Homesickness (or 8 things I occasionally miss about Britain)

I get asked whether I feel homesick quite a lot, and I think people tend to be surprised when I say that on the whole I don’t. The fact is that – love the UK though I do – it’s my family and friends that I miss more than anything, and if they were all transported over here, I’d probably asking ‘where’s Britain?’ within a matter of months.

That said, it’s probably only natural that our thoughts gravitate to the place where we’re from. Whether it’s Elk River in Minnesota or Craiova in Romania, there’s an invisible thread that inextricably attaches our hearts to the places from which we hail. That’s admittedly unfortunate if you’re from Liverpool, but it simply can’t be helped.

As a result there are always times when expats feel a little more homesick than usual. And usually for the most inexplicable reasons. Realise that you’re doing any two of these things and you’re probably missing home a bit.

Find yourself doing all eight, and it’s time to switch on BBC America, crack open a can of London Pride and sit with a knotted Union Jack hanky on your head for an evening.

1. You spend thirty minutes in bed one night trying to explain the joys of curling to your nearest and dearest. And protest loudly when she says “that’s not a sport, that’s just a spoof that somebody has made up to make fun of the Scottish.”

2. You find yourself daydreaming about eating pork pies, and go as far as to look up local stockists via Google. You don’t even like pork pies.

3. You realise that you’ve been away from home so long that you don’t recognise any of the presenters of Blue Peter. Worse still, you can’t even remember the theme tune.

4. You hear somebody saying that something is “on the DL”, and you automatically assume that they’re talking about the District Line.

5. You spend the whole of Wednesday afternoon avoiding Twitter and Facebook, so that you can sit at home that evening watching the UK version of The Apprentice without knowing who Sirallun has fired.

6. You’re reminded of British summers, by heavy rain in April. And you smile as a result.

7. You see a New York subway map, and pine for an Underground map that makes no sense whatsoever if you’re walking above ground. After all, tourists are meant to get lost.

8. You use up an hour of your precious weekend surfing Amazon’s UK site to make sure that you’re not missing anything new. And end up buying three DVDs. Of American TV shows.

Still when I’m at my most homesick, Britain goes and starts making a fuss about someone like Susan Boyle, and I start to feel better. Yes, I know she’s got a great voice, but having the appearance of someone who has been dragged through a hedge backwards doth not 12 million hits on YouTube make. Now she’s on all the morning shows in America, and you can’t open a newspaper without reading about her.

Britain, you’ve got a lot to answer for.

18 thoughts on “Homesickness (or 8 things I occasionally miss about Britain)

  1. Stella Jones

    Dylan, go to my Blog and listen to Home Thoughts from Abroad in my Playlist. It will take you back. We have to get these feelings out otherwise they eat you up.

    Pork pies, yep and sausage rolls and bacon and salad cream and Advocaat and tasty tomatoes.

    Oh well, we have other things here I suppose.

    Blessings, Star

  2. Sven

    Ah, I know the feelings well. The number of e-mails I have sent to people asking them to ‘record this or that and send it to me on disk’ is laughable. I’ll never be able to watch it all. And listening to BBC Radio online. How did we live without podcasts?

    Don’t start me on the vegemite/marmite issue, the paucity of pasty shops, or the proper taste of mayonnaise. Who has sweet mayo?

  3. LB

    I felt exactly the same way – never really homesick, just missed friends and family… And then a year ago I started a job where I didn’t get to travel back to the UK regualarly. In fact, I haven’t been back in more than a year. And I got horribly homesick over Christmas, it was miserable. But anyway….

    You’re right – Susan Jones and all the Jade Goody stuff make me realise the UK isn’t that much more sane than the US, at least not all the time.

  4. Josephine

    There’s lots I miss about England, and it seems the older I get, the worse I get homesick….
    I tend to leave the tele on, BBC America, even if I’m not watching, but just to listen to the accents, whilst I’m working.
    I tend to watch old Last of the Summer Wine episodes, every evening, come rain or shine, and savour every last drop of their Yorkshire accents, the scenery in itself is enough to make you homesick.
    Wouldn’t it be lovely to just hop onto a train, and visit more often ?

  5. the gaffer

    The only thing I really miss is having a proper local pub – bars just dont do it for me. Oh, and malt bread – I’d kill for malt bread. And proper sausages. And Boxing Day. And wiltshire dry-cured bacon. And ……..OK,OK, there are lots of things I miss!

  6. Silverback

    Enjoying the best of both worlds as I do, I guess I don’t get homesick at all as I know I’ll be ‘home’ soon enough. Of course I miss people, places and food items from time to time and bacon/sausages are top of my particular list.

    As for Susan Boyle, it’s her very ‘dragged thru a hedge’ look combined with that voice that endears her to us here….we do love an underdog after all and she is a classic reminder that we live in a looks orientated world. I can’t wait for her to do a duet with Paul Potts – it’ll probably crash the YouTube server !

  7. Cocktails

    I don’t really get homesick either. Sure, I miss family and friends but not the country per se.

    Except when it comes to vegemite – you should try a vegemite and cheese sandwich Dylan, and Sven, I think you’ll find that vegemite is vastly superior to marmite 😉

  8. Dylan

    Sven – sweet mayo?? What is this abomination you speak of?!

    William T – many apologies on the surallun front. My misspelling was undoubtedly caused by the pain in my hand after I punched my fist through the computer monitor after the aforementioned Amstrad guru again failed to fire that arrogant git from Sandhurst.

    the gaffer – thanks for the comment, and I couldn’t agree more about the lack of a local. Especially when it comes to summer, and you want nothing more than to sit in a pub garden drinking a pint.

    Stella – is advocaat a British-only thing?! Who knew??

    LB – Christmas is tough, it’s true. But that’s still about missing friends and family for me. The Queen’s Christmas message I can do without…

    Josephine – Last of the Summer Wine? Come on, however homesick you are, you have to draw the line somewhere. And that line is just before Compo and Nora Batty.

    Silverback – you probably have the best of both worlds, to be fair. Just make sure you don’t blog about your enjoyment of a bacon butty any time soon, OK?

    Cocktails – a cheese and marmite/vegemite sandwich? Why would you even think of such a thing, let alone eat it?

  9. Expat Mum

    I’m addicted to Mistresses, which is also On Demand, so I can watch it without fear of the kids walking in. Partly because it’s filmed in Bristol where I went to uni, and partly because I pretty much watch anything with English accents. Oh, and it’s good too!

  10. Iota

    I like a drizzly grey day, cold but not too cold, when everyone else is complaining. It just feels like proper weather to me.

  11. Pingback: 8 Things a British Ex-pat Might Miss About Britain | Anglotopia

  12. Andrew

    You forgot “You watch television shows that you would never have dreamed of watching when you lived in Britain, just because they’re British.”

    Thankfully, I’m growing out of that one.

  13. Trixie Trouble in Blighty

    If it makes you feel better:

    1) I don’t really know what Curling is.

    2) I haven’t eaten a pork pie since about 1980.

    3) I wouldn’t recognise a Blue Peter presenter post . . about 1980.

    4)The District Line should be avoided at all cost.

    5) I have never seen The Apprentice.

    6) I was just in NYC earlier this week and suffered the torrential downpours. Here it was sunny.

    7) Yes the Tube map, I’ll give you that.

    8) Amazon is addictive anywhere in the world

    And finally, I found out about this Susan Boyle woman from a bunch of middle aged women in Philadelphia! I’d never heard of her.

    Actually I’m begining to wonder if I am really here .. ..

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