Holiday Road: Five Things I Miss About the UK

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:

1. Cheese

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.

Mmmmmmmm. Heaven.

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.

3. Good TV

Following on from point 2, the UK is able to use the world’s best interface to showcase, in my opinion, the world’s best television. I do love being on the right side of the world to get my favourite TV shows as soon as they air, but it doesn’t make up for everything British that I’m not watching. I regularly tell anyone who will listen that I would willingly pay for an international television license just to be able to access good quality BBC programming, but in the absence of this I use the Firefox plug-in ‘Stealthy’ to watch The Apprentice and other unmissable shows. I watched the reality-drama ‘Our Army’ this week and it’s just one show that I’ll definitely be cracking open the laptop to watch when I’m back across the pond.

Is there any better television anywhere in the world?

4. High Street Fashion

I’m no fashion expert, but I’m pretty sure that there’s no other country in the world with such a range of affordable high street stores. And I’m not just talking Primark. Vancouverites are limited to the (somewhat bland) likes of H&M, Gap and Zara whereas Brits are blessed with River Island, New Look, Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Republic, Oasis and more. Those of you who are particularly eagle-eyed will know that the largest international Topshop Topman has just this week opened in Downtown Vancouver, however the prices tend to be inflated much more than the exchange rate justifies. I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to Vancouver’s clothes prices and choice, and much prefer braving the UK’s January sales instead.

5. Bar-clubs. Blubs?

Vancouver’s nightlife is one of extremes, and is notoriously casual when it comes to a night in the pub. I took two pairs of heels with me when I first moved and I’ve worn them a total of three times altogether: once in Seattle, once in Vegas, and once a couple of weeks ago on a long awaited girl’s night out in Vancouver. That’s not to say that everyone wears jeans. Far from it; Granville Street on a Friday night bears more than a passing resemblance to Blackpool with its mix of neon lights and mini-skirts. The part I miss is what should be in the middle. It might just be that I don’t know Vancouver as well yet, but there just aren’t as many bar-clubs. You know, the ones that you pay a token amount to get into (if anything), you can sit down and have a reasonably priced drink at, but also get up for a turn on the dance floor to indie/cheesy music if you like? It’s not my personal favourite, but a well-known UK chain that best illustrates this concept might be Vodka Revolution. More of these in Vancouver would make for infinitely better nights out. Please, thank you.

That’s my list, but what about you? Is there anything you’d add to the list?

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About MarmitetoMaple

I'm originally from the UK and have been working and living the dream in Vancouver, BC, since January 2011. I am a firm believer in travel, good cheese, volunteering and community engagement.

14 responses to “Holiday Road: Five Things I Miss About the UK”

  1. Jude says :

    Interesting read! I agree with you on the cheese but to be honest I’ve found that if I shop in Walmart, the prices aren’t that extortionate….Like you say though, it’s probably a good thing to do without cheese except on special occasions!

    In terms of TV, we are with Telus and I’ve found it great so far – easy to record shows and the “On demand” is fantastic, I’d honestly say it’s comparable with Sky. And it terms of good TV… I much prefer it over here! To be fair I didn’t really watch many UK shows back in the UK, so I don’t miss them. I watch stuff like Modern Family, The Middle, The Wire, Breaking Bad, United States of Tara… and Netflix is so much better here too!

    Fashion… I found over the last few years in the UK, quality had gone way down and prices way up. I personally find River Island, Dorothy Perkins etc a rip off for the quality :/ I did love Marks & Sparks though! That’s the only store I really miss though…. over here I find American Eagle, Aeropostale, Roots, Bluenotes….and yes even Walmart! meet my needs. Although fashion is definitely different here, more relaxed and casual.

    The longer I’m in Canada, the less I miss from the UK….gotta say though I do miss marrowfat peas (??) Can only seem to get garden-style peas here!
    And vaseline lip balms…..although there are plenty of alternatives!

    Sorry for the super long comment ;p

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hi Jude, thanks for the comment!

      It is always great to hear how other ex-pats find the differences here, and your comment has given me hope that in time I’ll get used to all of these things in time. The TV and the clothes are the main two things I just can’t see myself coming round to any time soon, but my fingers are very much crossed!!

  2. Louise says :

    I would add Tesco for sure and anything Heinz, and I absolutely agree with cheese…I miss cheese!
    Love your blog 🙂

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Absolutely! I actually had a dream earlier this year that I was found a Tesco in Canada. I went straight for the pork pies, sausage rolls, and of course the cheese!

      Thanks for the comment, so glad you find the blog useful, I hope you like my upcoming post about things I missed about Vancouver…!

  3. laura says :

    I hope to move to Vancouver next year! Nervous but excited reading your blog makes things easier, Im going on my own hope to meet some lovely people. i love cheese so that will hard to get use too! This a great blog 🙂

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hi Laura, thanks for the comment! Great decision on moving to Vancouver, you won’t regret it and will definitely meet so many other people 🙂 Definitely eat a lot of cheese before you come! 🙂

  4. Catherine says :

    I’ve been in the Fraser Valley for 10 years now and I agree on all points 🙂
    Also, it would be great to be able to buy wine in the Supermarket at the same time as groceries….
    I love BC though, and wouldn’t be without the mountains!!

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Hi Catherine, thanks for the comment! I totally agree, being able to buy wine in supermarkets would make everything so much easier. I even find it strange how liquor stores only sell liquor, not even mixers or snacks! I’m glad that you’re enjoying your time in BC, here’s to the mountains!

  5. Emma says :

    For me, it’s Tea and Chocolate (how stereotypically British am I) – I know you can get both here in Canada, but it’s not the same. I miss chocolate made from Cocoa and Sugar not Corn Syrup!

    It’s not all bad though, I LOVE the buzz of the patios here in the summer (kinda like Beer Gardens in the UK), only better!

    We also have the prospect of some “proper snow” which I’m REALLY excited about.

    Headed back to the UK for Christmas, any requests?

    • marmitetomaple says :

      Good choices! I’m not a tea person…bit of a rubbish Brit! I’m also heading back for Christmas, I’ll be stocking up on mini cheddars, Galaxy and lots and lots of gossip magazines. I can’t wait!

  6. Jenny says :

    You what you cannot get in Canada… I did not realised I would miss it but Orange Squash/Cordial …..or any Squash/Cordial at all for that matter !! All we can find it this weird power stuff a bit like that vitamin c stuff you mix with water and hold your nose while drinking !! Visiting England during Christmas and may try to bring some back ! Double strength to last longer of course!

    I agree with the TV situation…Bell after all is owned by Mr. Branson is it not!? Surely it could be more Virgin Media like??? I like you would pay for a UK TV licence if it meant I could chill in front of one of my fave shows from back home, and more so when I am missing home and just want to here a British accent other than my own !!!

    Although I have found a few websites that help….its not like on demand when TV shows are readily available to watch ! I did not think it would bother me this much…but in winters 40 below I mind…I mind a lot ! Ha

    Great reading your story !

    • marmitetomaple says :

      I know, the squash/cordial is now probably the biggest thing I miss! We use the weird frozen cool aid but it’s just not the same at all. I’ve never had enough spare weight in my suitcase to bring some back from the UK, but maybe next time!

      Glad you agree with the TV, though I don’t think Richard Branson has anything to do with Bell Media unfortunately. I’ve been using some websites too, which isn’t the same but at least I can watch The Apprentice UK!!!

      • Jenny says :

        Yeah I heard Richard Branson owns part of Bell…oh well.

        I am quite happy that I get to watch Britannia got talent and Russell Howard’s good news lol

  7. Jenny says :

    Britains not Britannia haha

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