I once wrote a blog post about the ten things I love about Germany, and decided to follow it up with an equally positive list of things that I miss about Great Britain – an island I left five years ago but which I am fortunate enough to still visit regularly.
So in no particular order, here is my list…
1. Fish and Chips by the sea.
2. My Daughter. I know we parents have to get used to our children fleeing the nest, but for us, this came much earlier than we would have liked. She missed England so much that we arranged for her to return even though we knew that we had to stay behind in Germany. It is wonderful to see how happy she now is, and we can’t wait to spend time with her in the summer!
3. Its industrial heritage. Britain’s industrial revolution started before the advent of railways. The country needed a way to transport raw materials and finished goods around the country and to the sea ports such as Bristol and Liverpool. A vast network of canals began to be constructed in the 18th century thanks to the pioneering skills of James Brindley and this further fuelled the industrial revolution. Whilst trains, and eventually road transport, went on to supersede the canals, they are still an important part of the landscape and offer a magnificent way to explore the towns, cities and countryside. The locks, aqueducts, viaducts and tunnels allow you to admire the hard work, skill and innovation from all those years ago. And the traditional narrowboats, which are often beautifully decorated, provide a very leisurely way to explore with plenty of places to stop off for a pub lunch!
In addition to the canals, there are many steam railways and museums, some of which like Ironbridge make it is very easy to step back in time and to learn what it was really like to live all those years ago!
4. The friendly people. It goes without saying that I miss family and friends. But here I am talking about the ordinary person in the street. It’s not unusual to end up sharing life stories with complete strangers – the lady who serves up breakfast in the B&B, the girl who works behind the counter at the local book shop or the young man who cuts your hair. And it’s not for tips. It’s not because I am a special person because I am not! Perhaps some of it is because of the strong connection I feel when speaking to anyone who speaks my language and who comes from my nation. But I think it is mainly because the average person from Great Britain is genuinely friendly.
5. The theatre. Great Britain has many very talented people and you can enjoy the most wonderful evenings or afternoons at the theatre. My favourite shows are musicals, but I also enjoy pantomimes which are shown around the festive season. I love the witty innuendoes which have the parents screaming with laughter but which thankfully go over the kids’ heads. The audience participation adds to the fun and excitement, except once at the Swan Theatre in Worcester when a large actor dressed as a women made me part of the show for the hundreds watching! 🙂
6. The British Isles. First, it is important to note that this is a geographical region and not a single nation. According to the Ordnance Survey, The British Isles is made up of about 5000 small islands in addition to the larger islands of Great Britain and Ireland (other web sites show an even higher estimate). Some people might be surprised just how spectacular some of these are with their rugged coastlines against which the waves crash with relentless force. This awe-inspiring power and noise does not put off the many forms of wildlife that reside on and around these remote locations. Now, to say I am not an expert on birds would be a massive understatement, so I found a website called Skye Birds and randomly selected a few examples of birds that are seen on the Isle of Skye – the Cuckoo, the Eagle, the Puffin, and the Buzzard stood out for me. I have only been to a few of the small islands and would like to return and see more – it is amazing how much that you don’t get to see when it is right on your doorstep! The pictures below were taken on a family holiday to Jersey, which is an island so far south that some might claim it is not part of the British Isles.
But back to mainland Great Britain where I am from, the one thing I do miss is the fresh air that blows in from the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the Irish Sea and the English Channel. You don’t need to be near the coast to know that you are on an island!
7. Its cities. Well I have already written lots about Birmingham, but here are two more, London in the south east and Bristol in the south west of England.
8. The pubs. A nice pint of English bitter. A refreshing pint of Herefordshire cider. There have been lots of changes since I left England, but some of my fondest memories are of time spent in the local public houses which were at the heart of the communities in which I lived.
9. English breakfast. Sorry to return to the subject of food again, but the contents of my shopping basket during one of our recent trips back to England show just how much we miss our bacon, sausage and beans!
10. The medium-sized towns that I have lived in. The photos of the canals above show Stourport-on-Severn, but I also lived in Bewdley (I must find some photos of this town for you) and Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire (winter photos below).
And that’s it. I now feel quite emotional, so I had best go and put the kettle on and make a nice cup of tea! 🙂
Thanks to my sister for providing the photos of the canals. I do of course, miss you too! xx
© Chris Robinson 2014. All rights reserved.
Useful links for further information (which helped me with this blog post):
- BBC History. “Canals” http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/gallery_buildingstyles_05.shtml
- Ordnance Survey. “The difference between UK, Britain and the British Isles” http://www.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/blog/2011/08/whats-the-difference-between-uk-britain-and-british-isles/
- Skye Birds. “A birding guide to the Island of Skye” http://www.skye-birds.com