Friday, 9 May 2014

Normally Not: 10 completely ordinary things I love in the UK.

I recently returned from the UK (Scotland and London) and have been thinking about some of the everyday things that I love when I’m there that locals probably take for granted or maybe even deride at times.  

10. Greggs – It’s just a bakery but it’s a family favourite, no trip to the UK would be complete without a Greggs’ breakfast and a cake for morning tea.  

9. Dave – I get why it’s a bit of a joke over there but after a long day of driving or walking, you get back to your hotel room, still a bit jetlagged and you just want to lay on your bed and watch 5 episodes of QI back to back while you snooze on and off. Well look no further than Dave (for the unaware Dave is a TV channel). 

Speaking of getting back to the hotel… 

8. Premier Inn – Cheap, clean and the same in every town. If it was not for the fact that one looked
out on Edinburgh Castle and the next one looked out on a car park next to a motor way, I could not tell one room from the next.    

Edinburgh Castle

7. Drivers – The roads in the UK are ridiculous. The only saving grace is the drivers. If you had the
UK road system and Australian drivers it would be Carmageddon in less than 20 minutes. The roads work because the drivers seem to operate on the simple assumption that they need to cooperate with each other. Revolutionary.  

6. Soup – I could no doubt find someplace near home that has soup on the menu but in the UK everywhere seems to have it on the menu. Walk into any café, restaurant or even most pubs and ask what the soup on the day is and you can soon be sitting down with a nice crusty roll and bowl of red lentil, winter vegetable or chicken and leak. Cheap, warm, filling, tasty and ubiquitous soup – what’s not to love. 

5. Old – The UK does old well. 


4. New – somehow they do new well at the same time, often side by side. 

3. The Views – maybe it’s just because familiarity breeds contempt but take a train ride from Sydney to Newcastle then take one from London to Newcastle and compare the view. 

Speaking of trains 

2. The Underground – I love the underground in a way that only someone who doesn’t have to ride it every day can. Even with its failings, that I’m sure are infuriating to the locals, the underground puts every other public transport system I’ve ever used to same. It’s convenient but that’s not why I love it. I love it because it is an experience from the moment you venture into the netherworld in one part of the city until you emerge back into the light in another part of town.     

1. Just being there – In the end the number one ordinary thing I love about the UK is the least ordinary thing – being there at all. The best part about being in the UK is being in the UK. The same could be said about being anywhere you are normally not but if I had my pick of normally not there places to be, I’d choose the UK any day.

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