Wednesday, January 31

great great british things

sally tagged enid and enid tagged abu dhabbling. stephen’s post in response made enid think about the things she misses when she’s living abroad. (annette’s post just made enid jealous.)

stephen said “the smell of the plants.” well, enid supposes that’s more an abu dhabi thing. all that sand must get a bit much after a while, not even wet enough to make sandcastles. we get greenery in molvania, when it’s not covered in snow that is. (see later)

stephen said “fish and chips”. for sure. enid and the man once had 6 hours in gatwick before their onward flight. what to do with 6 hours of britain? they hired a car, drove to the seaside, walked along the beach and then found a café with a view of the pier and ordered fish and chips. result. (enid and the man have one of those fundamental differences over chips, that really they both should have considered hard before they got married. the sad truth is, the man likes gravy on his chips. meat gravy, with fish. sorry, but there it is - enid has married a culinary philistine. everyone knows it should be curry sauce.)

stephen said “country pubs by rivers on summer nights”. well, yes, of course. one of the best things ever about britain - those long summer nights combined with a bit of good weather. to make it perfect you should add old friends, the sort you can really relax with. for those of you who haven’t visited britain recently, the good weather not as rare as it used to be. global warming has its upside... perhaps.

frost, stephen? like the green smell thing, this is not a thing enid misses. if you had 30 cm of snow on your window sill, you’d not be missing it much either. enid chose today’s photo just for you - it was taken a couple of days ago.

ok, so what else does enid miss then?

(one) when you live abroad, you get used to everyone around you speaking foreign. there’s your language, the one for you and the man, and then there’s the other one (especially if it’s russian, but even if it’s french, which enid does speak.) and then you fly home, and you’re sitting on the tube, and the person sitting next to you speaks to the person opposite... in english. and that part of your brain which has been used to not understanding a bleeding word of what’s going on pops up a little alert, saying “english person! english person! that person beside you is english!” and then you have to tell your brain to stop being so silly, because you’re in central london, and of course everyone’s english (mostly).

this reminds enid of her father’s 65th birthday. it was soon after she and the man had returned to the uk from living in tokyo for two years. they took her parents to france on a day trip, and had lunch in a nice restaurant. when the man wanted some water, he turned and called to the waiter in japanese: “sumimasen!” the waiter was a little taken aback; this wasn’t what english people usually did in boulogne-sur-mer.

(two) enid misses banter. banter in the pub, banter in the newsagent and on the bus. nice, moany, british banter with an ironic edge. she likes it that shop assistants aren’t too smarmy (like the us) or rude (france). she likes it that they leave you alone for just the right amount of time, instead of rushing up saying “my name’s morticia, how can i help you?” (us) or painting their nails and sneering when you clearly want to buy something (france).

(three) enid misses british fonts. the signs in britain are a nice helvetica, clear, large - on the downside perhaps a bit shouty. the us is too fond of serif fonts, which combined with its odd penchant for degrees fahrenheit and measurements in feet and inches, makes it seem a bit stuffy and old fashioned. french signs have a really odd font, and the letters are just that bit too small for the size of the sign, leaving too much white (or rather, blue or green) space. and molvania uses cyrillic, of course, which is just plain perverse. remind enid to bang on about the invention of cyrillic, and for that matter, katakana, sometime.

other expats, what odd things do you miss about home?


Beccy said...

I guess I'm not to far from home and (unfortunately) most things British have found their way over to Ireland but I really really miss fish and chips. Reading your post has made me realise I didn't get any last weekend when I was over there. You'd have thought that living on a small island the Irish would know how to serve up a decent bag of fish and chips. Some places can manage ok chips but never have the fish, it is either smoked or frozen and always gross. By the way the best way to eat chips is with lashings of salt and vinegar leave the gravy or curry sance off!!!

Antony said...

Being as I'm British, living in England, I originally felt a little redundant and unable to contribute to this post. However, not one to miss an opportunity I've decided to mirror your post about the things I miss most about my Fav holiday destination...France, specifically the riveria but in fact, the
specific locality within France is, well... irrelevant!

That okay?

France...I really miss not being able to wander into a boulongerie in the morning to buy croissants that are still warm and taste butery. The fact that they contain sufficient butter that to add additional Lurpak would be simply futile! And if you're really lucky, they'll send you away with a caffeine shot to help clear your hangover! Or better still a 25CL bottle of beer to postpone it!

Antony said...

Ohhh I almost forgot, "Fish and Chips" with gravy or curry sauce is purely time dependant. Or putting it another way is dependant on how much booze one has consumed! So you see, it's simple... Fish, chips and gravy in the early evening or Fish, Chips and curry sauce at kicking out time!


