Monday, October 3, 2011

Things that I do and don’t miss about the UK

Every British expat blogger at some point has to write the what-I-miss-since-I-moved-away-from-Blighty list.  It is obligatory.  So here is mine.

Do Miss

Hot cheese and onion pasties (especially on a cold, rainy day).  Hot pasties don’t feature a great deal in sub-tropical Florida.  I have yet to find a branch of Gregg’s.

Affordable dental treatment.  My dentist warned me in sombre tones about the US being absurdly expensive for dental treatment and the standards of treatment being very variable.  I didn’t believe him until I got here.  Some treatment is well over ten times what I paid on the NHS in the UK!  Crazy.

Walking places and catching a train.  I’m completely car dependent where I am living, which is a far more common situation in the US generally, as the towns and cities are often spread out thinly.  I really miss being able to walk to the shops, or back from the pub, and being able to choose to go on a train somewhere.

Hills and mountains.  It’s very flat in Florida.  Climbing up at Otley Chevin or gazing out over the mountains of Cumbria does have a big appeal, although I do enjoy the swampiness here too, but in a different way.

Beans on toast.  Although you can actually buy Heinz beans in the English Section at one of the local supermarkets, so maybe I should do that!  I love it that they have English food section sandwiched in the “ethnic” area between Indian and Chinese, like we are somehow exotic!  Much of it’s the crap food British people ate back in the 1980s, though, stuff like tinned treacle puddings, but I guess the older Brits must buy it?  Or maybe I am just a snob about food?  Both are probably true!

British politics.  American politics is just screwed: playground arguments that pass for a debate, a divided political class who hate each other, a stagnant and archaic political structure founded 200 years ago that can’t cope with the modern world and makes the British system look almost modern… Okay, maybe not quite, but the situation isn’t good!

Don’t miss

The British weather.  Although the sun in Summer can be oppressive here in Florida, I hate those weeks in Britain when it never gets light and just keeps on raining…

Rude store staff.  I hate it when you are stood at the checkout and the person who is running your stuff through the till is talking to one of their mates and ignoring you.  That doesn’t happen so much in the US.  I find it embarrassing to be British sometimes, when I see how rude some of my fellow countrymen can be.

Tea drinking culture.   Tea and the rituals of making and drinking it are revered in the UK, but I’ve never cared for the stuff, so I don’t miss it.  Give me a mug of coffee and I am happy.  Or better still, a beer!  Not all American beer is crap either.  Only about 2/3 of it.  There are actually some great American breweries and failing that, there is plenty of Continental European stuff to buy too – although  the Americans do insist on selling European beer in small bottles, for some strange reason.

Marmite (yuck yuck yuck!)  Why do British expats go on about Marmite? 

The British royal family  I have never been a big fan of the Royal Family, although I did have fun watching the Will and Kate wedding, I admit.  Actually, when I think about it, there’s actually probably *more* coverage of the Royal Family over here than there is in Britain!

British Celebs that I really can’t stand, but they also moved over here, so it feels like I can’t escape from them!

Russell Brand

The Beckhams

Piers Morgan


  1. Is it bad that you say 'pastie' and I think of those things that girls use to cover their upper lady parts?!? haha. Sorry, I'm weird like that. But cheese and onion, sounds sooo good. I would enjoy it and the accompanying stinky breath to go with it. If you wouldn't mind, I might have to do a little something like this on my blog. I would of course reference ya :)

  2. Oh for a Greggs franchise in the US. I'd part with the "ethnic" shelf in my local supermarket for one of those!

  3. Oh, I hadn't thought about beans on toast! I must ask Ben if we can get Heinz in Charlotte.

  4. some cities are easy to get around, Austin, New Orleans, NYC, the beer is getting better here, and as for hills, Georgia isnt too far from Florida, you made the right choice, but get out explore this pretty country of ours a bit, Kevin

  5. @Texa - Oops, I must have made an involuntary faux pas/double entendre, or something? lol

    @Expat Mum - Although food and climate do go together. Down here in FL a lot of my English recipes just seem too stodgy to eat most of the year! It does amuse me so many of the US Southerners eat lots of deep fried food, though, and that many of the original settlers down here were from Scotland - Coincidence? ;-)

    @Eve - Yes, I don't know what the situation will be up there. Florida is a touristy state and people come here to retire, so it differs a bit from other places.

    @Kevin - Yes, the US has all sorts of climates and terrain and some far bigger mountains that the UK. The mountains in England are just really big hills(!) I just need some effing money, then I could go off exploring...! ;-)

  6. If you come up to Huntington again, try Canterbury Ale's. They have good beer and English pub food.

    I always wondered if you could use a little Marmite or Vegemite to flavor onion soup or a stew of some sort.

  7. Yes, I'd love to. Although I am more of a lager person in general. English beer is okay occassionally. German Weissen is my fave beer. They were selling the Texan beer, Shiner, down here in Florida cheaply when I used to visit. Oh course, when I moved here, they increased the price by about 50%!!! (They must've just been trying to get people hooked!)

    Well, you've caught me out with the Marmite comment as I did actually buy a jar for that very purpose - Sh, don't tell anyone! ;-)

  8. The pasties are yummy, but I just don't get beans on toast :)

  9. Hey Paul...great post! I know one of the things I will miss is being able to walk places. I really want to settle someone where I am the mode of my own transportation for a large majority of the time! Hahaha

  10. If you ever get a chance to visit Nelson county in Virginia, go. Very mountainous and one of the most beautiful places in the US. You might feel less homesick....

    I love the hilly Kent countryside too, and the specific green that I can't quite yet explain.

    Wow--an Englishman who's not passionate about tea--haven't seen that yet. The rules (esp at work) about tea are elaborate, yes, and I'm always afraid of breaking them!

    My husband is a huge coffee fan, but maintains that a cup of tea can solve any problem....

  11. @tara - It's not just tea either, I'm also an Englishman who doesn't like cricket! :-D

  12. Not even Americans like Peirs Morgan.