Julie Andrews was into ‘raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens,’ but here are a few of my favourite things about the UK.
1/ English Men – I know there are nice men in every country and ethnic group, but in my humble opinion, based on a very small sample size I have to say, English men are the best. The experience I’ve had is that they are far more tuned to their girlfriend/wives’ happiness (and pleasure!). I love the way English men are so able to physically express their love for their woman without a shred of embarassment. Every day I see young men, old men, ugly men, fit men holding their woman’s hand or walking arm in arm. My Englishman was even keen to guide me across the Parisian roads with a gentle hand in the small of the back. Chivalric. Nice. I may be a feminist from way back but I love it when my man shows he cares and that he’s just a little bit protective of little old me! In the Antipodes the best we can ask for in a man is that they wake us before the loving begins!!!
2/Cheese – we have great cheese in NZ (Kikorangi, Aorangi…), and the Tasmanian’s make some gorgeous blue, but here the cheese is just brilliant and what’s more you don’t just get English cheese, but cheese from the Continent too. I know now why the madcap Monty Python crew made The Cheese Sketch.
3/The Countryside – ‘Oh to be in England now that April’s here…. I studied English Literature and many an English poet who was in love with his nation’s countryside, but I didn’t really appreciate before that England is truly beautiful. Coming from New Zealand I smugly assumed that we have the corner on scenery. From the dense verdant greens of the spring leaves on the trees to the almost irredescent blues of the bluebells in the summer and the crystalline fragility of a deep winter frost, the seasons deliver their miracles. It’s Autumn now and the falling leaves are a glorious blanket of gold, the vines are turning flame red on the old brick cottages and the animals (from squirrel to badger) are preparing themselves for winter. The land may not be studded with cragg y mountains, or the deep turquoise rivers or golden sands of my homeland but the country lanes are just so chocolate-box-lid pretty and full of wildlife! Just this morning as we were doing our run through the wood a squirrel ran out in front of us and darted up a tree. Last week a fox stopped in the middle of the lane and sized us up. The English have done a great job of preserving their countryside – long may it last!
4/Bridleways and Public Footpaths – if you have legs – two or four – you can get from one end of this country to the other! Amazing. So many times the paths lead through meadows and past animals grazing happily to a little 17th Century pub out in the wop-wops! There’s even a celebrated coast-to-coast path in the North that takes you over hill and dale, and moor and down. A walker’s dream come true. The New Forest is truly spectacular as are the North York moors, and of course it goes without saying, the Lake District.
5/Books, and magazines – I’m still trying to get my head around the huge choice of reading material here. Books are cheap to buy and there are decent magazines that appreciate that women have brains as well as bums and tits! Red magazine and Psychologies are brilliant. You can buy your copy, snuggle into a sofa with a cofee and enjoy articles written by acclaimed writers like Tony Parsons, or Adele Parks or countless others. Ah bliss. The newspapers have fantastic columnists like India Knight and Jeremy Clarkson too. Is it any wonder I don’t get anything done I’m stuck indoors reading all the time!
Of course there are more wonderful things about this ancient land that I’m starting to really enjoy that I’ll blog about later on. But does this mean that I’m starting to put down roots?