It’s easy to find fault in something that is different, unusual or odd and there certainly were lots of “Oddities In England” when we moved here but there are also an equal amount of pure gems that have made the experience so much better.
When we left Australia we were lucky to get post a few days a week and delivery times for anything ordered from anywhere couldn’t necessarily be counted on. Just one example of the massive difference in postage services here is the wrist blood pressure monitor I ordered yesterday (free postage) around 6pm, and by lunch time today it was delivered to my door. When I think back to our Covid Christmas when our eldest daughter Lauren was still here, it seems insane that our Amazon and Etsy happy daughter had the post man or courier knocking at our door several times a day, Monday to Sunday.
The weather has started to turn here and we are moving out of the record heat wave we had during summer and deep diving into the bitter cold of Autumn. This brings with it the rainy drizzly weather, overcast skies and short days that make it easy to stay snuggled up inside on the couch. What we see though are people dressed up in wellies and coats, out walking their dog or taking a walk with friends or family despite the weather. This means you can see and enjoy the ever changing seasons we are blessed have here in England.
Right To Roam
The added beauty of living in the Garden of England is this incredible “right to roam” rule they have here. This right to roam or otherwise known as “freedom to roam” allows for people to access places like mountains, moors and downs without needing to use regular footpaths. Though ironically these are often indicated by “footpath” signs and come with an expectation of respecting the land owners property. This includes ensuring that dogs are on leads if animals are roaming, and often you will see signs, markers and well worn path that you should keep to.
Greggs Sausage Rolls
Sausage rolls seem like like no big deal overall (okay except for 7-Eleven sausage rolls at the servo), but here in England it seems to be iconic. Greggs is a bakery type store that sells pastries, yum yums and lunch items at quite affordable prices – Mackenzie is a fan of the steak bakes but Lauren loves the vegetarian sausage rolls. The bizzarre thing is that sausage rolls can often be found cold just on a shelf and not in a fridge or hot box. Most recently in the past few years Greggs sausage rolls have become famous due to well known LadBaby and their hit Christmas songs all about sausage rolls. Usually I would find it cringe-worthy but they used their platform to raise money for a very worthy charity.
Proximity To Europe
When you are in Australia everywhere seems an eternity away and lets be honest, it is – its a whopping 22+ hours to get from there to here and you can travel by car for hourse and still be in the same state. The most incredible thing about being here in England is the ability to jump on a plane and being in another country in just an hour or two – in fact Malta was just 4 hours and Pisa was just 2 hours. We also are able to get on a ferry and drive to the Netherlands for lunch. In 2019 we did just this spending a weekend visiting the Christmas markets in Bruge and will do this again in December this year. The world really is your oyster here!
Australia and England have a great mixture of both public and private schools and our children have experienced both in Australia. The differences here is that going into high school meant that instead of being one of around 2 thousand high school students, Mackenzie has benefited from a much smaller P-13 school. It took a while for us to really understand the system here and although I dont completely understand the grading system, we do understand more about the system in general. Mackenzie goes to a religious public school that has a balanced approach to teaching about belief systems from many faiths and this has given her a broad understanding from where she can make her own choices about her faith. It was a pleasant surprise to hear the only cost implication for us was the uniforms and excursions with all resources being provided free of charge, and the uniforms – she looks very formal and more like what we would see in private schools in Australia.
History & Architecture
Although Australia is countless years old, I am sad to say that our education in school regarding our indigenous history was quite dismal and not reflective of the importance of our countries heritage. In relation to our colonised history of little more than 200 years, it pales in comparison to England. England is an old country filled with so much history and stories, and it is this history that its people hold close and are committed to sharing with the future generations. Along with this history comes architecture that has us in awe and it feels very much like we are in the middle of fairy tales at times. When we first moved here it amazed us to have lunch in a pub from the 1300’s – I’m not sure our councils in Australia would approve buildings with centuries old wooden beams to remain open to the public.
Public transport can be a challenge at the best of times and when I reflect on my days of commuting to and working in Brisbane City I am reminded of the waits between trains to get around, and I won’t even mention the time it took to commute outside the city. London however seems to have this sorted and at any time there is a train going somewhere and if not there are buses everywhere you look. The underground is particularly wonderful not just because the time between trains on the underground are minimal or the fact that the underground trains are particularly fast. It is incredible because of the history – you can feel it as you walk down the tunnels to the platforms and as you feel the eerie whoosh of air right before the train comes.
Australia for the most part is not known for snow and to be fair neither is Kent, in fact when there is even a whisper of a snow forecast here everyone loses their mind! We have managed to get snow a few times since we arrived here in 2018 and the most fun to have is a snowball fight with your family – cold and wet, but fun all the same. I think about when we took Lauren to the airport to fly home to Australia, it absolutely bucketed snow so much that when we stopped at the services we had a massive snowball fight in the car park. Beautiful memories and I have everything crossed for decent snow this winter.
Long Summer Days
The northern hemisphere has alot to offer in the summer time including reasonable warmth and long days. The long days are by far my favourite for a few reasons, not least is that even on days I am working we still have plenty of sunshine left to go out and do things as a family. Long summer days sees some places open well into the evening, plenty of outdoor activities like festivals and fairs, and families all out enjoying time together. This is by far the best time to explore the UK as a visitor because you’ll have plenty of daylight hours for travel and exploring, and we have utilised this season as expats to get as much out of our time here as possible.
I would love to hear about your favourite English gems!