Somebody mentioned to me a while ago that they would struggle to relocate abroad for any amount of time as after even the shortest of periods, they’d be missing home and wanting to return. I must admit, I’ve always been somewhat the same when going on holiday for 1 or 2 weeks at a time. I’m quite a homebird, and there comes a point doesn’t there, when you’ve done what you came to do, you’ve had the experience, welcomed the change of scenery and are now looking forward to returning home and everything that is comfortable and familiar.
I think the longest I ever spent outside the ‘north of England’ prior to moving to Canada was when I was at University in Sheffield – and maybe even that doesn’t really class as being outside what can only be regarded as the ‘true north’ 😉
Well, it’s been nearly 12 months since we boarded a plane and set off for our adventure overseas. Canada has not only delivered, but exceeded our expectations. The time has absolutely flown and with it, there have been new experiences, different opportunities and a huge variety of people and places which have been welcoming and positively embracing. I’m loving it. It’s a gorgeous part of the world in which to live.
In the next month, we get a return flight to the UK to visit friends and family just for a brief period. By the time we return to Edmonton, it will no doubt be revelling in the delights of sub-zero temperatures and covered in 3ft of snow.
Rather like the project management and organisation that I imagine is going into the 2016 Rio Olympics, our visit to the UK is no different and commands the same level of detail and meticulous logistical planning. You won’t be surprised to hear that a detailed timetable, spreadsheet and visitation log has been established in order to navigate ourselves the length and breadth of the UK, seeing as many family and friends as possible, savouring the delights of food we’ve missed from our culinary table, and procuring essential items that just cannot be replicated over this side of the pond.
So, after 12 months abroad, apart from friends and family, what have we missed the most? Well, I can tell you with absolute clarity, it’s the little things. It’s the things you would least expect and if you’d asked me the same question prior to us moving to Canada, would not have featured remotely in my expectations of life over here. That’s not to say there’s gaping holes. Canada provides the majority and indeed in a lot of cases, there’s a whole chunk of new and different stuff that has enhanced our life over here, what we do, what we eat and what we see. But there’s no getting away from it. It’s the little things. Here are my top 10 …
- I love food, and my first stop in the UK will be to a chippy. Yes, a proper chippy. One that does chips ‘n’ gravy, with curry sauce, steak & kidney puddings, and mushy peas. I’m drooling just at the thought. Don’t get me wrong, Canadians attempt to construct ‘fish and chips’ but it’s just not the same and doesn’t taste anywhere near as good.
- Now don’t get me started on the topic of pies. I’ve had to make my own or buy them from my fellow British ex-pats just to satisfy the urge. Any type of savoury pie, I’m not fussy. But a pie. With gravy ……. Mmmmm.
- Talking of which ….. Bisto. Bisto gravy granules – sheer innovation. Unknown on this continent for the ability to serve it with anything remotely edible. A truly flexible product that even UK ‘southerners’ have never maximised to it’s full potential. I’m from the north-west of England, it’s in our DNA, and I’m a gravy connoisseur. I’ve nothing else to add.
- Biscuits. Yum. Hobnobs. Custard creams. Gingernuts. Al the ones you can dunk readily in a brew
- Earl grey tea. Probably the one item I’ve missed the most in terms of taste to the extent that my mother has been sending me regular shipments just to keep me functioning with any degree of proficiency. You may have been able to detect through my blogs when resources have been short and supplies limited….
- Colman’s english mustard. Other interpretations are readily available but none as good or taste the same. It’s something that just fails to be adequately replicated. Perfect with steak and chips.
- Moving onto other essential items. The BBC is an institution that cannot be matched. By comparison, Canadian TV is poor in quality and whilst we’ve been able to keep up with our favourite UK programmes, I’m looking forward to being able to watch the BBC on a TV, start to finish, without the spooling data icon appearing on screen as we struggle with the data downloads. If I’m lucky, I may be able to get in several episodes of ‘Strictly’…..
- Pubs. Now there’s another British institution. Readily found on most street corners and in which I’ll be found upon our visit home …
As with any list, there is a necessity to have 10 items in a list. It’s the rules. Just has to be done – and I’m struggling after 8. Sat next to me on the sofa whilst I tap away is my husband, strumming on his ukulele (no, that’s not a euphemism), and reading ‘Ukulele for Dummies’ (never has there been a book more aptly named). He has gamely volunteered the last 2 on the list:
9. Imperial Leather soap. Unavailable in Canada, and no other soap will do (according to the usual complaint I receive when attempting to find a Canadian replacement).
10. And finally …. germaline. ????? I haven’t asked.
I’m guessing for the Brits reading this week’s blog, they’ll be nodding in recognition and amusement at the items I’ve missed most about Blighty over the past year. For those from other countries who won’t have a clue what these are, put them on your list so that if you ever take a trip to England, you can seek them out. You won’t regret it – just send me your thanks and appreciation for such insight at a later date 🙂
In the meantime, the flights are booked and arrangements are being made. You have been warned. Watch out UK. We’re coming back – for 10 nights only, to a town near you ……. 🙂