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:
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.
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.
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?