I’ve been in the UK for a few days now, catching up with family and friends before heading to Paris late next week for Roland Garros.
I lived in the UK for a few years in the late 90s and have spent a reasonable amount of time here since. Every time I come back, I always appreciate the same things.
Although some of these things are relatively minor details and aren’t likely to be the same things that stand out to tennis players who are visiting London for Wimbledon, here’s my list of some of the things I appreciate during a stay in the UK.
If you’re an Australian who has been to the UK you’ll probably relate and if you’re from the UK and planning to visit Australia, this will help you know what to expect.
1. The accents
Australia is a huge country and although there are variations between the accents of people who live in the country, the city and different states, generally speaking Aussie accents are pretty similar.
But in England, you drive an hour on the motorway and the English accent is completely different. The trained ear can tell whether you’re from Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Birmingham, Leicester or a certain part of London based on how you speak.
I think that’s kinda cool.
2. The special offers that really are special
In Australia if something is on special at the supermarket you can be lucky enough to “save 3 cents” and there are masses of shop-a-docket type offers where if you spend a certain amount at the supermarket you can save 4 cents per litre on petrol. Wow – that can add up to about $2 off a whole tank full.
Can’t go past those kind of offers.
Well, actually, I can.
One of my favourite non-enticing signs promoting a special offer at our local Melbourne supermarket says “Don’t pay $10 for a roast chicken” and underneath they advertise the price of $9.88.
Needless to say I’m not in a rush to save that 12 cents.
In the UK the specials really are special and the savings are significant. My favourite is “3 for 2”, where you pay for 2 and get a 3rd one for free.
3. Boots and Zara
Boots is a pharmacy type chain and Zara is a clothes shop.
My love of Boots relates to the special offers mentioned above, but it’s also because the type of products that Boots sells are way way cheaper here than in Aus. And the Boots Advantage Card gives offers that make it worthwhile being in their loyalty program.
Zara is one of my favourite stores. I was so happy when it opened in Melbourne last year but for whatever reason I have never bought anything at Zara in Melbourne, whereas I’ve been in the UK for 2 days and have already made purchases.
4. Being reminded which way to look when crossing the road
This is particularly great for those who come from a country where cars drive on the other side of the road like they do in Europe, especially when you’re jet lagged and not really paying attention when you’re crossing the street. If your natural inclination is to look to right, being reminded to Look Left can save you being knocked over by a bus.
5. Signs on the motorway that show how far the next petrol station is
In the UK there regular signs on the motorway that show how many miles it is to the next Services and to the Services further on.
I really like this because in Australia you’ll probably get a sign when a Petrol Station is a few kilometres away but if you decide not to stop you just have to hope for the best that will be another petrol station sometime before you need it. This is not a great system because Australia has some pretty long stretches of road with no service stations.
6. The Sunday roast at the pub
I grew up having a lamb roast pretty much every weekend and I love catching up with people for Sunday roast lunch at a UK pub.
7. The places you can go
There is so much to do within the UK but I also love how easy it is to get to other countries. Within an hour or two on a plane, and sometimes for only a few pounds, you can get to another country.
And how great is Eurostar?
You get on a train from London and a few hours later you’re in the centre of Paris or somewhere equally great, without having to worry about the time or expense of getting to airports at either end of the journey.
This is a non tennis related list so I haven’t mentioned Wimbledon, which is one of the things I appreciate the most, but stay tuned for lots more articles on Wimby soon.
Until next time
Grand Slam Gal