You know you’re in England when…

I’ve just returned from my first trip back to the UK in almost two years, where I was lucky enough to spend two weeks with friends and family. This marked the end of my longest stint outside of England, and it was definitely a weird experience going back. Everything was the same, but different. There were so many things that I’d just plain forgotten about having been away for so long, and had a lot of ‘classic England’ moments. Below are a few of my favourite sights and experiences, those moments where you just KNOW you’re in England…

The word ‘Mate’


I didn’t realize how British the word ‘mate’ is before I left. Canadians don’t say it, unless they’re ex-pats ironically greeting each other with ‘alright, mate?’.  This was the first picture I took when I was back, of a vending machine at Heathrow. Coca-cola bottles over here say Dude on them. Yup.

30 miles an hour road sign


Looking at this picture almost made me put English villages as a category in themselves. There’s only one country in the world this photo could be taken in, and that’s before I saw the 30 mile an hour sign. I never thought of the white and red circle as particularly iconic while I was living in the UK, but now it’s a sure sign (geddit?) that I’m home.

Double-decker buses


Double-decker buses aren’t solely limited to England, but they definitely don’t exist as public transit options in Vancouver. I gave myself bonus points for this being a Park and Ride bus (another English classic) and definitely ran up the stairs to sit at the very front…

Driving on the wrong side of the road


Yes, I said wrong. After 4 years of driving on the right hand side, in an automatic, it’s a good thing that I’ve never had the need to drive in England. It would be a disaster. Navigating roads as a pedestrian was bad enough…thank goodness for the road markings in London telling me which way to look.

Pizza Express Doughballs


Definitely forgot about these. Definitely shouldn’t have.

Real, actual chips


I made a vow to not consume a single french fry when in England, and just about managed it. I particularly enjoyed these bad boys as they came with an equally delicious steak and ale pie. Canadians, take note.

Red Phone Boxes


This one has been turned into a library, which may be even cooler than its traditional use. Either way, the red phone box is another British icon.

Cold, wet train stations


Trains aren’t really a thing in Canada, unless you’re going on a luxury trip to Whistler or the Rockies, or down into the US. Whenever I go back to the UK I seem to spend more time on trains than not, and it’s usually pouring with rain. This trip was no different, and I particularly enjoyed freezing my fingers off at Amazingstoke.

Sitting on the floor of trains


As if spending so much time on trains wasn’t bad enough, I had a distinct sense of déjà vu when realizing that the baggage rack was full and I had no choice but to sit on the floor in between two carriages. Late night trains and trips to festivals meant that this was unfortunately not new to me, and I wasn’t the only one sitting there for long.



It still blows my mind how squash doesn’t exist in Canada. I made up for it by drinking gallons of the stuff whenever I could get my hands on any kind of cordial (lemonade and lime, please). Naturally, I had to throw some bourbon biscuits in for good measure.

Pimms and Lemonade


You can get Pimms in Canada, but it’s usually mixed with ginger beer and the fruit to liquid ratio just isn’t on par. This particular glass was served to me in a particularly British pub, and really was delicious.

The Tube 


I know this is specific to London and not the rest of England, but I couldn’t resist. I actually took my camera out to take this picture of an empty train at Oxford Circus as it was such a rare sight. Most of my tube experiences were hot, busy, sweaty, sticky and generally unpleasant. Oh, how I missed it.

Until next time, England…










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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.

8 responses to “You know you’re in England when…”

  1. Dan B says :

    It’s been almost 3 years since I left England now. Amazing how quick the time goes by isn’t it? I’ve told my (American) girlfriend that those red phone boxes barely exist anymore in England…in Newcastle they don’t anyway. My theory is they’ve all been shipped abroad to stand inside British pubs as a novelty item!

    Personally I miss Jaffa Cakes the most!

    Oh and in New Zealand (where I am at the mo) they don’t say mate or dude. They opt for “bro”.

  2. tastehitch says :

    We’re heading back for the first xmas in three years. So unbelievably excited by all of the things you’ve mentions.

  3. MarmitetoMaple says :

    Oh dear, ‘bro’ just sounds like something from a movie…or Neighbours. And you’re right about the red phone boxes, I was such a tourist taking pictures of them!

    My absolute favourite thing in the world is Mini Cheddars. Followed closely by Ribena…yummmmmmm. Do they at least have squash in New Zealand?!

    • Dan B says :

      There’s so much squash here that in the kitchen there are three taps: hot, cold and squash.

      Ok, not really. They do have a section dedicated to it in supermarkets though. They have Ribena squash but its ridiculously priced…I’ve also seen sparkling Ribena which I didn’t even know was a thing!

      New Zealand is basically like somebody has recreated England in a different part of the world with small, annoying differences. Like fish and chips are everywhere but nobody sells mushy peas. There’s no such thing as Heinz the brand here…its called Watties but the packaging is exactly the same. Pretty weird, bro.

      • MarmitetoMaple says :

        Well, now I’m just jealous of your squash tap. And I’ve also never heard of sparkling Ribena…maybe New Zealand is the future?! A scary future without mushy peas though…

  4. Paul says :

    Just FYI, BC Transit does use double decker buses of the same design as those used in London. I haven’t seen them in Vancouver but they are ubiquitous in Victoria where I live (I drove past two on my commute home today from downtown!).

    • MarmitetoMaple says :

      Hi Paul, thanks for the photo! I do remember going on these double decker buses between the harbour and the ferry terminal. Even looking at the picture reminds me so much of the UK! 🙂

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