One of my favorite cities on the planet will be hosting the world at the upcoming Olympic Games. There’s a lot to love about London, like the art and the culture and the tea (oh, the tea). But those aren’t the things I miss on a day-to-day basis. I’m talking about the weird (to me) and wonderful little distinctly-British quirks that I discovered in my time there.
Ok, all other cities cover your ears. London, I heart you the most. And here’s why:
Red telephone booths: We all have cell phones (excuse me, mobiles) now. There’s almost never a reason to pop into a phone booth and pick up that ancient receiver. But I have fond memories of closing the world out and punching in the endless string of numbers from my calling card, finally out of earshot of my flat mates. I needed the comfort of hearing a familiar voice on the other end of the phone, and I found a little bit of home in a distinctly British landmark.
Sitting in the front seat on the top of a double-decker bus: So, double-decker buses are awesome by themselves, but when you can snag the coveted front seat on the top level, your day just got a whole lot better. Sitting there makes you feel like you’re gliding, high above street level. It’s a bird’s eye view of the city streets, all for a few quid. Significantly cheaper than a spin around the London Eye.
Pre-made egg and cress sandwiches: One word–Yum. I know they sound kind of gross (being a pre-made/packaged sandwich and all) but they were so good. And watercress is not an ingredient usually found in pre-packaged sandwiches over here in the States. Actually, I’m not sure I’d be brave enough to try a pre-made sandwich here. The idea brings to mind visions of gas stations and questionable sell-by dates.
Pub culture: By “pub culture” I mean congregating with friends and having a pint. It’s a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere where kids are welcome and the objective is to have a good time, not get wasted. Sure, there are all kinds of pubs (trendy pubs, local joints, tourist-y hangouts), but I’m talking about the little place down the street from your flat; the place you walk into and know that one of your friends will already be there. And if not, you know it won’t be long until one stops in.
Year-round Cadbury Crème Eggs: It’s been too long since my last trip to the UK, but when I was there, the Brits seem to take for granted their unfettered access to the-best-chocolate-treat-ever-invented. And why shouldn’t they? They could stroll to a corner store on a random Wednesday in October and buy as many of those delicious eggs as they wanted. Sure, you could say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, and that we appreciate them more because they’re only available here for a short time, blah blah blah. Nope. Sorry. Having Cadbury Crème Eggs available for consumption at any time is one of the things I miss most about London. Forget the royals; that fake-egg-yolk-colored fondant is my favorite British institution.
Scones: A scone, a scone, my country for a proper scone. I’ve never found a scone over here that’s the perfect combination of crumbly, raisin-y goodness. There’s a line where they cross from being too dry to too cake-like. It’s a delicate balance, and if anyone has found a decent alternative without having to hop a plane across the pond, please give me the details.
What are your fave British treats or traditions?
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