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.
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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:
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’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.