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The Best of Britain

Today is my three year anniversary of living in Scotland. I cannae believe it, hen! So let’s all celebrate with a week of special Anniversary posts, gazing fondly back at 1096 days of adventure! But don’t panic, I’m not going to rehash them individually. And when I said “week” I probably mean “month”, knowing my typically slacketyslackarse rate of publication.

. . .

On a particularly miserable rainy night last week, Gareth and I were watching the Commonwealth Games. It was shot after shot of lovely sunny Melbourne – all blue skies, cafes, green parks and goodness.

“WHY did you come here?” Gareth cried, “WHY?!”

“I don’t knoooow!”

We howled at the telly for awhile.

Why indeed? Goodness knows I’ve spent much of the past three years whining endlessly en blog about my homesickness and the apparent superiority of all things Down Under. I am always waiting for the indignant email, “Well if you love Australia so much, WHY DON’T YOU GO BACK THERE!?”.

I may bitch about the darkness, the deep-fried and the price of undies, but I do love it here! While I will never stop pining for the friends, family and food back home, I have settled into life in the UK.

We humans are good at adapting to new environs; we make things work wherever we are. That’s what makes us the superior species! You never hear a koala say, “Dude, I am going to live in the Bahamas just to see what it’s like”. Nor have I met a monkey just back from a gap year in Iceland. So here’s a few things I’ve come to love over the past few years:

The Food
While I’ve got good blog mileage from the shitty cuisine of Scotland, it’s not all lard and animal bits. I now can’t imagine life without clementines, curry, creme fraiche or Green and Blacks chocolate (although G&Bs is now sold in Australia). British cheese rules. And you can’t beat the local berries in the summertime. Berries are about the only thing cheaper here than in Oz. I love the comfort foods like sticky toffee pudding and bacon sandwiches. I love eating a hot Christmas lunch when it’s actually cold outside. I love fish and chips at the beach in summer when it’s almost as cold as Christmas. I love reading food magazines where they talk about damsons and treacle and rhubarb and toad in the hole; all that stuff I previously only knew from Enid Blyton books. It all just makes me want to knot some sheets together and climb out the window of the boarding school, and meet up with my pals for a midnight feast. HURRAH!

Twice The Workplace Bludging
Summer is in July, Christmas is in December. Obviously. But this means DOUBLE THE BLUDGE! The festive season is a blur of boozy office parties and diminished work ethic. Then once you’ve survived the bleakness of February, it’s almost spring, which is almost summer! So the workload slows a little, and everyone nicks off to Spain. They come back blistered and glowing and their colleagues squeal, “You’re looking well!”. Meanwhile back in Australia, July is the start of the financial year and the middle of winter. We’re all working like mad and there’s no fun until Christmas. I have grown fond of the UK working year; the next holiday never seems too far away.

The Benefits of a Small Island
After the vastness of Australia, I still can’t get my head around the weeness of the UK. An hour in the car and you’re in the Scottish Highlands. The same on the plane and you’re in London or Amsterdam, and one more you’re in Paris. New York is a long weekend instead of your life savings and possible deep vein thrombosis. “Are we there yet?” has vanished from my vocabulary!

The Telly
The telly’s good here, kiddies. If you can wade through the reality shows there’s some cracking stuff left behind. My favourite shows are Top Gear, Grand Designs and The Hairy Bikers, the latter I believe is now being shown in Oz, hurrah! Top Gear is, oddly enough, about cars. As well as road testing posh vehicles, they also engage in brilliant acts of destruction like:

  • A football match with a giant ball and ten Toyota Aygos as players
  • Racing a Mazda MX5 against a greyhound
  • Putting a Citroen 2CV behind a jumbo jet with engines blazing – POW!
  • Strapping a couple of rockets to a Mini and blasting it down an Olympic ski jump – watch here!

I also love this whole interactive digital television thingy. We paid £30 for a wee box that you plug into the telly, and were rewarded with oodles of extra channels. Which we hardly watch. However, it’s all about the sport! I already loved watching sport on the BBC – no advertising! – but now magic happens when you press the Red Button. Interaction! Multiple screens! For free! During Wimbledon you can flip between all the different matches. During the Commonwealth Games when the synchronised swimming became too exciting, I could just press Red and switch to Weightlifting or Bowls. The plethora of choice makes me feel all giddy with the power!

The Sunday Papers
Soon after arrival, I discovered that the Sunday paper was the best way to fake knowing what the bloody hell was going on in this country. News, sport, arts, all for £1.50! These days I get The Observer mainly for the supplements. They are the Master of the Supplement! They’re better than many glossy magazines, packed with quality photos and cracking stories. I always make myself read the newsy newspaper bits first, then carefully fold them up and put them in the recycling, and only then am I allowed to read the supplement. Ooh there’s nothing like prolonged anticipation. There’s a different theme each week – Food, Sport or Music. Is there anything more important in life than Food, Sport or Music?! Not to me, chaps. If they could rename the fourth supplement Sleep, it would be the perfect quartet.

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About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m an author, copywriter and old school blogger. I love telling stories about life and helping my clients to tell theirs. Find out more about me and how we can work together.


19 thoughts on “The Best of Britain

  1. Well, we DO have rhubarb, Top Gear and Sunday papers in Melbourne. Sunday papers were one of the things I really mised in Amsterdam, that endless sunday morning-into-afternoon thing with piles and piles of paper and coffee!

