Category: British life in the USA

If you think you saw a ghost, it was probably just “Emily”.

I have always said “You couldn’t make this sh*t up” when it comes to talking about my life. Everything always seems like something from a movie or Discovery channel documentary.

It didn’t take long to discover that there was something different about the cabin when we purchased it four years ago.
Before we could even move in, we had about two months of renovations to complete before it was even livable. In fact, the entire house was pretty much gutted. Renovations are still on going today, but in the beginning it was pretty chaotic. We had an entire team of painters, contractors, flooring layers and electricians in here during the day and night. It was a 24 hour operation. Walls were removed and replaced. Electrics were fixed and redone. The house was repainted and carpeted inside (I took on the task of repainting the outside later that summer- another story of battling wasps and other wildlife!). So you can only imagine it wasn’t just dust and spider webs that were stirred up.

The cabin was 20 years old when we closed on it. Built by the previous owner and not really maintained or updated since completed. So to cut a long story short, there was a lot more work to do than we first envisioned! HGTV makes it look very easy! Where was Chip and Joanna when you needed them?!?!

In the beginning things seemed fairly quiet. Our friends helped us tear the place up during the demo weekend! Pieces of panel board and old tiles were everywhere. We took out an entire 20 ft dumpster in one weekend. After the place was emptied and the real renovations began, we started to hear stories from the contractors. Tales of shadows walking across the master bedroom, caught in the corner of our project manager – Joe’s eye. Weird growling noises in the painter’s ears and foot steps across the floorboards when no one else was working in the house. Our project manager’s son ran out of the property at 6am as he heard someone walking upstairs when he was the only one here. But the best story came from our friend Ryan who was doing the rewiring and replacements. Ryan liked to work at night when the other contractors weren’t here. He would put on his country music and just get cracking on running the wires and switches. One night he cut his work night short. After his radio kept being turned off he began to get an eerie feeling and called his girlfriend to come for moral support. During the phone call, the call kept dropping despite having full signal. After he started to hear footsteps upstairs, he decided to bail until his girlfriend could come keep him company. The weird foot steps and electrical interruptions kept occurring.

And then we met “Emily”…

With our move in date just days away, there was so much still left to be completed before we could move in. We knew that the big renovations still needed to be done over time but finishing baseboards, trims etc needed to be completed by the contractors before we gave them final payment. One evening I started to take photos of the house to email to our project manager so that we could make a list of the things that needed to be finished before we moved in. I started snapping shots of unfinished base boards, flooring, paint touch ups and window trims. We didn’t have any stairs at the time, so I stood on the only step safe to stand on and snapped a photo of the window in the kitchen area. It was missing a piece of trim. Unfortunately the contractors decided to throw up dry wall on a wall that didn’t require it and didn’t replace the window trim that was damaged. When I took the photo we did not have electricity running in the house.

That evening I put together an email with all the photos to send to Joe. After sending it I went into my sent items to just double check I didn’t miss anything. I opened up the email and turned up my brightness. All of a sudden my tongue fell into my small intestine and a cold chill passed over my body. It was at that moment, I realized I had just purchased a house with a (un)live in tenant.

When you see it, feel free to shudder.

I did. There Emily stood in all her white dress Victorian glory.

About 30 minutes after sending the email Joe called me and I remember the opening line to the phone call very vividly. “You are ****ing messing with me!?”… Oh I wish Joe, Oh I wish I was!

Now there are plenty of stories I can tell you about Emily. Like the time she stood over our friend Kelly in bed and screamed at her when she stayed the weekend. The time she exploded a pendant light during a party. Or the time I was home alone taking a video of the cabin to send to my parents back home, only to catch a glimpse of a figure walking across the back window. It will take you a few times to see it, but when you do, you cannot un-see it.

Look in the left hand window, for the shadow that passes across the door.

I will definitely be sharing many more stories about Emily over the coming months. I found out some history about the land and why Emily (and friends – YES FRIENDS) may be here!

