Having only been here two weeks (officially arrived two weeks ago today) it’s impossible not to make constant comparisons between my birth (now home) country and the country I grew up in. It’s easy to be a South African sitting in South Africa constantly moaning about the state of the country and how green the grass is on the other side of mud island, once you’re here it’s a whole other ball game – even better than you can imagine!
There are ups and there are downs, as with anything in life. Right now, I’m missing my husband and my girls so much that I forget to stop and smell the roses so to speak. I forget just how amazing this country truly is and don’t put much thought into the day to day differences that suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks today. I thought I’d list a few of them, home truths, dreams that have become my reality and give you insight into every day life here in jolly old.
Public transport works.
It’s an amazing thing this ‘public transport’. All races, religions, ages and creeds use public transport in the UK – From the average cross country trains and the London Underground to buses and cabs, there is an option for all wage brackets. That said, you pay for public transport to work… I travel from Crowthorne to Wokingham, Wokingham to Virginia Water and Virginia Water to Chertsey every day (Morning and evening), that trip costs me £16 a day (or £260 for a monthly season ticket) – that’s a big chunk of change out of my salary, I assure you – AND that’s without even touching London central. Sure, cars here are well affordable and you get to pump your own gas but those costs add up just as quickly and we won’t even discuss traffic on the M25 or lack of parking in London. Did I mention that there are no taxi’s? Oh, also, there are no taxi’s!
Self service and laziness.
The Brits are just as lazy as they are independent. Here, you have to ‘pump your own gas’ and yet you can get food, beer and cigarettes delivered to your door (just about anything actually) at any time of the day or night. Sure, you can make use of the self service check out at Tesco’s but because you’re spoiled for choice, we will put 4 hair dressers on one short street. Why not? It’s rather confusing and complicated to get used to… I’m getting there slowly :)
Wow, no offense to anyone but there are a lot. Or maybe it’s just that you see them because their bodies are younger than they are thanks to this amazing climate and they get themselves out and about into the world?! The reality is that I don’t think the pensions are nearly enough to keep them comfortably going… Or, out in the sticks, they’re so bored all they want to do is be around people. At my local Sainsburys, the trolley collector (yes, it’s a job) is about 90 in the shade and yet takes those trolleys back to their houses every day with a smile on his face… Either that or the 88 year old cashier caught his eye. It’s cute, all these really old people, I’m gonna live for ages!
A different era
Perhaps it’s just where we live or where I work or maybe we went into Camden on a rough day but I’m pretty certain that most of England thinks they’re living in the 30’s, 40’s or 50’s – not that I’m complaining at all – only with earphones. The men, well, there are three types. Rough and tough, bearded, tattooed and Doors looking regulars. Metrosexuals with a comb over, brown pointy toes shoes, grey suits and an upside down newspaper. Lastly, the ‘chav’, grey tracksuit pants, high tops and quite probably a pony tail – they like to say ‘Blood’ a lot. Anyone else is foreign. The lines between fashion senses are pretty definitive. When it comes to women, there isn’t much of one style persay but as mentioned in a previous blog, camel toes are acceptable as are mustard yellow leggings, brown cardigans and purple hair (all combined). It’s safe to say, the most eclectic people get to live in England and it’s completely normal.
… Is awesome. Bland as all hell. Just the way I like it. Sure, they don’t know that a kebab is actually a pita bread and Fanta Orange is supposed to be Orange, but everything else edible is awesome! I’m just happy that I can have Ribena any time I like, I’m weird like that.
The English don’t really know what ‘work’ is, that’s why they’re so quick to hire South Africans. I get into trouble if I get in earlier than start time or leave later than finish and heaven forbid I don’t take my lunch – the concept of a lunch hour is foreign to me so it’s pretty amazing to actually eat during the day. When we are all working, my definition of busy is very different to that of a Pom. It’s refreshing really, people here understand keeping work and home separate.
I could go on and on and on… I’m not saying it’s perfect here but it’s a foreign concept to me to be ‘nice’ to your neighbors, to walk around at all hours of night in the dark safely, to smile and wave at passers by and to have a library or museum on every corner. What a cultured place to live… I know I’d fit right in, if only my people would arrive and I could get back to being my awesome self.
Guess what? I’m on a train…