I love all the little details Frederica has put into this list describing what a huge lifestyle adjustment it was to move from LA to the British countryside. But not necessarily in the ways you imagine. I hadn’t realised quite how many funny words we use in the UK, and how day-to-day life can be so different, including our small refrigerators and zebra crossings! And it’s lovely to hear a happy ending to what must have been a massive upheaval. 


  • I never imagined I would fall in love with an Englishman, even after 20 years, I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

  • I met him online. Internet dating was in its infancy. There were free dating sites where you could place your ‘ad’. My ad said, ‘I liked a man with an accent and who loved to travel’.

  • He fit the bill! He was British – so he had an accent and he had travelled to most of Europe and although he had never been to America, he was hoping one day to visit.

  • I did have my internet dating rules:

  • If interested, respond straight away.

  • Ask for recent pictures (not ones from 5 years ago).

  • Ask for a picture with him holding a coffee mug (to minimise the chance he is pulling photos of someone else off the Internet).

  • In the beginning, never reveal exact details of where I lived or worked.

  • I kept using my online name until I trusted him.

  • When meeting someone for the first time, it was in a public space and during the day.

  • I made sure the date was time-limited, even if I was having a good time.

  • I never agreed to meet the first time for dinner.

  • I always let a girlfriend know when and where I was going on my date.

  • I kept corresponding using the email facility that was embedded in the dating site, until I felt comfortable giving my personal email or phone number.

  • My inbox started filling up with his emails. He seemed sincere. I gave him my personal email address and letter length emails led to short international phone calls (video calls and smart phones were not around yet) and eventually a work reassignment for him to Los Angeles.

  • I was so excited because this is when the real dating began – meeting for lunch, walks on the beach in Santa Monica, romantic dinners, trips up the coast to San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.  Attending concerts and spending weekends in San Francisco. It was glorious!

  • Then six months into our courtship, he gave me the bad news.

  • He had been called back to the UK, his stint in America was finished. I was heartbroken.

  • At LAX, we held hands as we walked towards his gate. ‘Call me’, I remember saying. He gently put my face in his hands, he gave me a kiss and said, ‘I will, because you’re my future’ and then he turned, walked away and boarded the plane.

  • Once I got to the car, I started crying. I cried all the way home. Alone again, I thought.

  • Eight months later, it was both of us saying good-bye to my parents at the Nashville International Airport, as we were about to board our British Airways flight to London Heathrow. We had driven from California to Tennessee, crossing the country on the famous Route 66, stopping at classic American highway motels and diners along the way.

  • I never thought I would leave sunny LA for a small market town in Somerset, but I was in love! My life in England got off to a rocky start, as I was harassed by my partner’s ex-girlfriend. She finally stopped when she realised I was redecorating his house, a sign he was totally committed to me.

  • The English countryside was beautiful, such a change from Venice Beach. I was enchanted by my surroundings, the history, the greenness, the cows, and sheep grazing in the fields.

  • My favourite part of being in the countryside was the food and drinks. Local Somerset cider and cheese from Cheddar. I could pick my own red currants, sloes and blackberries and every Friday it was Fish & Chips!

  • I learned that I speak ‘American’ and that some English spellings use a ‘s’ instead of a ‘z’ – apologise, realise, or recognise.

  • I wear a ‘jumper’ instead of a sweater. Babies wear ‘nappies’, sleep in a cot, use a dummy and throw things from their pram. A ‘rubber’ was an eraser and not slang for what men wear to prevent impregnation. Brits go on holiday rather than vacation. There are half-terms and all children wear school uniforms.

  • Zebra crossings, trainers, multi-storeys, and summer music festivals were all new to me.

  • It was the practicalities of everyday living that I had to contend with and grow accustomed to such as:

  • Smaller refrigerators

  • Washing machines in the kitchen

  • Drinks being served at room temperature with no ice

  • Electric lawnmowers (I had never seen a lawnmower that you plugged in)

  • More bathtubs than free-standing showers

  • More manual drives than automatic vehicles

  • Different charges for dining-in or taking-away

  • No power outlets in the bathroom (where was I going to charge my electric toothbrush?)

  • Toilet flushes

  • Teeny, tiny parking spaces

  • Registering with the NHS and the expense of private care

  • Paying the TV License

  • Tax on the car

  • Trolleys that are chained together that cost a pound to release for use in the store

  • A different tax year and what was a P60?

