Attention! Diamond jubilee fever is officially over after reaching its ultimate peak with the Queen’s birthday yesterday. Stores have spent the last two weeks frantically stocking up on emergency supplies. 364 miles of bunting has been snapped up at Sainsbury’s and Asda has ordered in a massive 2.8 million Victoria sponge cakes to supply the demand of the masses. Symptoms include irresistible urges to spend money on useless memorabilia (3100 jubilee garden gnomes have already skipped out the door at B&Q) and an insatiable appetite for lawn parties serving spreads of Pimms, scones and sandwiches.
As the UK has just finished their patriotic, jubilee jubilation, I invite you to join me in lying back and thinking fondly of England.
1) Won’t you have some tea?
Not only our nation’s favourite drink but the answer to all life’s woes. Long day at the office? Have a cup of tea and a sit down. Fight with your boyfriend? Don’t move, I’ll put the kettle on. Zombie invasion? Righto, let’s have a cuppa and get the Hobnobs out. From builder’s tea to posh and perfumed Earl Grey, you’re not truly friends with someone in England until you know how they take their brew.
2) David Attenborough, we salute you!
A national treasure and everyone’s dream celebrity dad, Sir David has been narrating my hangovers for many a year. His pioneering glimpses into the natural world and dulcet, comforting tones have been known to hypnotise audiences of all ages, all over the UK. Who cares if parts of the recent Frozen Planet series faced complaints when viewers discovered a polar bear birth was in fact not filmed in deepest darkest Arctic conditions but actually in a German zoo? We would still have forgiven Sir David were we to find out the entire polar bear family actually consisted of men in furry suits. Roll on his next exciting release.
3) The Home of Topshop
O Topshop, how we love to worship at your altar! The label epitomises English fashion – absolutely eclectic. With Kate Moss flying the UK fashion flag, encouraging us all with a smack of her red Rimmel lips to ‘Get the London look’, Philip Green’s bid for world domination is fast becoming reality as his brand has gone global. For all Toppers fanatics out there, a pilgrimage to the Oxford Street flagship store is an absolute must. Although good luck to you and get the elbows out if you brave the weekend crowds.
4) Olde Worlde Pubs
One thing I can guarantee to UK visitors – you’re never far from a good pub. This is handy because as far as we’re concerned, if there was ever a situation that a cup of tea can’t fix, a stiff drink down the pub is sure to sort it out. For all visitors, a Sunday pub roast dinner is a tradition worth sampling, whether you luck out and enjoy it under blue skies in a beer garden or in front of a cosy fire.
5) British Humour
Ironic, dry and self deprecating. One thing I always miss on my travels is the British sense of humour. Taking the piss out of ourselves and each other is our way to break the ice, secure some praise, flirt, banter and pass the time. We may well be criticised for burying our feelings and emotions under a fat load of sarcasm but we have a bloody good time doing it.
6) I dream of strawberries and cream
Anyone visiting England during the summer months should try this quintessentially English dessert. Countless parks and farms offer strawberry picking opportunities at the right time of year. Avon Valley Country Park in the South West provides me with charming and faintly sepia-toned memories of childhood days spent scrabbling around in the dirt trying to find bigger, juicier specimens than my sister. One for the bag and three for me! Then pleading with mum to pull over so we could be sick in a lay-by on the drive home… Ah, those golden childhood memories.
7) Talking about the weather
British weather will never be its strongest selling point. Mostly overcast with intermittent ‘days of all seasons’ that in turn leaves you feeling over-dressed and over-heated; or shivering through your shirtsleeves as you brandish your fist at the heavens. We might well feel short-changed by our weather but boy, do we love talking about it; predicting it; and most of all moaning about it. It’s a favourite national pastime. Bring up the weather and you’ll find it easy to start a conversation in England anytime, anywhere and with anyone you meet.
8 ) Culture Vultures
Without a doubt one of the great appeals of England is the rich tapestry of history and culture it drapes itself under. World class museums and galleries stand aside beautiful stately homes, churches and cathedrals. There are famous monuments catering to all tastes… Shudder at the grisly tales entrenched in the Tower of London; marvel at the mysterious rocks of Stonehenge; luxuriate in the hot springs and natural spa at the Roman Baths; be entertained by a play at Shakespeare’s revamped Globe theatre in Stratford-on-Avon; and if none of the above selection floats your boat, get thee to Bristol to admire the thriving street art scene, pop-up galleries and original Banksy material dotted around the city. Plus, the quaint streets of Exeter allegedly provided the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley… If that doesn’t give this country some magic, I don’t know what does.
9) The music scene
Imagine a world without incredible and inspiring music, a world where all there is to listen to are pop-tastic, plastics prancing around to auto-tuned vocals on MTV… Can’t imagine it? Neither can the British. Brit music is made up of amazing bands and artists as eclectic as our fashion world. Real and exciting music from a wealth of modern talent such as Adele, Bloc Party and Florence and the Machine stand aside classic acts like the Rolling Stones and The Kinks. And of course one of the most successful and famous bands of all time originated right here in Liverpool… The Beatles.
10) The Royal family
God save them, the royals are having their moment. The past couple of years have seen the Queen throw off her stuffy image and come into her own as the country’s newest It Girl with her suddenly fashionable colour-blocking suits and handbag sized Corgis. Of course, the event that made the royals cool again was last year’s wedding of the decade between the nation’s sweethearts Kate and Wills. Even Pippa Middleton’s bottom achieved celebrity status as she sashayed down the aisle behind her sister. Plus we are so much enjoying the added days off work they have recently been giving us. A toast to her majesty! Long live the Queen!
Alex Saint is a writer based in Bristol, England – a place she calls home due to its friendly, diverse atmosphere and never-ending list of fun things to do. She loves tattoos, quirky fashion, pugs and, of course, travelling.
Image 1 via Cupcake Cavern, image 2 via Eat Drink Pretty, image 3 via The Sun, image 4 via The Beginning of Loft in Soho, image 5 via Gourmet Baking, image 6 via Candyfloss, image 7 via Religious Intelligence , image 8 via My Opera & image 9 via LDN Fashion.
*guest post written by Alex SaintTweet