England is not a new country to me, but there are things you only really notice when you live somewhere for an extended period of time (and to that I might add, live somewhere for an extended period of time as an adult). Here are some of them for me;
1. Different words, phrases and pronunciations.
There are the obvious words for food bloggers, like aubergine instead of eggplant, and courgette instead of zucchini. Then, there are the words that it really matters to get right, like trousers instead of pants (which in the UK are men's underpants) and flip flops instead of thongs (I suspect no explanation is needed).
I've converted to pronouncing 'yoghurt' as yog-urt (instead of the Australian yo-ghurt) and am working on the English pronunciation of 'room', which is a mix between 'room' and 'rum' (in contrast to Australia's longer pronunciation of rooom). Most of the time I remember to say 'jacket potato' instead of 'baked potato'.
I don't think I'll ever say that I feel 'poorly', but it no longer sounds odd to hear others use it in place of 'ill' or 'sick'.
In a broader sense I'm better now at identifying accents from different parts of the UK, and London accents sound normal to me. When I hear an Australian, either on TV or on the street, their accent is simultaneously familiar but out of place. (I do appreciate I still sound Australian myself!)
|Ickworth House, Suffolk|
2. Different foods.
Oh goodness, the different foods. I have always loved the food on offer here, but I have never been in the country long enough to consistently stock a pantry or see the changes in produce across the year.
I am now a firm convert to British berries, apples and potatoes, have a love affair with Whole Foods, M&S Food, Tesco and Waitrose (I'm not the faithful sort when it comes to food stores), and continually delight in the ready availability of vegan food, and just generally good fresh food, when eating out.
In contrast, we have decided that Australia does better bread and small rice crackers, and I would add that they also offer vegan chocolate biscuits. It was a surprise to realise that Brits don't know about lamingtons or fairy bread, and I feel for the majority of the population who have never had Thai food as I know it (thanks to its proximity to Thailand, Australia does Thai so well).
Crisps manage to be an everyday food item here (for many at least), and I don't know why Australia hasn't cottoned on to the benefits of varied, fresh, ready made sandwiches and associated meal deals.
3. Living without a car.
Of course, this isn't a characteristic of the UK and there are many even in London who do drive. For us, though, it has been 12 months without a car of our own (we have hired one for a few trips). Considering we had a car each in Australia, and drove somewhere most days of the week, this is a huge shift.
As a result of this point, we are using our bikes a lot more. I like this part of the change and we are more environmentally friendly now. At the same time, I will confess to missing the convenience of loading a car up with items for a day out, or with shopping to bring home.
The London public transport network also deserves note as a serious benefit of living in the city. Except when it is rush hour or very hot, when it is still a benefit, but kind of feels like a punishment.
|Anglesey Abbey gardens, Cambridgeshire|
4. Living with less space.
Again, this isn't a characteristic of England necessarily, although on average houses and gardens are smaller here than in Australia. In London that is particularly true, and in the move we have effectively lost a bedroom, a bathroom, a fair bit of storage, and outdoor space for bikes, cars and hanging out washing.
We have some things in storage, so I'm not sure I'm a stellar example of downsizing. However, we are living with much less than we did before and it is surprisingly manageable, most of the time.
5. Not being near the sea.
I was never a big beach person, so it has been surprising to notice this part of our move. However, when you grow up somewhere on the coast, the ocean becomes a familiar backdrop and it is odd not having it there. I do miss it on occasion.
|Anglesey Abbey, Cambridgeshire (they don't have problems with storage)|
6. Different trees and greenery.
This should be an obvious one, but it struck me recently that it's been a year since I've seen a gum tree. It is odd! Trees, woods and green spaces are so different here, and whilst I love the scenery and don't wish to leave it, it's another point of difference that at times seems strange.
The frequency of large city parks is a huge plus in London and something I really value in the city.
It is currently light at 5am and stays so until nearly 10pm. Even on the days it isn't warm, it feels like summer. Spring was characterised by flowers and blue skies, and autumn by gorgeous leaves. In winter, the days were short, Christmas lights dominated the streets, and I got to run in falling snow. I now like all of the seasons, in their own way, and love the clear signs that come with each.
8. Better newspapers and TV (and better ads).
This, of course, is subjective. However, in Western Australia there was just one weekday newspaper (The West Australian) and a handful of weekend choices. I rarely read much of them. Here, there is variety and as a consequence, scope to match your interests and preferences to the paper you read. I now look forward to the weekend paper, even if it takes me a week to get through it.
TV is even more subjective, but there are certainly more programmes I like, although I do miss Elementary (it is on pay TV here) and wish they would make Game of Thrones free to air too. Particular UK loves? Would I Like To You; Silent Witness; Location, Location, Location (and anything with Kirsty and Phil); Homes Under the Hammer (we had it in Australia, but usually old episodes); and various dramas, including Grantchester and Babylon.
|Anglesey Abbey gardens, Cambridgeshire|
So there we have it - some of the differences, although of course not all of them. We have no desire to leave them at this stage, and I look forward to seeing what year two (and beyond!) in the UK will bring us.
What are the things you notice or miss when you are away from home?