  2. Ah man, I freakin’ love Top Gear! And I don’t know anything about cars!

    Unfortunately, being in the US I don’t get to see it very often!

  3. G & B chocolate!!!! My brother and his girlfriend live in London at the moment, and I was told that G & B was the best. I was dubious, until I visited last year, when I was forced to admit that G & B is undeniably the most freakingly awesomely scrummy chocolate every! Who knew that plain old milk chocolate could be fantastic! And then there is the dark chocolate, the Maya Gold, the Butterscotch Dark Chocolate and the Ginger Chocolate. I went slightly nuts in a Tescos the day I left London and bought lots and lots. And my ranting about how good it was may have convinced the checkout guy that he should try it.

    Since then, I have jealously hoarded my stash of G&B. I made my parents bring it back last October (and berated my father when he “accidentally” ate some of it), my best friend bring it back in January, and I nearly cried when my brother’s girlfriend spontaneously brought me back some at Christmas.

    It is indeed sold in Australia, but the store closest to me that stocks it has a very limited selection, and it costs about $8 for 100g. Which considering that it is a premium imported chocolate, isn’t that obscene. But I plan on making my brother ship me out a carton of it when my current treasure chest runs dry. How I wish I had access to all the other G&B chocolate range – biscuits, icecream etc. Especially the G&B version of Nutella!!!

    And now I seem just a wee bit obsessed. But honestly, though Cadbury is remarkably good for a very reasonable price, G&B puts it to shame.

  4. Aah, Top Gear. I have no clue about cars either, but Top Gear is still the best – unlimited sarcasm mixed with fancy cars! It brings households together all over the world.

  5. Not to mention the railway network (which, for all the rubbishing it gets, knocks anything Australia has to offer into a cocked hat).

    I’ll have to check out the quality British TV, once I live somewhere that’s not with housemates who only watch football, Eastenders and vegetatively mindless American sitcoms on cable. (Hopefully within the next few months.)

  6. You’ve made me homesick!

    Does Jeremy Clarkson still have that show called something along the lines of “the man show” where he does stunts like that mini-launching all episode?

  7. Hey – what about the Scottish Companion? How come he doesn’t get a mention? If it wasn’t for him you would have had to go back to Oz! 😉

  8. Dear Shauna – I don’t know whether to thank you or curse you – I tried the G&B chocolate – it is FANTASTIC!! I rang the Australian distributor and was surprised at the amount of shops that sell it. To those in OZ – IGA supermarkets have a variety of 100g blocks for $5.05 each – dark, milk, almond, mint, Maya – I have bought one of each – and they also have the drinking chocolate powder for $15. The best part is that they are not in the shelves in the confectionary aisles – they are with the HEALTH foods – now I can eat as much as I like and pretend that I am eating it for the good of my body, ha ha!

  9. I know this is nothing to do with anything…but I came here via a blog listed on BlogMad (a traffic exchange program)…well this blog had your blog in her blogroll…and the name was interesting so I clicked on it…and now I just want you to know that I hold you fully responsible…for the DAMN TOM JONES SONG PLAYING OVER AND OVER IN MY HEAD 🙂 Whoaa-aaa-whoaa-aaa-whoa-whoa

  10. The funny thing is I was just thinking about Enid Blyton books last night. Though I totally had forgotten the author’s name – I read the whole “St. Clare’s” series when I lived outside of London for a while when I was 12.
    I also love Scotland – my husband and I went there for our honeymoon last August and I cannae wait to go back. Wonderful place, it is.

  11. I haven’t tried G & B chocolate. But until I find someone in Oz that will sell me a YORKIE Bar, I will have to give it a go. I married a Yorkshireman, and now the poor thing is on the endless search for a good curry house that serves good english ales whilst you watch the football and top gear. We both love Australia, but a regular injection of pommy cliches is definately a must. Mmmm…. scampi crisps.

  12. Well I’ll just sit here and cry into my skinny latte shall I? G & B drinking choc powder is in the organics section in N.Z. so you might find it there in Oz too but the chocolate itself… nada. Another good reason for me to move from here to there then.

    For all my homesickness I’d never move back to Blighty. The bit about NYC not being lifetime savings never really applied to us because we always have to find 4 flights and not too. Hold off having kids if you want to travel. Costs us a fortune lugging them around the world with us. Happen I should trade them for G&B chocolate.

  13. Apart from being very very funny as usual, this was very interesting. I never quite understand why people from somewhere warm might want to live here. I mean, I want to live here, because it’s home and I actually quite like the weather. But it’s not exactly predictably sunny (though the sun is therefore more appreciated when it comes. And I myself think that the long summer days compensate for the short winter ones.)

    Oh, you do write well! (I’m sure I’m not remotely the first to encourage you to do it professionally.)You have a wide audience as it is, but deserve a wider one.

  14. this list is stuff that i happened to ‘discover’ and get into while living in the uk… I’m not saying any of it is necessarily exclusive to this wee island! i do realise we have sunday newspapers, rhubarb and interactive telly in oz 🙂

    glad to see the G&B Choc is taking over the world! Probably will do so even more now that Cadbury bought the company. Just don’t mess with the recipe, you bastards!

    cheers for your comments folks! hope you’re all having a tops weekend. it’s a sunny grey spring day here in Scotland. Ha ha ha…

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