In fact there have been 3 or 4 spirit friends at the property.


“The bearded moonshiner”

“The unhappy native”

and “The growler”.

“The Growler” will warrant several blogs of his own. I cannot help but feel he has some connection to something scary and insane that happened to my best friend and I when we were 14, while sitting on top of the garden shed. You see how scary and interesting this all just got?

So, I guess I can put the question to you. What do you want to hear about first? More tales of Emily, “The growler” or my close encounter with what I believe was the “Owl man”? Yes…. no joke. The Owl man. Anyway, comment and let me know!


A celebration of giving thanks, friends, family and especially food……..

It’s a known fact that as we grow older, our families become smaller and smaller. Our time with those we love is certainly precious and limited. Appreciating those around us, such as family and friends and being grateful for what we have should be something we give thanks to everyday. With our busy lives and hectic schedules, it’s easy to lose track of those we hold most dear or those who we struggle to check in on as often as we should. For me, Thanksgiving is a day to sit back and remember to do that. Amidst the extravagant table spread, the week long preparations of turkey brining, cake baking and casserole coverings, it is a day to remember to be thankful for those WHO we have and WHAT we have around us. Thanksgiving for me, as a “Brit” seems like any typical Sunday afternoon, surrounded by the family or straggling friends, taking turns to cook the traditional Sunday roast. Stuffing our bellies until we must succumb to that wonderful food coma that we sleep off in a saggy backed arm chair. The premise of Thanksgiving and our traditional Sunday roast seem similar, however, what lurks upon a traditional Thanksgiving plate tells another tale.

Turkey, it’s all about the turkey. So much can go wrong, but if done correctly you may be rewarded with a moist, succulent and flavorful bird worthy of any royal banquet! The turkey may take time and precise perfection but she is the least of our worries. It’s what will surround the turkey upon that plate that I concern myself with.

MARSHMALLOWS. At what point did someone decide that marshmallows belong on the same plate as a yam or sweet potato? I highly doubt that the local Patuxet tribe whipped out a bag of Jet-puffs* and suggested to mix them with the nutritious vegetables. Through my curiosity and confusion of this concoction, I discovered that we must thank the maker of Cracker Jacks for this invention. A decade after mass producing marshmallows, they approached the Boston cooking school magazine to assist in getting their marshmallows into the homes of every American, by popularizing recipes that used their product. Recipe books and magazines were very popular at the time. After a recipe featuring mashed sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows was published, for most people marshmallows won and become a popular dish during the holiday season. Unfortunately, I still am yet to appreciate this dish. There are only so many circumstances in which salty and sweet may share the same plate.

Salted caramel.

Syrup and bacon.

Kettle corn.

Digestive biscuits and laughing cow cheese.

For me that’s about it. I will admit the color it brings to the table however, is picturesque.

This year, after tending to the farm and the animals in my care, I spent thanksgiving surrounded by delicious casseroles and a juicy turkey! Good company and good conversation. An American casserole is very different to those that I am used to. A casserole for me is a one pot oven dinner, consisting of a meat and several vegetables, stock and a bay leaf. Cooked for a few hours on a low heat and ready to enjoy after a hard days work. Casseroles here usually consist of a vegetable, a can of condensed mushroom or chicken soup and topped with cornflakes or fake crispy onions. Again an interesting concoction of colors, consistencies and flavors. Some delicious, some heavy and some not so much. HOWEVER it is a day of traditions and being thankful for what we have. I am thankful for having the opportunity to sit with loved ones and friends around a table in the warmth. When so many are not as fortunate.

After a delicious, non-marshmalled (by request) dinner and a selection of holiday deserts, I returned home to continue taking care of the critters. This year I had many friends and clients dogs to take care of over Thanksgiving. The morning was spent tiring them out, giving medications and tending to my own animals so that I could at least get to enjoy a Thanksgiving lunch for a few hours.

