What should they know of England who only England know?
Originally written by Rudyard Kipling but Mitch has quoted this to me on numerous occasions. Only now do I appreciate the sentiment. When you travel a lot, you learn about other countries. However, the more you travel, the more you also learn about your home country.
While in Merida, Mexico, we frequently visited the same cafe to do work. On the third occasion, I ordered my regular black tea with milk. The barrister asked me, “where are you from?” “England” I replied. “I knew it. All the people who order black tea with milk are English.”
You begin to realise what things are truly British. For example, trying to explain crumpets, Yorkshire puddings and a cheeky Nandos to Americans can be challenging. I feel so British trying to explain how there is no ‘tea time.’ Tea time is always.
Arriving Back in the UK
When we landed in Glasgow it was raining. I enjoyed it. I loved seeing the rain because it was that very British drizzle, not like the crazy thunderstorm rain we had in Mexico. It felt like home.
We arrived at our hostel and asked the girl at reception where we could get some breakfast “There’s a ‘spoons across the road,” she replied in a strong scottish accent. Well, it’s lucky we’re British because the Mexicans who were on our plane and at the same hostel clearly wouldn’t have understood her recommendation. Side note: Who recommends spoons for breakfast when somebody has clearly just landed in Scotland? Take me to the Haggis! (We actually did go to ‘spoons though. Funny the things you miss).
I loved the free museums in Glasgow. I loved catching up with family & friends in Newcastle. I ate fish and chips. I drank tea. I dipped my toes in the English channel. I caught a cold. It was brilliant.
Travelling more of the UK is something I really want to do (just need to learn to drive first). An American friend is currently travelling the UK and her Instagram photos are inspiring me and showing me that it’s such a beautiful country.
What is British?
I’ve had the joy of attending two weddings since being back in the UK. One in Oxford and one in a small village in Wales. Both occasions were fantastic as I got to catch up with family. But, I think this photo sums up the Britishness fantastically:
While travelling, I love meeting people from all over the world. I’ve met people from Chile, Cameroon, New Zeland, Isreal, Egypt, Nepal, Denmark, Russia, Colombia (I’ve not been to any of those countries). Yet, as much as I love meeting these people, when I meet a British person, I can’t help but talk to them. We’ve made some good friends with British people on our travels. During our last couple of days in Isla Holbox we spent time with a couple from Oxford. We talked about London, the general election, applying for University, the lack of Mexican food in the UK.
When I travel, I learn a lot about what I miss and love about the UK. For me, being British is drinking tea, eating crumpets, a roast dinner on a Sunday, a cheeky Nandos, Christmas cards being sold in August in Card Factory, annual reunions at ‘spoons, seeing family and friends, complaining about First Bus, rain all summer long and knowing that I won’t be able to buy a house for at least another 5 years.