Today is my last full day of vacation and an apt opportunity to think about the things about the UK I’ve most enjoyed coming back to. I’ve found that it’s not until I’m back that I realize what I’ve missed, partly because I’m still in the holiday phase of loving everything about living in Vancouver. Now I’m packing my suitcase and preparing to leave it’s much easier to identify my favourite things about each place. This post will be accompanied by a second detailing what I miss about Vancouver when I’m back in the UK, but for now here are my top five things I miss about good old Blighty:
Sad, but true. Dairy products, and specifically cheese, are a lot more expensive in Vancouver (and Canada as a whole) than they are in the UK. And most other countries in the world it seems. The reason for this is a complex supply management system which uses minimum prices to protect Canadian farmers from cross-border imports. Prices are artificially high, particularly in comparison to the US and the UK. I’ve now stopped buying blocks of cheese (except on very special occasions) which, on the plus side, has got to be better for my waistline. It does however mean that cheese is one of the first things I eat when I’m back in the UK, and I just wish there weren’t laws banning me from taking it back in my suitcase.
2. Sky TV
This might be one of the little things, but it never fails to amaze me that the UK has a satellite interface that is far superior to those used in Canada/US in almost every conceivable way. I get my cable through Telus, though if I chose Shaw or Bell the results would be the same. A clunky, hard to use system that makes navigating channels and recording shows incredibly difficult. Sky on the other hand is clear, simple and impressively interactive. The idea of watching TV live from your PC or controlling almost every aspect of viewing from your iPad are no more than futuristic legends in Canada. Unfortunately, multiple providers means that one amazing system is unlikely to ever materialize in North America, so it looks like I’ll have to get used to it.
I’ve always wanted to plan one of those big surprise arrivals that makes people cry, and living in Vancouver over my Mum’s 50th birthday, my Dad’s 50th birthday and my brother’s University graduation from Oxford was the perfect opportunity to come home and try it. I’m writing this post less than 24 hours after arriving and can safely say it went well. Tears well.
I’d been thinking of coming home since this time last year, and booked my tickets in April. After opening a new bank account and credit card I had enough Avios to book a return trip to London and just pay the taxes, and this seemed like a good time to use it. It also gave me an excuse to splash out on a small upgrade to the BA version of Premium Economy which was definitely worth the extra legroom. I timed the flights to arrive on my Mum’s birthday and leave the day after my Dad’s birthday 9 days later, and let my brother know early on what I was planning. He not only did a fantastic job of keeping schtum, but also booked me a ticket for his graduation ceremony and planned a trip back home to coincide with my arrival at the airport so he could collect me on the way. I’d seen my parents just a month before when I went to visit them on vacation in San Francisco, and it was there that I broke the news to my Dad. He encouraged me to keep it a surprise for my Mum and helped me plan my trips to London, Southampton and Cambridge to see my friends.