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