After nearly 3.5 years away from my native shores, I recently returned for a 3.5 week trip. Everyone in a similar situation who I had spoken to before expressed their dislike of taking a trip back to the UK and the constant travelling round visiting family and friends, they related their blatant dislike of the country, its weather, big population, aspects of its culture and the places.
The media (doom-mongering muppets that they are) is constantly painting the UK in various shades of doom and gloom following Brexit, the various terrorist attrocities and the recent general election…so how did I find it?
Well, the following series of posts will delve in further detail but let me just say this, those of whom I spoke earlier must either visit bad places, have dubious friends and family, really dislike their homeland or just generally be miserable because I had a fantastic holiday! And as for the media…well as usual, if you look beneath the surface, you generally find that the truth is rather different.
Here is just one photograph to illustrate the delight of the UK…the history!
When you have grown up with the BBC as your staple provider of entertainment and news, you realise when you go elsewhere in the world how good the BBC seems by comparison. Impartial (in the main), balanced, no adverts etc etc.
In NZ, there are the usual smattering of news providers on different channels but to be frank, in a country of 4.5 million people there isn’t a lot of news to report. In some ways this is great! It is great that a car crash with one fatality still makes it on to the news (especially if a foreign driver is involved), it is great that a murder still outrages people, it is great that someone holding up a petrol station, while wearing a onesie, to obtain cigarettes is newsworthy…but let us also be honest, in this desensitised age, it is not very exciting either.
To fill up the allotted news time, we end up with what appear to be sponsored stories about new products, new movies etc. I also feel at times like it is painful to see who can qualify as a reporter with their dubious command of the English language.
Which brings me to my final bit of info, channel Three here in NZ has started doing an entertainment show based around the news each weeknight with a studio audience. It is called The Project (if anyone wants to look it up online) and is based on an Australian format from what I have read. When I first heard about it I remember thinking that things must’ve really got desperate on already quite poor NZ TV, but I actually think it is really good! They somehow deliver the main stories and balance having a good laugh about them where they can with the serious messages and debate/opinion. Why shouldn’t the news be entertaining instead of depressing?
At the end of the day, some serious stories take some believing sometimes anyway so why not laugh about it all…has Donald Trump REALLY been elected President? Has the UK REALLY opted to leave the European Union?
In New Zealand, there is a real culture of Do-It-Yourself. From building homes to renovating homes, the isolation of the country and a lack of nearby tradesmen in many places has probably facilitated this culture of people being more self-sufficient.
This translates onto the TV also, because after thinking about food TV last time out, it then occurred to me how many DIY shows are on TV. There are shows from NZ, Australia, Canada, USA and the UK all about this same thing. I can actually understand this a little more here in NZ because of the culture and I suppose these shows give people ideas on how they might change their abode but how many is too many?
But then I wondered something else, on one Australian show where it is as plain as day that they are shopping in Bunnings (a DIY store which I believe has just arrived in the UK), are shows like this really just a blatant sponsored attempt to get you to spend money in those places?
I have been writing this blog now for around 3.5 years. When it began, my intention was to use it mainly as a way for friends and family to keep in touch and see what I’d been up to after moving to New Zealand from the UK.
I quickly realised – perhaps unsurprisingly – that not many people you know are actually that interested in what you are doing or saying (quite sad really as you might think that friends and family would be a main audience) but yet they are happy to share and read inane content on things like Facebook. Go figure. The flip side of this, however, is that I have been delighted to discover so many other blogs which are out there on WordPress and it has been fantastic to create new connections with people who have shared interests in many different parts of the world.
I thought I would therefore share just a few of these links with you in case you wish to explore them further yourself…
Nature Has No Boss – Mike Bizeau regularly posts some truly amazing landscape and wildlife photography from around the USA, often in wilderness areas like Yellowstone.
Uthamz – Utham captures some stunning images of big game animals in Africa, amazing to see.
