What We Miss About England

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Caveman and I met in a Starbucks in England. I was shy, green apron clad behind the counter. He was loud American in a red North Face jacket waiting in the clamoring line trailing out the door. We spent the budding three years of our relationship in Harrogate, arguably the most beautiful town in the northern part of the country. We met a lot of amazing people, learned to understand the Yorkshire clip, enjoyed the serious goodness of authentic fish and chips, rode the train a lot, and took advantage of cheap airfare to other parts of the globe. It’s been nine years since we returned stateside (I can’t believe it!), but that season of immersion in the UK left a tattoo of living smaller on our souls. So today I’ll share a tribute to England; keep reading for what we miss about living there.

Friends

I don’t think it’s a cop-out to say first of all that we miss the friends we made in England. After all, social interactions comprise much of a person’s opinion of a new place. Quality friendships can make the difference between ‘I love this place!” and “Can I go home now?”

After all, social interactions comprise much of a person’s opinion of a new place.

One of our favorite memories includes one snowy New Year’s Eve, several good friends and a bottle of champagne in a park near our home. It doesn’t snow often in the UK, so we celebrated by grabbing Caveman’s brand new cookie sheets and using them as sleds (or sledges) down a small hill. 

We found the English to be genuine, caring, fun-loving people and attentive hosts. We loved their classic dry humor and timeless appreciation for  proper. So here’s my shout-out to each and every one of you who made that season such a glowing memory. Thank you for befriending us and continuing to enrich our lives! (Here’s something fun: if we met in England, leave a comment below as an international high five. 🙂

Pub Culture

 It didn’t take us long to appreciate the UK’s “pub culture.” Colorado mountains can be quite isolating. While that may be a reason why people move here, we loved the pace change of frequent gathering in a public place simply to enjoy friends’ company. We laughed, enjoyed each others’ stories, drank and played a lot of billiards.

Of course, the collective nature of pub culture doesn’t have to take place in a predictable low lit bar. We loved the way everyone congregated on the strays (city parks) to soak up the rays when the sun shone bright. We gathered in backyards. My friends and I would drink cup after cup after cup of tea as an excuse to chat and linger.

 Eating out at restaurants is another difference in social climate. Europe, in general, values the experience of enjoying a meal with friends without being rushed. Dinners out are appreciated. People dress up. People order both wine and dessert. People remain for hours and must ask for the check instead of the black envelope materializing on the table 45 minutes after arriving. (By the way, I am aware that the elasticity of European dining isn’t necessarily definitive of English pub culture, but it is something we miss about Europe overall, so this was the best place to mention it.) 😉

Location & Public Transit

One of the greatest advantages of living in England was the location. The UK is a super spring board to Europe and many other wonderful places around the globe. On weekends my family and I explored England’s treasures—crumbling abbey ruins, picturesque villages, yawning cathedrals. Longer trips allowed us to experience much of the larger continent and more exotic countries. Once Caveman and I found £1 flights via a discount airline to Rome and spent a week studying literature in the ancient city, which was pretty much all kinds of awesome.

The UK’s public transit system made it really easy to travel. I know that many US cities have well-establish public transit, but Colorado’s small towns are not included in that club. Our idea of great public transportation is carpooling to the slopes in a friend’s Suburban. So maybe we were just really easy to please, but my family was impressed. I took the train to college every day and the bus when I missed the train. In London, the tube is just plain the most efficient way to travel. For the most part, we found mass transportation punctual, easy to use and generally safe as long as you kept your head about you.

I must add that the oldest and most reliable form of public transit was also our favorite mode of travel in Harrogate: good ‘ol walking. We lived close enough to walk to the town centre, church, and even the local ASDA store.

The hours we spent plodding damp streets blessed us in more ways than one. They gave us time to think and process. They helped to keep us slim and healthy. They forced life to slow down just a little bit, and I know we soaked up precious memories as we slowly passed familiar sights on our daily walks.

Well there you go, the three things we miss most about living in England. (I’m really sorry that got so long. I can’t seem to write shorter posts!)

Have you visited or lived in England? What do you love about the country? Comment below and share with us! 🙂

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18 Comments
  • Sara
    June 23, 2014

    We also have a place that is dear to our hearts and that we often think we would love to return to. We were just discussing this yesterday in fact, and decided that it is very likely that we have put it up on a pedestal. If we were ever to return, it would not be the same as it once was. For one, we now have children as do all of our friends. The social life just wouldn’t be the same. The spur-of-the-moment get togethers wouldn’t happen like they once did. The public transportation there was awesome, but I’m not sure I would chose it over the car now that I have 3 little ones. However, I know that I would chose to bike more places if we were still there, since everything was closer. We’ll always cherish our memories there, but it would never be the same even if we did return.