  • The postman didn’t take your letters, only delivered the mail

  • Most petrol stations didn’t have the pay-at-the-pump facility

  • You pump your gas first and then pay, the exact opposite of what is done in America

  • I learned to be a better recycler and that I had to pack my own groceries. For me, learning to confidently drive on the left side and passing my driving test (the second time around) was a highlight of that first year in England.

  • After 2 years of living together, we decided to marry, we searched several months for the right engagement ring. We went to Antwerp, Brussels, Bath and Hatton Garden, finally finding the right stone, a princess cut, during a weekend in New York City.

  • Planning an international wedding is not an easy task – I could write another list, just about that! Suffice it to say, that it was a lonely experience going wedding dress shopping and to final fittings by myself. I selected wedding invitations and favours on my own.

  • I had no bridal shower or as they say in the UK ‘hen party’. Plus, that felt like something for a young bride, I was 38 years old after all, and all my girlfriends and family were in America.

  • Much to my shock and horror, I was labelled a ‘spinster’ on the registry because I had never been married. (In America, the term spinster is reserved for the eccentric old lady who lives in a scary house, overrun by cats.)

  • We had a small, intimate wedding at a stately, country house right outside of Bath. I was surrounded by my immediate family – mom, dad, sister and niece. My close friends from university flew over from America and were bridesmaids. My former roommate’s twins were the flower girl and ring-bearer.

  • We had a Spanish guitarist play Jimi Hendrix during the wedding ceremony and a Ceilidh band played for the reception. Everything about that day was fabulous! I was 38-years old and as we danced to Etta James singing, ‘At Last’, I didn’t think my life could get any better.

  • I settled into domestic, English country life by getting a Jack Russell terrier from a neighbourhood farm and buying a hunter green Land Rover. My beautiful stepdaughters would come spend the occasional weekends with us. We took trips to Cornwall, Scotland and Glastonbury. We even went to the World Cup in Germany to see the English national team play. It was during this time, I found out I was pregnant. Pregnant at 40!

  • Sadly, I miscarried. After that short taste of motherhood, I desperately wanted to be a mom. So, we tried IVF and that failed twice.

  • We went through a year-long adoption process – taking classes, passing background checks, countless interviews. We were finally selected and were able to bring a baby home from the hospital. It was magical for just a moment. The birth mother changed her mind and after having him for an entire weekend, Monday morning he had to go back to the agency.

  • It was a low point for both of us. So much so, that I was prescribed antidepressants. I thought about surrogacy, but it was too costly, and my heart (nor my mind) was not in the right place for that option. Furthermore, I was now 47 and feeling like menopause was right around the corner.

  • Life has a funny way of surprising me – remember I said I didn’t think my life could get any better? Well, it did get better. On November 7, 2013, (age 48) I gave birth to a healthy, baby boy! He is my joy. A combination of prayers, a good doctor, vitamins, acupuncture, and a supportive husband helped me fulfil my dream of becoming a mom (albeit an older one).

  • We are the epitome of the modern family. We are mixed-race (Black-White), mixed nationality (American-British), mixed religion (Catholic-Protestant), and mixed-age siblings (oldest 35-youngest 7). Surprisingly, it all works!  It’s like having an ice cream sundae full of all your favourite ice cream flavours, with whipped cream and cherries on top!

  • So, if you’re thinking about moving to a foreign country for love, be sure to learn as much as you can about what I call the 4 Cs- culture, cuisine, customs and climate. If you know a little something in each of these areas, it will make acclimating to your new country a bit easier.

  • Do I miss my life in California? Sometimes, I miss the sunny, hazy days and the beach, but I’m living my happily ever after in the English countryside!

Frederica Hendricks Noble book The Special Relationship is out now


** ‘But why is there blood in the toilet?’ ‘But why do people die and are they just sleeping?’ and “But why do adults drink beer and what does it do?’ are some of the tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to order now  and also on audiobook.**



–  READ Jo Forel’s list Quitting The 9 To 5 To Show Our Kids The World for a slice of travel inspiration as she discovers new places with her family in tow. 

–  LISTEN to Mother Pukka and Papa Pukka talk happiness, relationships and compromise on Honestly podcast.

–  LISTEN to Belinda Kirk talk about adventure and it’s a positive impact on your wellbeing on BUT WHY? podcast.



Find submission guidelines here.  All writers and topics  are welcome.

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