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Brits come together in Hudson

You might have mistaken the gathering in Michael and Tracy Walk's back yard on Saturday for an English barbecue.

In fact, it practically was.

A group of five British women that found each other as the result of stories that appeared in the Hudson Star-Observer got together again - this time along with their husbands and children, and a couple of other expatriate Brits they discovered residing in Hudson.

"There were just all sorts of expressions coming out when we all got together," said hostess Tracy Walk. "Probably everybody's accents got thicker. I could see a couple of guys (their American husbands) looking at each other like, huh, what did they just say?"

They wore their Union Jack shirts, snacked on sausage rolls and strawberry scones, dined on roasted leg of lamb with mint sauce, hoisted a pint, and never once had to repeat themselves.

"Good show" are the words Veronica Stine, a newcomer to the group, would use to describe the party.

"Everybody had such a nice time we're going to make it an annual event," said Walk. "We're really excited."

It all started with a story about Felicity Plansky and her husband, Dave, that appeared in the Star-Observer just after Christmas.

Walk, who had been feeling a little homesick, was interested to read about another Englishwoman in the area and did something very uncharacteristic for the British. She contacted a total stranger by e-mail and asked if she would be interested in getting together for a chat.

The same week, Plansky met Debbie Schnieter, another Englishwoman living in the area, through the Hudson Moms Group.

Around Valentine's Day, the Star-Observer ran a story about how the Walks met and fell in love aboard a cruise ship.

Kim Strong, a Briton who works as a stylist at a'la Mode salon, read it and contracted Walk. Then Lisa Titterton, who lives in Hudson with her British husband, Jonathan, heard about the other Englishwomen and gave Walk a call.

The group began holding a monthly Brit Girl's Night Out.

On the first night out, they went to an Indian restaurant in Woodbury for curry.

The second gathering was a "Let's Watch Dirty Den Die" party, hosted by Walk. Dirty Dennis was a character in the British soap opera East Enders that got killed off in an episode that Walk's father videotaped and mailed to her from England.

"His nickname was Dirty Den because he was a bit of a Jack the lad. He was a bit of a wanderer," Walk explained.

Jack the lad is an English expression for a roguish fellow known for minor sins and crimes.

Another time, the Englishwomen gathered at Plansky's house for Pimm's and pedicures. Pimm's is a gin-based liquor made in England from dry gin, liqueur, fruit juices and spices.

Walk says it's been great fun making new friends from her native England.

"I do have American friends, and I have nice friends here," she said, "but it's wonderful to look at someone, say a word and have them crack up, too, because they know exactly what you mean."

It can be tiring to have to repeat yourself to be understood, she said.

Walk says their husbands are happy for them. "They kind of hide a bit when it's at their house," she added.

Englishwoman Veronica Stine and her husband, Richard, were also guests at Saturday's party, along with Catherine "Scottie" McLean, a longtime Hudsonite, and Walk's sister Caroline, who lives in Pepin.

Walk would like to learn of other Britons residing in the St. Croix River Valley. You can contact her by e-mail at

Randy Hanson can be reached at

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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