Billy & MrsF said...

Enid I am now up to speed with Hank, & as we have a hank of our own can relate to your predicament. He has what we call the merdus touch.

Having been in France for 10 years I cannot think of anything we miss in paricular. My son who was born here says misses the Dandy and my three daughters miss Top Gear. I am sure there must be something else but it doesn't spring to mind.

robyn said...

Hello, Robyn here!
After living away from the UK for almost 10 years now.. I miss being able to drive to see my family and friends. I miss being on the west coast of Scotland: walking along a sandy beach in the rain has such a unique charm .. particularly if you can see the misty green of distant hills in front of you and the sea is frothing up a storm of galloping horses. I miss going to the pub and sitting curled up on wooden benches. I miss walking back from the pub wth a greasy bag of chips (adorned with 'salt en sauce .. the Edinburgh way!). And, finally, I miss waking up the morning after to stumble through to the kitchen to have a decent cup of tea with buttered toast and the promise of a lazy day ahead.

That said, I'm happy where I am mate and would miss France if I was back home! (though, Enid, bits of me do miss swimming underwater in the Med. and listening to the stones rumble against the shore).

Little_Miss_Moi said...

Dear enid. I do miss a lot about Australia. But really, I just miss summer. I haven't had one since the start of 2006. Coffee? Yes!

Wendz said...

I miss the earthy smell of Africa.I miss the intense, long hot summers. Swimming pools and sitting around them, barbecuing with friends, drinking cold white wine...lazing all afternoon and just rolling into the pool to cool down.

I miss Mrs HS Balls chutney, and Pro-nutro for breakfast and biltong. I miss my fave breakfast radio show, The Rude Awakening.

So much I miss.

Wendz said...

Oh you wanted odd things.

The honky birds. There are these huge birds that fly over in the morning and they honk loudly like mad - very irritating when you're trying to sleep or even talk on the phone...but sometimes I hear them when I call my Mom and I get a real tug.

ChrisB said...

I have just enjoyed reading about the things you miss. Gravy on chips well each to his own taste but for me uugh no way!!

Little_Miss_Moi said...

Dear enid. I really love your weather feed. You must be a bit more web-tastic than I am. You'll tear me away from wunderground before you know it. From LMM

enid said...

beccy, enid has a lot of respect for you, but you're certainly wrong about the chip thing. vinegar! no way, just makes the chips soggy. really, enid hesitates to admit it, but she's a bit of a fan of the belgian method - bit of mayo to dip them in. but this is a british blog and she didn't say that! so a nice curry sauce on the side, please.

antony, you're allowed to miss france, if you must. enid (whisper it) does too sometimes. she misses the food most too, and all the little conversations with shopkeepers about what's good today. you can download top gear from the interweb, you know.

hi robyn, so nice to welcome you here, i'd missed keeping in touch. what sort of sauce is scottish sauce? if you don't enlighten her, enid will suspect it's melted mars bars. another francophile too! we will have to start ff - francophiles fanonymous. hello, i'm enid, and i like croissants and pink wine. ooo, i think there's a posting there.

little miss moi, if you miss summer now, wait till april - you've another 3 months of snow ahead of you. i'll try to email you about that coffee. perhaps we can do it after work, then we'd be allowed a shot of brandy to warm us up!

wendz, enid's never heard of half the things you miss. you'll have to enlighten us about africa on your blog. the honky birds sound like a monty python kind of thing.

chris, a soul mate. gravy and chips, what a northern abomination! curry, of course, is entirely reasonable.

little miss moi 2: thanks! although everyone's whinging about blogger, enid thinks it's quite good these days, and easy to install these add-ons. kind of gives away that molvania = ukraine and kernib = kiev though, if she hadn't done so already.

elena jane said...

not an expat anymore, but when we were in england in the late 90s, i missed peanut butter, graham crackers and ice tea! once we moved back to the usa, i miss english tea (wonderfully strong), fish and chips and good chocolate!

fish and chips with gravy or ketchup, oops!

*visiting via mscellania*

enid said...

hello elena jane and welcome to enid's blog. it's true, we don't just miss home, we also miss bits of homes we made elsewhere in the world. enid misses japanese food, french food shops and malaysian beaches!

Little_Miss_Moi said...

Dear enid. This is my third comment on this now older post. But, I thought of your words when I logged onto and saw, to my horror, that they have redesigned the page - with lots of SERIF headings (in bright blue, no less), sometimes even in bold. And lots of black, bold SERIF break-out quotes.

This is a step backwards for Timesonline and for UK online news in general. But what do you expect from the Murdoch Empire?

enid said...

what is the world coming to, little miss moi?

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