Father’s Day Abroad

Mark takes good care of all of us, so I wanted him to really feel loved on Father’s Day. I had been thinking about the day long before we traveled here, but I waited until we arrived before I purchased any gifts. The first item on the list was a new watch to replace the one I gave him as a Christmas present when we were engaged. It has been on the blink for the last year and I keep “kinda” getting it fixed. That’s “kinda” as in I almost replaced the battery, but then it seemed to be working again, so I gave it back to Mark and pretended that I had something done to fix it. Then it stopped working again. Or “kinda” like when I took it in to a jewelry store and asked them why it kept starting and stopping and they said it wasn’t the battery, but that it needed a special lubricating spray which would get it working consistently. Then it stopped working again. Mark saw a watch he wanted to buy at Costco, but I told him I would go back and get it for him as a present, but when I went to get it they were sold out. Oops. The first week here Elena and I found the perfect watch. We decided to wait before purchasing it and our plan was almost foiled again when we went back and it was out of stock! Luckily, they had time to order it before the big day, so Mark has a working watch once again. Hooray!

My other focus was incorporating some local flavour. At first I wasn’t sure exactly what I meant by this, but I started by finding some British-branded shirts and a tie. I also wanted to incorporate British cuisine into our menu for the day. There were some challenges with this part of plan, namely that

  • We have a bare bones kitchen setup regarding pots, pans, and so forth, so I had to make sure that I had the proper equipment to prepare the food, and
  • Grocery stores are still somewhat unfamiliar to us–if I want to get a particular item that I might commonly use in the states, often I don’t know if the store carries it, what it’s called, or where to find it, and
  • I need to carry everything home in my backpack so it’s hard to buy large quantities.

I decided to venture into a butcher shop for the first time, although I was worried about looking ridiculous when I tried to order a hunk of meat. The worries were unfounded, because the butcher was very kind and helpful. I literally asked for a good cut of meat for Father’s Day, and when the clerk starting naming animals I thought I should stick to one I had had before, so I chose beef. He selected a big hunk of meat from the display case, asked me how many people it needed to feed, and cut the appropriate amount (including, per my request, enough for some leftovers). Next I requested some bacon–he cut 10 pieces. I took notes as he gave me instructions for cooking the beef because by that point Elena was pulling things off the wall and Roman was crying and kicking his feet. Time to head home.

On Father’s Day morning Elena might have been the most excited one when it was time to open presents. Since we had to leave for church early, I cooked breakfast (pancakes and bacon) while Mark worked on opening the gifts. I think he liked everything and was even delighted to see that Jewel had sent her standard gift of maple syrup–just in time for the pancakes!

Dinner worked out in the end, but not without some adventures and delays. Cooking in this oven makes me feel like I am learning to cook all over again. Some things burn, some things take longer, some things have to be rotated mid-baking–it takes time to establish a good oven relationship. The cake was a little burnt, but nothing that strawberries and Extra Double Thick British cream couldn’t fix. We still have bits of mashed potatoes on our kitchen walls because shallow bowls were the only thing I had to mix them in. Despite the fact that Elena now announces what she doesn’t like as you put it on the table (e.g. “I don’t like mashed potatoes!”, “I don’t like roast!”, “I don’t like roast carrots!”), we all had an enjoyable dinner. Mark felt loved and cared for, which was the whole point in the first place! I hope all the fathers we know had fantastic Father’s Days as well!

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