Through Open Lens – Lucas Kondraciuk posts a good amount of excellent bird-based photography but with a twist – there is always a light-hearted joke to go with the facts in the post to brighten your day.
Nature’s Place – Mark posts truly incredible photos of insects. If macro photography and seeing the small residents of our planet is your thing, you will love this.
Travelling the World Solo – Ellen is from Australia and travels a lot, with a particular fondness for Greenland and Scandinavian countries. Some lovely photos and experiences are there to explore.
Stephen Liddell – Stephen has possibly the most fascinatingly researched blog that I follow, he regularly posts really interesting insights into the world and its history. He is an author with a varied portfolio too.
That will do for now – hope you enjoy exploring! I will share some more in future!
Everyone learns to drive by different rules and regulations so when you move to a new country you expect differences. In NZ, where they drive on the left just like the UK, I was thinking about the cultural differences of the actual drivers themselves and how I might describe the drivers if I had just a few words…
For New Zealand, I thought of “relaxed but impatient risk-takers” because they generally drive like no-one else is on the road and just move around (they do generally indicate) into any space going but people seem so laid back about it all. They like to duck and dive and do u-turns. Very unpredictable. There is no point gesticulating to anyone because they don’t even know you are there. They do like to use their horn if you delay them for even a second.
For the UK, I thought of “aggressive but aware and polite” because there are so many cars on the roads that people generally have to be really switched on to what is around them but because of these volumes people are easily riled and like to gesticulate out of the window…which makes things worse because others see it. Use of car horn is considered impolite. People will generally flash you to let you in to traffic.
Aren’t people odd?
What summary would anyone suggest for their country or other places they have been?
I was thinking recently about the new perspective you get on life when you live elsewhere in the world.
It occurred to me that I could think of only around half a dozen friends who instigate contact with me (either by post, text or email) on a relatively regular basis – and two of these friends do not live in the UK either. I am not sure this was any different before I moved to NZ but in the UK I had regular meetings with people and was more immersed in shared experiences and life in general. The relationships were more organic. It might not seem much but when someone says “Hi, how are you?” once in a while, it can mean a lot. Everyone is busy just living their lives I guess and a one-size-fits-all approach with social media seems to be how people conduct ‘friendships’ these days which is pretty strange when you think about it.
It will be interesting to see how well I settle back in to these relationships when I return to the UK for a holiday this year. My life has changed quite a bit since I last saw these friends and perhaps theirs has not. I wonder whether a lack of interaction over time starts to render us strangers or if that just melts away naturally as some friendships are stronger than time and distance. I obviously hope that the latter is true. A lack of familiarity should make these new interactions more fulfilling and interesting though.
In some ways I think this stranger-element could also be true of family relationships but to a much lesser extent. It is interesting since being in NZ how little family seem to instigate FaceTime or similar regular interactions. I am not sure if the 11-13 hour time difference is just too tough to work out or if they think we are likely to be too busy off doing something – which is no different to living in a different place in the UK really – but you would think this would be a natural two-way street. Such is life I guess.
Does anyone have any similar experiences from extended time overseas and how have you found returning “home”?
I am not entirely sure where the phrase “Going Dutch” comes from…perhaps the Dutch were famed at some point in history for sharing the cost of meals…or maybe you had to wear orange while eating?
Anyway, I must tell you that in New Zealand, paying for meals on a shared basis is a breeze. When everyone has finished eating, you don’t ask for the bill, instead you go to the till on your way out and everyone pays for what they had individually (and generally by Debit/Credit Card).
I have never seen this in the UK, where instead you end up with the utterly ridiculous scenario of people passing the bill around the table and putting down enough cash to cover their part of the bill (and of course many don’t have the right money and so need their own bit of change)…it takes ages and is crazy by comparison.
The only downside to the NZ way, however, is that if you are last to pay and have dined with less-than-honest folk, you might get stung with a larger bill than you expected…