After lunch I returned home to continue playtime but soon felt that dreaded food coma catching up with me. After being outside for a few hours with the dogs, playing chase and picking up their “daily presents” my eyelids began to feel exceptionally heavy. I came upstairs to find Julian, Percy, Becky J and Evie had beaten me to the couches and had already begun their Thanksgiving siesta without me.

“A quick nap,” I thought to myself wouldn’t hurt “I’ll just lay down next to Percy and close my eyes for a moments”. AND that is what I did, until my 4.30pm alarm went off but 15 minutes later to start feeding everyone. I had to get up and leave this little boy, snuggled up looking so innocent and precious.

Like most large feasts, one of the many benefits are of course – left overs. I certainly plan on indulging in some of those today!!!Hopefully I will get to have a bit of extra snuggle time with this guy this evening. Well that’s if he stops taking all of the ornaments off of the Christmas tree and lays down (his new favorite game).

I hope you all had an amazing Thanksgiving 2021!

My right or die.

My first car in the US! Fifi the frog!

When I moved to the USA, one of the things I was most worried about was driving on the opposite side of the road. You don’t realize how much your brain is programed to look a certain way when you take a turn or cross a road until you are handed the keys to a car where the steering wheel is on the opposite side of the vehicle!

I truly thought there would be ample public transport and I would have no need for a car. How wrong was I!? Once I got my drivers license set up, I rushed to Carmax to buy my first car. I was so excited to have freedom again, after depending on everyone else for months. After signing the papers and getting the key, I walked to the car and got in the passenger side. This is something I still do, until I realize the steering wheel is in front of the other seat! “Ooops, let’s try that again shall we?” I said to myself, realizing I looked very silly. I started the car and off I drove!

Now most people would opt for a more popular color i.e. black, white or silver. Not I! I wanted something bright and eye catching, so that everyone could see me coming!!!! BRIGHT GREEN! I’m not sure who should have been more terrified of the fact I was in control of a vehicle, other motorists or myself!? I found myself chanting the same mantra during every journey, “Keep them on the left..” which just meant to make sure the median or other traffic were always on my left hand side. The amount of times I took a left hand turn and ended up facing oncoming traffic was terrible. Months went by and I was successfully navigating my way to my frequented destinations. As long as there wasn’t a diversion I was pretty comfortable getting to the grocery store, work or the mall.

Now I think I am a pretty good driver. My road awareness is pretty sharp, however my road rage is stereo-typically British. Unfortunately my version of verbal road abuse doesn’t really have the same effect here as it does back home. I remember a few years ago I called a crazy lady who cut me up 6 times on the main road into Charlotte a “complete tosser!”. Now If I had said that to someone back home, they’d have been offended. Here? Not even a flinch. Let’s be fair, we don’t really cut many people up on the roads back home, because half of them are too narrow to get one car down, let alone two! Regardless, calling someone an “Absolute W*nker” or any other fantastic British insult would certainly cause another driver to reconsider their driving actions. Not here…. it is ignored and repeated.

Driving on the highway is terrifying for a first timer. You better be sure you know exactly what exit you are taking and have had a lot of experience playing Tetris as a kid. As you merge off right to exit (opposite to the UK) , you better be ready! The exit is typically about 20 ft after the entrance onto the highway. So as you merge off, you are weaving in and out of cars merging on at high speeds. There is no move over rule or give space, it’s all a game of who can whip in first and who can fit in where. Typically I take an immodium before any long highway journey. Every time I have to get off the highway on to another, it’s a game of touching cloth.

If you are not familiar with the British term of “touching cloth” I have included an educational link.

I think I have mastered driving on the right side of the road. Seven years in and I am still going well. I will admit, I have converted my GPS to a British accent. I was getting fed up of being told to turn right at the circle. It’s a roundabout!!!! It may be circular but it is definitely called a roundabout. I feel however, these are a newcomer to American roads because I am yet to meet someone who knows how to use them. Blinkers are a thing of the past! It’s another guessing game as to which direction someone is taking! No wonder it’s not uncommon to see a car driving down the road without a hood or bumper. Years of playing Diddy Kong racing prepared me for the American roads!!!

