Blogger Claire McGill, of River Hill, shares her experiences as a British expatriate.

Blogger Claire McGill, of River Hill, shares her experiences as a British expatriate. (photo by Jen Rynda / May 22, 2013)

Howard County really is nothing at all like my home back in the U.K., all things considered.

My family and I are what’s known as “expats,” and we’re fairly British in our politics, behaviors and spelling, but that doesn’t mean we are not keen to lap up new cultural influences.

Having only lived here since August 2012 we’ve taken on a whole new way of living, and HoCo is, for us, flawlessly family orientated -- a most appealing factor. What has also struck us during our day-to-day lives is how clean and open the area is, with an ideal mix of town and country. It’s a good mix, a healthy mix, in a refreshingly diverse community. I like that a lot. This is something that my son, Harry, age 5, would not necessarily experience in our hometown back in the U.K.

In order to make the most of our time out here we have created a family “bucket” list to tick off to ensure that we take full advantage of all that the county has to offer.

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HoCo Bucket List

Howard County Fair  (Much fun to be had.)

Ghost Tour of Ellicott City  (I love this little city.)

Columbia Festival of the Arts (I salute the culture!)

Howard County Farm to Table Restaurant Week (I do like a bit of lamb.)

Friendship Hot Air Balloon ride (If I’m brave enough.)

Merriweather Post Pavilion  (This is my idea of a perfect evening.)

Clark’s Elioak Farm (My son adores this place and its tractor rides.)

Getting dressed up for HonFest (Quirky fun.)

Washington National Pillow Fight Day (Yes, please!)

Orioles baseball games and maybe the Washington Nationals (­But I prefer the orange shirts of the Orioles!)

Lakefront lunchtime concerts at Lake Kittamaqundi (Already this is one of my favourite places in Columbia.)

Rodeo (In fact, anything with cowboys.)

Gosh, there really is so much to do. Maybe we’ll see you at one or more of these (we’ll be the Brits with the hamper, flask of tea and cucumber sandwiches!).

I’m also totally excited about the Fourth of July celebrations, which is quite amusing, all things/history considered! But let’s put the 200-year-old politics aside because there are parties to be had and I hear they are quite remarkable!

Whilst we’ve been trying all sorts of American traditions in order to experience a real American lifestyle, I have to admit that I do still crave a good old British cup of tea, and I’ve been doing my research to try and find out where that might exist. And, by Jove, I think I’ve found it! Bean Hollow in Ellicott City not only serves fine coffee, they also know how to serve a proper ‘cuppa’! It comes with a teapot and milk -- Dame Maggie and the cast of “Downton Abbey” would be in full admiration!