The time has come for me to return from Blighty to the land of my birth. I’m excited – I love green more than I love grey. I love the fresh smell of Wellington harbour more than I love the open-sewer smell of the Thames.
And I love rain that falls predominantly in winter, rather than spring, autumn, summer (save for two-three weeks a year), and winter (when it’s not cold enough to turn to snow).
But there are a number of things that worry me about my return. I suspect I’ll have more clarity on these when I actually do return, but why not be presumptuous?
I’m not a big shopper. I tend to buy one pair of jeans and live in them until I wear out the crotch (It’s not what you think, I have “solid thighs” – oh, you weren’t thinking that? Carry on). But I know that if something does go wrong, and I need clothes in a hurry, I just need to pop down to the high street and pick up good quality for a fraction of the price I’d pay in New Zealand (okay, by a fraction, I might mean 2/3rds of the price, maybe 3/4s). Or, If I really can’t face the heaving mass of humanity charging its way down Oxford Street, I can go online and buy whatever I want from the comfort of my own bed. In my pants (underwear – the English are odd). And it’ll arrive on the same day (if I’m prepared to pay). If I don’t like it, I can send them back for free.
Sure, but for a couple of items, the English don’t have much of a cuisine to write home about. After all, ex French president Jacques Chirac is reported to have quipped: “We can’t trust people who have such bad food. After Finland, it’s the country with the worst food”. And yet, London is full of excellent eateries, mostly because it’s a hub for people looking to make their fortune. Just recently, it has experienced an explosion of excellent street food and (particularly dear to my heart) has become a place where you can get a burger that would rival any I’ve had in the US or elsewhere. What’s the best burger in Wellington? Please don’t say Burger Fuel, you’ll make me cry. London has new pop-ups, concept restaurants and centres of gastronomic excellence opening on a daily basis. I’ll miss that. I’ll miss it big time.
Sure, some people might find it a little tiresome, but I love living in a country where the lead sports story is something other than rugby. They may have just substituted sports, but at least it’s football (which is infinitely more interesting than rugby). Oh, and they actually have proper analysis, and they’re so spoiled, they feel that they can complain about the fact that the pundits aren’t good enough. Oh for more than the 2 minutes on Chelsea, and the Manchesters Red and Blue that we’re treated to back home.
Relaxed public drinking laws:
They love their drink here. And they like to drink them most anywhere. Beer culture in the UK is a bit like coffee culture in Wellington – want to catch up? Go to the pub. Just been to the gym? Go to the pub. Have a spare Sunday on your hands? To the pub! But the pub isn’t enough. Brits want to be able to drink where and when they want. They drink in the street, they drink in the park and they drink on the tube (okay that one’s now technically illegal). A traveller (one for the road) isn’t even illicit here, it’s compulsory.
So while we think we’re a little bit cosmopolitan in Wellington, and compared with many parts of the country (I’m looking at you Oamaru) it is. But I’ve become accustomed to understanding less than half the conversations going on at, for instance, the gym. People speaking French, Spanish, Polish (that’s for you Daily Mail) and others that I’ve got no ability to identify are commonplace. I’ll miss that. When it comes to it, I’ll even miss the regional accents and dialects – I’m disappointed that all NZ can muster is a rolling R in the deep south, while the UK manages multiple accents within the greater London area.
Please don’t think that I’m running down Wellington (or New Zealand for that matter). I’m moving home for a reason and I have no fears that I’ll come to regret it. But with any decision comes trade-offs. Maybe if I get my whingeing out here, I won’t become insufferable when I meet you for a u on my return.
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