There are some positives to driving in America. Gas station snacks are pretty interesting, you would never pick up a quart size cup of boiled peanuts or a pretty decent BBQ sandwich at a BP back home! Now, I have not been back home in seven years, the pandemic did not help with that but I am embarrassed to admit, I am a little worried about getting back there and renting a car! It’s taken my brain years to reprogram, I can only imagine the havoc I am going to cause pulling out of London Heathrow onto the M25! But at least I’ll understand the insults!

“I don’t come from a land down under.”

     I was contemplating what my Friday blog should be about. I could talk all day about dogs, ducks, chickens and the fact that I believe that mixing fruit with peanut butter is a complete abomination, but as I sit here listening to good ol’ Nina Simone, (sipping on a very generous pear martini) I thought I’d talk about the elephant in the room….

The fact that I am British and I do have a British accent. Or at least I did.

Jazz and blues music always seems to get my creative juices flowing or maybe it’s the martini, who knows?

 The last seven years in America has been a whirlwind. It’s taken a long time to get used to the lifestyle over here. Driving on the other side of the road. I can deposit money in a drive thru ( we don’t have drive thru banks in the U.K) The fact you cannot buy one portion of vegetables, it’s always a family pack that goes all gooey after 24 hours in the refrigerator. Plasters are called band aids and water is called “wah-derr”.

When I first arrived in America, my accent was very thick and “proper”. Fresh off the boat! I felt like a celebrity talking to everyone that I encountered. I’d often get asked the same questions:

“When did you move here?”

“What made you move here?”

“Is London still the capital?”  … yes….. someone also asked me “London, that’s part of the U.K right? Next to Russia…” I’ll be honest, she was so sure of herself that I didn’t have the heart to correct her. I’ll let her have that one.

As time went on, the novelty of sounding different began to wear off. I found myself needing to allow  30-45 minutes extra just when getting groceries. I knew the second I was asked for my VIC number or if I “found everything I needed to today”, it was game over. I would usually be hit with the comment: “Oh my god I love your accent! Is it real?” or “are you Irish?”……. in fact, let me write you a list of the most commonly asked questions or comments us brits get:

  1. Oh my god. I love your accent, I could listen to you talk all day.
  2. Are you Irish or Australian?
  3. Can you please say “Ello Guvnah” for me? I want to send it to my boyfriend.
  4. Oh my gosh- you are British?
  5. Do you still drive on the wrong side of the road here? – (LIKE WHAT!!!!!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!? DO YOU THINK I’D BE STANDING HERE?)
  6. Have you ever met the Queen? (Yeah every Sunday for brunch and croquet)
  7. What do you think about Harry and Megan?
  8. Is it true they don’t have a President in the U.K?
  9. I’d love to go to London one day, I always watch British TV shows, have you seen Faulty Towers?
  10.  __________________________________________*awkward silence as they don’t understand a single word I’m saying.

Oooh I actually thought of the best one, that actually leaves me quite offended. “You sound so funny!” *Stares back at cashier wide eyed*

Driving down the A23 to Brighton U.K

All I’m saying is, if you are British, you get it. If you are not, just remember that when you meet an Englishman, a Scottish man or Irishman (we probably won’t be walking into a bar together – another common mistake…) try to come up with something unique to ask us. That’s if you REALLY have to comment about our accent at all. If in doubt, talk about the weather. But in all seriousness, remember you sound weird as hell to us too. How did that beautiful, eloquent and poetic language turn in to:

American                             English

“Wah-der”                        “water” pronounced “War-ter”

“Dawg”                               “Dog” pronounced “Dog”

“Bahl”                                  “Ball” pronounced “Bawl”

And don’t even get me started on the fact “y’all” dropped letters from words!

