Tuesday, 6 May 2008

It's not all grey skies and tasteless food...

I’ve now been living in the UK for over 11 years so although I’m not by any definition English, I do claim to have more than a passing acquaintance with the culture. There are an awful lot of things that baffle me, surprise me or just annoy me about this country but there are also an awful lot of things that I really, really like. I’m feeling generous and happy so here is a list of things I like about England and the UK, in no particular order.

  • The charming regional accents. Sure, sometimes I barely understand what some people are saying (particularly if they are from ‘up North’ or Scottish) but doesn’t it sound lovely? I still can’t tell them apart either – someone could sound Irish to me but they’re actually from Liverpool or whatever – but I do still like listening to all those accents.
  • Indian food. Oh yes, I have grown to love this cuisine, which to me is probably more British than a Sunday roast. It is available pretty much everywhere, in lots of varieties and it generally tastes unbelievably nice. A curry and a beer… mmmmm!
  • London. I live just under an hour away from London (by train) and this is definitely one of my favourite cities in the world. It has it all: amazing architecture, tons of history, fantastic restaurants, the West End, people from all over the world, red double-decker buses, enormous parks, and so on. On a rainy day London can even be fun with all those free (and totally amazing) museums but on a sunny day London can’t be beat. I really love it and am also very glad I don’t live there.
  • TV. Whenever I go back home I always miss the great quality TV that we have here in the UK. I don’t only mean the BBC but also the other terrestrial channels and of course the digital ones. In general I find that there is always something interesting and/or funny to watch (and YES sometimes that means that it is actually American TV shows but it still counts) and this isn’t always the case in other countries I’ve visited. The BBC of course makes the best documentaries and factual shows but there is great stuff on Channel 4 too, for example. I don’t like paying my TV license, though – I have problems with paying what is essentially a tax on TV but that is a discussion for another time.
  • Working hours and working conditions. I know that Brits do like to moan about working long hours (and some do) and that the working conditions are poor. Well, where I come from you’re lucky to get 2 weeks paid holiday a year, lucky if you can survive being fired simply for being pregnant and lucky sometimes to have a job at all. So I enjoy the luxury of 6 weeks paid holiday, 35 hour working weeks and a range other benefits that go some way towards helping me achieve the ideal work-life balance.
  • Fashion. Whenever I go back to the USA I am always excited about the very low cost of clothes and the variety available. However, with few exceptions, I always find that clothes are far more fashionable here in the UK and the high street shops are fantastic places to shop. I really like the way girls dress here and I have found my fashion taste changing the longer I live here. I don’t, however, like the fact that shops seem to think that February is the beginning of summer (ignoring the freezing outside temperatures) and that August if the start of winter (the sun finally comes out and all they sell is winter coats) but I do like the collections and have found that I am buying more clothes than ever before.
  • Availability of technology. I know some people will moan about broadband penetration figures and lack of Internet access but let’s face it – technology is pretty much available all the time, everywhere. More and more people are going online, have mobile phones, satellite TV and MP3 players. It just isn’t the same in other countries, even including the USA. I don’t think I could live my life these days without online banking and e-commerce.
  • Bookstores. Talking about shopping, these days if I’m not out there shopping for some amazing outfit, I’m probably heading to a bookstore to get a book. There are SO many amazing books out there! I’ve always preferred to read in English so of course bookstores around here are paradise but even on my last trip to the States I didn’t find as many interesting books as I do on a regular basis at my local Borders. I don’t know why – maybe it’s a cultural thing – but bookstores here in the UK are fantastic. Some even have Starbucks in them!
  • Post (Mail in the USA). Where I come from, I probably received letters about once a month. I only developed a relationship with my mailman once I started high school and discovered that our report cards would be mailed to us… and he was a key element in helping me intercept these cards! But in the main, hardly anything is posted because it will simply never get there – credit card bills, utility bills, anything like that is couriered rather than mailed. Here in the UK though we get post every day. And we get lots of it, although some of it is junk (I like looking through it though, after all I am in marketing!). I love getting post and love the fact that you can send something to someone and it will actually get there, more often than not. Isn’t that great?
  • Eurovision. I know that most Brits (and perhaps even most Europeans) think that this whole show is a joke and will not watch it but I absolutely love it! Imagine this – acts from each of the EU countries perform together on one stage and at the end, people from all over Europe vote to see which is the best one. It goes on for hours, has all sorts of weird and wacky performers, nonsense English lyrics on some songs and ridiculous outfits. It’s huge fun! Sure there are politics and block voting but it is silly, harmless fun and I have watched it religiously every year since I moved here.

So there you have it – a list of 10 things that I think are fantastic about the UK, things that I would definitely miss if I was to move away. Did I miss anything? Leave me your comments as I’d love to hear what would be on your list!


Gin said...

I'll have a think about my 10 things. I am glad you like us really Claudia! LOL.

Lauren said...

Great job! I would be elated to have 6 weeks paid holiday!

Tinkerbelle said...

You have made me have a little think!!!!

Inspiration Alley said...

Interesting to see what others think are defining features about England that they'd miss if they lived elsewhere. I'll have a think about my list, not easy to think of things that I wouldn't have access to if I lived elsewhere. Definitely making me think.

daydreamer said...

fascinating list! glad you like the UK, alot of us moan that we would leave if we could! typical i suppose! :)

Shirley said...

Certainly a thought provoking post, makes me feel glad to live here in Oxford, being 1 hour away from London and living in a beautiful city full of history :)

Angela said...

Have you been to Scotland yet? It is beautiful and am sure we can teach you a few scottish words, lol!

dddeeebbbzzz said...

A thought provoking post! We are constantly bombarded by people moaning about the UK and how it is going down the drain. We forget that we are so fortunate and that any of the things we take foregranted are things we should be grateful for. It's often the little things that we miss when we are away from 'home'. My sister lives in Switzerland and misses Cadbury's Flakes, Licorice Comfits and sausages!


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