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia, J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, the Brontë sisters. Do I really need to go on?

Map of English Literature

Q: What do you love most about England?

Erin x

Dr. No (1962) | James Bond Review 1

Friday, 7 March 2014
Ian Fleming's James Bond in Dr. No (1962)
"Bond, James Bond." These words and Monty Norman Orchestra's James Bond Theme became the immortal introduction to a legendary film series spanning over 50 years!

Sean Connery falls easily into the role of James Bond, 00-Agent and notorious lothario, sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of a fellow agent. This leads him into the path of the evil Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman), who is plotting a disruption of the American space program. 

Who can forget when Honey Ryder, played by Ursula Andress, emerges from the water gathering shells in a white bikini? The scene forever cemented her as the first and the ultimate Bond girl!

Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder in Dr. No (1962)

James Bond: Sean Connery
Bond Villian: Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman)
Bond Girl: Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress)
Theme Song: James Bond Theme by Monty Norman Orchestra

Did You Know?

Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond series
Ian Fleming | Wikipedia
After viewing the film, James Bond creator Ian Fleming reportedly described it as being, "Dreadful. Simply dreadful."

Ian Fleming didn't originally like the casting of Sean Connery as James Bond. Bond was English and Connery was Scottish, Bond was upper-class and Connery was working-class, Bond was refined and educated and Connery was too rugged. After seeing the film, Fleming softened and decided that Connery was perfectly cast.

Ursula Andress' dialog was looped by voice artist Nikki Van der Zyl. It was her task to recreate Andress' voice but give it only a mild accent.

The studio's Japanese affiliate originally translated the title as "We Don't Want Doctors!"

Sean Connery is morbidly afraid of spiders. The shot of the spider in his bed was originally done with a sheet of glass between him and the spider, but when this didn't look realistic enough, the scene was re-shot with the stuntman.

A Francisco de Goya painting of the Duke of Wellington, stolen in 1961, is found on an easel next to the stairs in Dr. No's dining area, which is why Bond stops to notice it as he passes it while going up the stairs. It was recovered in 1965.

Francisco de Goya painting of the Duke of Wellington, in Dr. No (1962)
Source: "Dr. No (1962) - Trivia." IMDb.com. Internet Movie Database, 07 March 2014.

To purchase your copy of the James Bond series and more, please visit Quintessentially English's Amazon Store.

Erin x

Moving House Checklist

Tuesday, 4 March 2014
Like I said in 5 Steps to Buying Property in England, buying a house is one of the most stressful things you will do in your life. First, you have to pack everything you've acquired since you've been in the property. (And if you're anything like us this will lead questioning where all this useless crap has appeared from.) Second, you have to go through all the hassle of notifying everyone under the sun about your upcoming move.

Whilst I can't help you with your packing (and nor would I want to) I can make the process of moving house slightly easier with this moving house checklist;

Quintessentially English's Moving House Checklist


  • Ask around and obtain quotes from several removal firms. Or if you're not using professionals, start asking your friends for help.
  • Book extra storage space if you need it.
  • Start getting rid of the things you no longer need. I split our items into three categories: charity shop,  eBay, or rubbish. 


  • Start packing non-essential items such as books (6 boxes in our case) and non-seasonal clothes.
  • Visit the Royal Mail's website and arrange for your post to be redirected to your new address (even if it's overseas) for a period of 1, 3, 6, or even 12 months.
  • Notify the bank of any changes to direct debits and standing orders. Depending on who you bank with, you can usually do this online.
  • Notify the relevant companies of your departure, to make this easy for you I have created Quintessentially English's Notification Checklist which you can download at the bottom of this post!


  • Start packing all things that you've deemed essential, leaving yourself just the bare minimals. (We lived off a pair of dishes and a suitcase for our last week.)
  • Finalise arrangements with your removal company/friends. 
  • Make sure your home insurance covers you from the day you move in to your new house.


  • Take pictures of every inch of the house, this is especially important if you are renting.
  • Get you last meter readings for any gas, electricity, and water.
  • After all the heavy lifting is done, make sure to relax with the traditional moving house feast of pizza and beer.

Erin x

Quintessentially English's Notification Checklist
Click here to download your FREE copy of Quintessentially English's Notification Checklist.

5 Steps to Buying Property in England

Friday, 7 February 2014
Hello Blogosphere! It's been awhile, and for that I can only apologise. My sabbatical from blogging was unplanned but sometimes life just gets in the way and something has to be put on hold. However, I am back and things sure have changed here on Waltons mountain

After an eventful Christmas, my American family was visiting, Luke and I have decided it is time we buy our first home and get on the property ladder! We have been saving ever since we moved into our rental property, nearly three years ago, and as our lease was about to end, it was the perfect time to buy!