Colour became color. Grey became gray.  Behaviour became behavior. Like what is the issue with the letter “u”?   you also have a problem with the letter “S”, you just had to swap it for a “Z”. For ex. Emphasize used to be emphasise. No wonder half of my friends on Facebook think I’m dyslexic. Microsoft word spell check just crashes when I start writing a letter. it probably thinks “Holy hell there is no helping this woman!”. It actually just dawned on me that maybe why my news feed often advertises “Learn English with Duo Lingo” ads.

So not only do I not know how to communicate in English anymore, but I find myself constantly and unconsciously changing my accent when I go into stores, so that I can be understood better, or maybe so that no one asks me anything personal. I didn’t realise (ooops I meant realize) how much my accent has actually changed. I have picked up on many of the southern inflections, so much so, when I phone home, my friends and family say I have an Australian twang now.

I guess that explains question no.2 (see above hahaha).

Welcome to It’s A Hard Mutt!

I’m so glad you stopped by to visit my page! I created this site with the sole intention of sharing everything mutt, everything British and everything Bex! “Bex? Who or what is Bex?!” you say. Well, i’m Bex and every Tuesday and Friday I dedicate to letting you dive a little more into my wild life. A British born, green card holder, business owner, dog groomer, “pet expert” karaoke super star, living the “American dream” in the south with far too many comical and extraordinary stories going to waste at my local Irish pub.

If you like dogs, nature, TRUE supernatural experiences (Ancient Astronaut theorists say yes!!!!) , travel, international relocation or just plain hilarious stories that you would not believe, you have come to the right place! I hope through this blog, you will come to know me a little better and maybe my stories, recommendations and my journey will make you smile, inspire you or maybe just help you fall asleep quicker at night! Who knows? I guess we’ll find out!

In the wilderness

About me:

I was born in 1989 to a typical working class family in the southern suburbs of London, England. I spent the first 24 years of my life wandering the streets of London, visiting museums, becoming enthralled in the history and natural world, enjoying the theater and nightlife that that mysterious city had to offer but do you know what the best thing about growing up in London is? Public transport! I didn’t drive a car until I was twenty one years old. Now, I did at one point own a Piaggo 125cc City fly scooter, which at the time I thought I was the coolest red head on wheels, however, with access to ample trains, buses, trams and coach connections around the country, you could get just about anywhere! Those trains sent me to so many amazing places. I cannot wait to share them with you! Maybe I will help give you some unique travel destination ideas for the next time you want to visit the British Isles.

Growing up in the U.K as a red head, (and a very bright red head at that) my school memories aren’t the most pleasant as I was often bullied (more stories to tell later). It was during my school years that I realized I had no patience for humans. I began forming a very harmonious relationship with animals but one animal in particular- dogs! My whole life since, has been surrounded by dogs. After all they are mans best friend for a reason! With my bias towards animals, I decided to go into the dog grooming industry so that I could have an outlet for my love and appreciation of dogs. I also wanted to be able to have some creative freedom and an outlet. I did not realize how much I would learn about dogs, pet care, relationships, love, life and nurture from that one career decision. It opened up so many avenues for me. I intend on sharing so many of those tips, experiences and adventures with you!

I am sure you want to ask the question everyone asks me at our first meeting? “What brought you to America?”. Well let’s just say a very young and naive marriage, that did not go very well! But, if there is anything that those school years truly taught me, it would be perseverance and resilience! There is always a silver lining to every difficult endeavor and always a light at the end of every tunnel, no matter how long they may seem! So here I am, 5 years into owning my own Dog grooming and pet care business, living in a log cabin on 2.5 acres, in the middle of a quaint southern town named “Waxhaw”. Here I am surrounded by woods, wild animals, ducks, chickens, dogs and a ghost named “Emily”(Definite more stories about her later!) .

I look forward to sharing with you, but also cannot wait to invite you, first class as a passenger on my journey and all the chaos and fun that goes along with it. So buckle up, relax and sit back and enjoy the inflight entertainment!