We recently published an article on 10 things you will miss about London when you leave so we figured we should do a companion piece for people coming the other way. Trust me, there are many things you are going to miss.
1. Pies – Where the hell can I get a pie?
That was the sentence running through my mind over and over within the first week of landing in this country. Upon speaking with other kiwis I drew a blank. Some said go to the walkabout, others whispered that I could buy a Cornish pasty even though it’s not quite the same, but most just shook their heads sadly, already defeated by the knowledge that there just aren’t good pies in the UK.
I was flabbergasted. How could England, the meat and potato capital of the world, not sell steak and cheese pies? Well they do make pies, you can go get a watery, grey-coloured steak and kidney pie with lumpy mash and mushy pees in one of the old pie shops, but you will never find a pie in a pie warmer in a garage or dairy. You will never again experience the glorious feeling of biting into a pie straight out of the warmer that only cost you a few bucks.
2. Walking barefoot to the dairy
People just don’t do bare feet in the UK. I guess it could be the cold or the broken bottles, used needles or general trash that puts people off walking around barefoot, but you will never again quickly pop out to the shops with no shoes, So prepare your feet for a lifetime imprisoned by a pair of shoes.
3. Real beaches
OK the UK does actually have some amazing beaches, Cornwall and Wales are examples of some places to head to if you are missing beaches, but for those of us based in London, the closest beaches are probably in Brighton. And although Brighton is a great place to visit, the beach isn’t the best. Plus the beaches in NZ are empty!
The closest we get to a beach in London is either the dirty mud bank on the Southbank or going for a dip with the ducks at Hampstead Heath ponds.
4. A good cup of coffee
This is another one that is controversial, as you can actually find decent coffee in the UK now with many great cafes and coffee shops popping up all over. I find the rate of good coffee over here increases every year and soon it may overtake NZ as a coffee lovers destination. The problem I find is in NZ, most places you go you can find amazing coffee, whereas in the UK it’s still hit and miss.
Brunch should also be mentioned. Kiwis know how to brunch, the English are learning. Slowly.
5. Dawn chorus
This is a weird one for sure, but when I was back at the start of the year I was blown away by the sounds of the birds and of nature in general. The amount of different bird songs combined to make something beautiful is an absolute delight. And (as much of a loser as this makes me) I downloaded some NZ bird songs and wake up to this every day now and feel slightly better about having to get up and go to work because of the tui’s and kakas waking me up.
6. Kiwi attitude
This is one of the main things I miss about NZ. The attitude of people in general is completely different back home. Everyone seems a lot friendlier, more helpful and happier to talk to complete strangers than people in London. I am generalising as I am sure once you get out to the counties everyone is a lot happier and friendlier, but I was recently back in NZ for a friend’s wedding and forgot what it was like to have random conversations with the supermarket bagger or the garage attendant who actually seem genuinely interested in your life.
7. Bush walks
I really miss a good stomp around the NZ bush, it fits in nicely with the dawn chorus. The UK has some great forests and nature but there is something about walking around the NZ bush, surround by ferns and Rimu trees with the birds singing and insects buzzing that you can’t recreate over here. The sense of getting away from it all is so much easier back home and this is one thing I miss the most.
8. Fish and chips (yes, really)
This one will annoy a lot of the English I’m sure. F&C is a very popular dish over here but I have included it for two reasons. One is the price, it’s a total rip off over here compared to back home and two it is subpar in the UK. It’s oily, greasy and generally tastes like utter filth.
There are some gourmet F&C shops about that do fantastic fish and chips but the average place is not worth venturing into let alone wasting a tenner on. I don’t know if it’s our proximity to the coast, the type of fish used, the batter or all of these but I genuinely miss good F&C and the Paua fritters or donuts for a few dollars.
This one is simple, there aren’t really any mountains in the UK. Well, there are a couple but I’m talking about proper mountains with snow and ski fields and volcanoes and shit. Perhaps we are spoiled in NZ but it’s pretty easy to get to an awesome mountain and go snowboarding in winter or tramping in the summer and this is something I really miss.
Living in the UK if you are a skier or snowboarder means you have to spend a fortune to go away on a ski trip, back home it’s as simple as getting in your car and probably driving for a few hours to the closest mountain. The UK just can’t compete on this one.
10. Beer and wine
I may be a little late in highlighting this as the craft beer scene is getting bigger and bigger in the UK, but, up until recently, unless you were into Ales the beer scene was mostly based on pints of Carling or Stella. Back home it seemed like we were ahead of the curve and started creating all of these amazing Kraft beers before it really kicked off in the UK.
Same with NZ wine, you can get it here but the selection of great NZ wines back home is astounding. One wine that you hardly ever see if Pinot Gris which makes me extremely sad.
So there you have it, ten things you will probably miss once you arrive on these shores. But don’t worry, although you may miss these things, when you do get to experience them again you will realise just how lucky we are that we got to grow up and live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.