Buying a House

They (well, Google) say that buying a house is one of the most stressful things you will do in your life. Those of you who have been reading Quintessentially English for a while will know that we've not had the best of luck when it's come to house hunting. Let's see, there was the house we rented in Worcester which was infested with rats! Then there was the nightmare of a time we had when trying to rent our current property, but you can read about that here.

To keep the stress of buying a house to a minimum we have followed these steps and so far things haven't been too bad. At least I haven't had a nervous breakdown yet.

1. Figure out how much you can afford.

Research is the key to buying a new home. We started this process a few months ago by looking at our bank accounts to help us establish our current outgoings such as rent, utilities, and food. This gave us a ballpark figure to work to with the mortgage repayments.

We then went online to research mortgage deals, such as the government's Help to Buy scheme which is a great for people getting on the property ladder as you only need a 5% deposit! You'll find a lot of great advice online from various sources but Money Saving Expert, and The Money Advice Service were my favourites.

Help to Buy Scheme

2. Get a taste for the market.

Once we had an idea of what we kind of mortgage we could afford, we used property websites Rightmove and PrimeLocation to see what kind of properties were on the market for the price we wanted. By doing this we were also able to limit certain areas based on cost or desirablity. This came in handy when we spoke to a mortgage advisor.

3. Get a mortgage promise. 

Mortgage Paperwork
Now, fellow expats, comes the "fun" part. Because of my status in the UK not all mortgage companies would lend to us, in fact very few would. Before getting our hopes up we spoke to an Indepedent Financial Advisor, who did some more research for us. Not going to lie, there seemed a point when our house buying dreams might be dashed. However, we were able to speak with a mortgage advisor at Halifax who made all our dreams come true! Well at least a promise of dreams, as a mortgage promise is an agreement, in principle, from the bank/lender that they will give you a mortgage once you find the right property.

When getting a mortgage promise you should come as prepared as possible, this will save you from having to go back multiple times. Be sure to bring with you:

  • Passport (and Visa if applicable)
  • Account Statements from the past 3 months
  • Proof of Address (Driving License or a Utility Bill will do)
  • Payslips from the past 3 months

4. Find a property.

Now comes the actual fun part of buying a property, the actual finding of that property! Once again we used Rightmove and PrimeLocation to search for property and arrange viewings for the ones we liked. I'd also recommend calling estate agents and speaking to them personally. This way you're on their radar and they'll contact you when they get a property come up to your specifications even before they post it online.

The property search was slightly easier for us as after three years of living in Milton Keynes we have a better idea of what areas work for us. If you're not sure or moving to a new area, I recommend using Google Street View so you can virtually walk around the area and get a taste for it. Make sure you don't just jump at the first house you like and see a few, and also make sure you have multiple viewings at different times of the day if possible.

In the end we selected a lovely property in a little village on the outskirts of Milton Keynes. We saw it at night and during the day which gave us completely different perspectives and helped us realise that it was the perfect first home for us.

via Doc Searls

5. Make an offer.

With our chosen property, we made an offer lower than the asking price. I'd always recommend going in lower than you're willing to pay. The worst that can happen is the vendor says no and you raise the stakes. In our case the did decline, but in the end we were able to come to an agreement that worked for both parties.

And so our property journey ends for now, stay tuned for the next instalment in which we will cover applying for a mortgage and other fun!

Q: Have you bought or are you looking to buy a property in England? 
Any advice?

Erin x

7 Renegade Travel Tips From a ‘Chief World Explorer’

Friday, 18 October 2013
*The following is a guest post from my friend and all-around legend, John Beede. John is a motivational speaker, author, entrepreneur, and adventurer. He goes scuba-diving with great white sharks in South Africa, skydiving in New Zealand, and rock climbing - he recently got back from climbing Mt. Everest.  

His next adventure is to get the best job around the world - Jauntaroo's Chief World Explorer. Out of the 3,000 that applied John has made it into the Top 50 and he needs your help to make it to the Final 5!

If you find these tips entertaining, useful, or downright offensive, please support the author in becoming 'Chief World Explorer' by clicking the red ‘Like’ button at http://LikeJB.com. No registration. Won’t even post to Facebook. 

John Beede 'Chief World Explorer' on Mt. Everest's summit
John Beede on the summit of Mt. Everest

1. How to Become Hero to 30 Strangers in 1 Hour 

This is my favorite technique when visiting a new place. Visit 5 bars, pubs, or clubs during daylight hours. Ask for the manager and tell her, ‘I’m organizing a pub crawl for 20-30 guests tonight. I’d like to make this one of the stops, what kind of deal can you give me, per person, for drinks?” Aim for $2.00USD or lower, depending on the country. This is a deal for the bar because they’ll get an instant party upon your arrival (I’ll explain how to get the people in a moment) Being OK with pitchers will come in handy. Repeat this process at 4 or 5 locations and create your lineup. 