    • Evelyn
      June 23, 2014

      Thanks for your great thoughts, Sara! You’re so right. Caveman and I have talked about if we’d want to live in England again. Although we loved it, we both agree that we wouldn’t want to do it again. (We have that t-shirt!) I think one of the best things about memories is that although they truly can’t repeated, no one can take away the good times. The same is true for right now. We are sure that we are right where we need to be, but you ask me a few years after we move if I want to go back. You and I both already know the answer! 😉 Love you friend!

  • Cathryn
    June 23, 2014

    As an English person who was born and grew up in Yorkshire I really enjoyed getting your perspective on life here. Thanks for sharing this :).

    • Evelyn
      June 23, 2014

      Thanks Cathryn. I realized that I forgot to add this: that the area is just. plain. gorgeous! 🙂 We have such wonderful memories at Brimham rocks!

  • Erin
    June 23, 2014

    Evelyn, I couldn’t have said it better. The beautiful country side, the amazing conversations over a pint, the endless cups of tea (and scones)…there is so much I miss about England. I spent a lot of time in Oxford and to this day, there is still nothing that compares to an Evensong service at Christ Church, or a long walk circling the meadow on Addison’s Walk at Magdalen College. It is such a sacred place to my soul…love sharing that with you friend!

    • Evelyn
      June 23, 2014

      Hi Erin! Thanks so much for chipping in your two cents. 🙂 Oxford is gorgeous too, and I love sharing one of our special places with YOU as well. Miss you friend!

  • SarahW
    June 23, 2014

    As always, LOVED your post! I have some sacred memories from the trip that Meredith B and I made out there to visit you and your family! I love how those years shaped you into the woman you are today. My favorite memory was when we played billiards in a pub on the way home from that place with the majestic rocks (what was it called?), and ate DELICIOUS fish and chips. Yummy!

    • Evelyn
      June 23, 2014

      Sweet, sweet memories, Sarah! 🙂 (It was Brimham Rocks.)

  • olive
    June 23, 2014

    Hi,
    I had so much fun with you all I can’t believe it been 9 years were has the time gone

    • Evelyn
      June 23, 2014

      At least we still get to see each other each year. I’m just about a quarter of the way through my mammoth bag of 1,500 tea bags… 😉 Congrats on the new baby, Olive!

  • Joy @ Joyfully Green
    June 23, 2014

    Ooh, I’m such an anglophile that I really loved this post, Evelyn! It’s been many years since I visited London but I still remember the super-clean, super-quiet, no-smell subways, which impressed me, coming from New York City at the time! I would love to live in England for 3 years–glad you had the chance to do it!

    • Evelyn
      June 23, 2014

      Hi Joy! I haven’t been to NYC yet, so I really had nothing to compare the tube to… 😉 Thanks for saying hi!

  • Júlia
    June 24, 2014

    Hi,
    I’ve spent a year in Manchester which is, well, not quite the most beautiful city in the North 😀 , nevertheless it was an amazing year. (I was volunteering.) Coming from (and living ever since in) Hungary, my perspective is somewhat different: I was amazed for example how I could vote on the local elections without any proof of my identity (other than claiming it). That might be in line with their “timeless appreciation for proper”–as someone from the former Eastern block, I was stunned by the general notion of “people won’t cheat, why would they”.

    Oh, and those greens, parks, gardens… *a happy sigh*

    • Evelyn
      June 24, 2014

      Hi Julia,
      I love your unique angle! I went to Hungary for a week while I lived in England and I thought the experience so amazing. What a neat country! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • Cheryl I
    July 28, 2015

    I ache for England! Having only spent a total of a month there over two visits over a decade ago I STILL ache for England! I fell hard in love with everything about it (okay maybe not the weather). I want to bring my family there on vacation so my husband can finally understand why I want to live there 🙂

    • Evelyn
      July 28, 2015

      🙂 There’s so much to love!!

  • Laura J. Tong
    October 13, 2015

    Wow! Thank you so much for such a wonderful round of applause for the UK Evelyn. We too love all of those things as English-ites and are so pleased that you loved your time here. Come back and drink endless tea with us so we can properly in person. 🙂

    • Evelyn
      October 13, 2015

      Oh how nice does THAT sound!? Would love to. Thanks for commenting, Laura. 🙂

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