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Why will I miss England?Soon I will be saying goodbye to London, my surrogate home for the past five months, and although I am excited about returning home to a place that I love, I can already feel a small feeling of nostalgia creeping towards me at the thought of leaving England. But why, exactly? It certainly has nothing to do with the weather, the underground or London's famously inflated prices...So, what will this French girl miss when she returns to the continent?
If you had told me five months ago that I would miss the English food some day, I would probably have laughed at you. I must concede that I had a lot of preconceived ideas about English cooking…sneering at the mention of British cuisine seems to be deeply instilled from birth in most of the French population. Each time I go home, all my friends repeatedly question me on how I can possibly survive English food! They still abide by the much loved stereotype that the average Briton lives on a diet of overboiled veg/meet smothered in mint sauce and simply cannot begin to imagine that there are actually a vast amount of wonderful products here! And all the French who have ever lived in Britain would agree with me.
The English breakfast
It is such a pleasure on a Sunday morning to enjoy a real English breakfast whilst reading the paper. The eggs, the bacon, the toasts, the baked beans… The meer act of writing about it makes me drool! I shall definitely be continuing this little Sunday tradition. Unfortunately, it will have to be without the baked beans, very hard to find in France, except in Paris. So, if somebody see me wandering around the supermarkets in a desperate quest for a blue tin written “Heinz” on it, please spare a thought, I will be suffering severe withdrawal system.
TThese little marvels are pure magic. When they are warm and your butter is melting and filling the tiny holes… hummm… These are another thing I have never seen in France and which i will certainly miss...
The steak and ale pie
This British speciality was my first meal in an English pub. I still remember my surprise when I saw its name on the menu: “ Steak and beer together in a pie? What a strange idea!” I thought. But one has to be curious sometimes. And I was not disappointed! I liked it so much that I tracked down the recipe and prepared one for my family the last time I went back. The problem is that you can’t do a steak and ale pie without ale. And it is very hard to find this delicious beer on my side of the Channel. I guess I’ll have to find an English pub in my city!
The Lemon Curd
I am not a big fan myself, but I am sure my sister will regret the good times when I returned laden with gifts of this intriguing spread. According to her, no Lemon Curd is as good as the one which comes directly from England.
The 24/7 supermarkets
I do not work very late in the evening, so I usually manage to do my shopping within decent hours. But I must concede that sometimes, when I have an especially busy week, I am very happy to find my Tesco or Asda still open at 11pm, or on Sunday- something unheard of in France where food shops occasionally even close for lunch!. But I am also somewhat glad I do not work there…
The vintage shops
London is undeniably the paradise of vintage shopping. I knew it from my very first glimpse of Londoners. From the Brick Lane shops to the various second-hand markets, vintage style is everywhere… Even in Urban Outfitters! The day you find a vintage section in a big shop in Paris, please let me know!
Order a pint without a surprised look from the waiter
In the UK, it seems perfectly normal for a woman to order a pint of beer at the pub. Try the same in Paris. You’ll probably see a strange look on the waiter’s face, making you feel uncomfortable, almost guilty. Pints are for men; and a well brought up woman has to drink wine or port. Beer can be ok as long as it is small, in a glass bottle, and says either Desperado or Corona on it. Beautiful proof of gender equality…
The choice of restaurants
Whatever you want to eat, you can always find it in London. The number and diversity of restaurants is just amazing… that is one my taste buds will definitely miss! (My purse, on the contrary, will perhaps be relieved…)
The British habit to send cards
Christmas, birthdays, or just to say thank you, any occasion is good for a Brit to write a card. It is a lovely habit we have completely lost in France. What a pity… Call me old school if you want, but I will always think that a card has much more charm than an e-mail.
Their respect of women
Since arriving in London, I have never got whistled at on the street, and no man has ever tried to touch me or my bottom on a crowded underground. I have checked in the mirror: I am not fatter than in France, nor have I suffered from a sudden bout of adult acne. So I guess the Brits just have more respect for women…?
When I first came, I had that cliché in mind that the Brits are all very kind and polite. I have since found out that this is actually true! Each time I asked a Londoner for directions, for instance, he always seemed happy to help me. In Paris you should consider yourself lucky if somebody even deigns to answer you! I also love the nicknames British people give me so easily, such as “my love”, or “sweet heart”. I have never heard one salesman or waiter naming me “mon coeur” or “mon
amour” in France (they usually limit themselves to aggressive grunting) And I must say I would find it very strange! But here it seems natural; and those little names often brighten up my day.
When it comes to clothes, the Londoners never cease to amaze me. From Camden’s punks, to City suits and flashy girls in nightclubs; I have never seen such a style diversity in one city. It gave me the wonderful feeling that I could wear whatever I wanted and that nobody would care.
Finally, what I will miss the most when I leave Britain is, quite simply, the Brits… Ok, I am not always receptive to their sense of humour, but their politeness, welcoming smiles and amazing sense of fun and style is something that I will find hard to leave behind.
In a word, I spent a meer five months here, but it was enough for me to learn to love this city. I will miss England, that is certain, but I also know it won't be too long before I come back...
And you, what would you miss if you were leaving Britain?
Read also: Those little French things we all miss
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