Now head a hostel. Tell the front desk, “I’ve got a pub crawl set up for tonight and I’ll give you $5 bucks for every person you guys sign up.” Explain necessary details. Repeat at 3-5 hostels. Also, personally round up people you meet at your own accommodations. 

Charge $20, in advance, for a drink at 5 stops. This is a deal for the bar, a deal for the hostel, a deal for other travelers, and you become everyone’s hero for the night. Oh, and if you’re following my math, you profit $5 per person, so, with an entourage of 30, you’ll profit $150 bucks for your trouble! 

John Beede 'Chief World Explorer' in Costa Rica
Whitewater rafting in Costa Rica.

2. How to Accidentally Upgrade to First Class

I ran the Denver marathon and had a flight the very next day. While boarding the plane, I was so sore that I accidentally fell into an empty first class seat. People were walking down the aisle so zombie-like that I figured I’d just wait for them to pass. Soon, I realized… “nobody is asking me to get up!” To my delight, the flight attendant came by, “Sir, may I interest you in a glass of champagne?” 

“Why yes you may. In fact, champagne is of highest interest to me, ma’am. Thank you kindly,” I replied. It was a pleasant flight with a lot of leg room… 

Take what you like from this little accidental anecdote. Just know that you ever find yourself too sore to stand, with a smile and some moxie, you could get an upgrade to first class… 

John Beede 'Chief World Explorer' in Tarifa
Kitesurfing in Tarifa, Spain

3. How to ‘Hire’ Local Tour Guides 

Connecting on social media, especially couchsurfing.org and globalfreeloader.com is an awesome way to meet a local tour guide who will show you around. Here’s the trick: DON’T ask for a place to stay. Just offer: “I’m coming to (Berlin), and I’d love to see something that locals do. If you’re going to be going to dinner or drinks with friends over (these dates), I’d love to join you for a bit to see how (Berliners) live. Drink is on me! Let me know…” 

Send to a dozen or so people and someone will bite. If you’re cool in person, they’ll show you around the rest of town and may even offer a place to stay! 

John Beede 'Chief World Explorer'

4. Coupon-Free Discount Transportation 

On the plane, in baggage claim, or by the airport taxi stand, look for people with backpacks. SMILE and say, “hey guys, I’m a budget traveler, trying to get to the city, wondering if you’d be interested in sharing a cab?” Sometimes they’ll have too much luggage, too many people, or they’re just grumpy, but I’d say this works 60% of the time. 

Failing that, here’s another trick. See that fancy hotel offering free shuttle service to their customers? Tell the driver, “hey, I’m not staying at the hotel, but it’s really close to where I’m going, can I give you a X dollar tip if I can catch a lift there?” Whereas X = half what it would have cost you in a cab, train or bus. You never know unless you ask. 

John Beede 'Chief World Explorer'

5. Employ the “Give Get Free” Technique 

If you can give value to a hotel, restaurant, or city attraction, you can often score free or highly discounted room, board, and entertainment. 

Here’s what I mean: write positive online reviews for a hotel (offer a package of several 5 star ratings across many review sites), feature a restaurant on your YouTube channel, or write a blog post about the sweet adventure you had on Captain Jim’s Alaska Fishing tour. Sidebar: Captain Jim really was a great guy… until he shot a 90 pound halibut between the eyes with a rifle…. 

6. Score Free Flights, Hotels, Airport Lounge Access 

There are heaps of credit card offers out there which will score you free flights and 5 star hotel stays. Refer to thepointsguy.com for the best deals to suit you, but I will throw in my vote for the Southwest Airlines Visa. Also, the American Express Platinum card has a fee but pays itself back multiple times over with free global entry, free airport lounge access, and more. You really don’t know what you’re missing out on. 

John Beede 'Chief World Explorer'

7. How to Make it Actually Matter 

Having a lot of passport stamps but not becoming a more compassionate and worldly person is like being the rich guy with no friends. Don’t be ‘that guy.’ Instead, let me suggest how you can make your travels significant. 

The first few trips you take, everything will feel new, amazing, and you’ll get some great photos, memories, and updates for your social media. Then, the novelty of travel wears off and you start to forget where you are half the time. Worse, you can’t even figure out why you’re there. 

This is why I advocate volunteering. This does not necessarily mean paying thousands to a voluntourism company, though it could. Moreso, it means connecting with a meaningful cause in a place that is not your home and becoming a part of something bigger than yourself. Sarah Carrol created volunteeringforfree.org, a directory of low and no-cost worldwide volunteer projects where you can truly make a difference. Pick one that inspires you. Trust me, this is the best way to have travel make it’s mark on you. 

UPDATE: Although John Beede unfortunately did not become Jauntaroo's 'Chief World Explorer', he is still travelling the world and giving talks. To find out more about John Beede please visit climbonsuccess.com
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