Tuesday, 31 July 2012

On being British...

Since the Jubilee & now the Olympic opening celebrations, I've been musing on what it is to be British. We're a funny lot. The English, in particular, have real difficulty in expressing pride in our country...we cover it up with jokes & grumbles about the weather and our general uselessness. It just doesn't seem to come naturally to us, the desire to celebrate our heritage or our present and future wonderfulness. Hopefully, this year, we are learning a little!

My Dad was an immigrant in the 1950's....born in the vast, hot, colourful continent of Africa, to South African parents, he came to the cold, dull greyness of post-war England at it's worst. And fell in love. In common with most who have chosen a life here, rather than been born to it, he is so proud of his adopted country and sees all the wonderful things about it. He's fiercely patriotic (and now naturalised to prove it!)

I've always loved the speech that Hugh Grant (as Prime Minister) gives in the press conference with the US president in 'Love Actually'...it brings a lump to my throat because it cuts to the heart of the achievements & attributes of this great nation. And there are many!
Tea, for instance. Nobody does it better than us. And if it's served in a 'Berylware' teacup like this one, then so much the better!

Cider - real, unfizzy, refreshing, hand-pressed Somerset cider. This is the pear version ( Perry) Gorgeous! 
Marmite....love it or hate it, there's no inbetween. I love it - and this quirky celebration packaging is just so....US!!
Beaches. We have sandy ones too, of course. But my particular love is for the shingled 'difficult' ones, surrounded by high cliffs (if those cliffs are white then so much the better!) The sea should be grey & slightly angry for total authenticity...

with rockpools. Full of tiny crabs, periwinkle shells, limpets and fringed with seaweed. To be waded in with wellington boots by small children with wind whipped legs on holiday...

Beautiful bays...surrounded by sea, as this small island is, there are plenty of these...

Green....green everywhere. Verdant fields, jewelled hedges.....the thing I don't realise that I miss when I'm abroad until it hits me again with it's gorgeousness on my return. So much green....
Churches...to me, nothing is more beautiful than our ancient places of worship....from the huge cathedrals & minsters to the smallest country chapel....

Country houses...especially Georgian ones. Beautiful beautiful beautiful....
Our woods and ancient trees.in every season, but particularly in their Autumn glory....


Swans...all belonging to Her Majesty...just that fact makes them so, so British!

National celebrations...particularly Royal ones. No one, in my opinion, betters us in the Pomp & Circumstance stakes!

Our comedy...quirky, often vulgar & quite unique...from the Carry On movies, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers & Steptoe through to Blackadder, The Office & Gavin and Stacey...it may not be for everyone, but it's uniquely & unmistakeably OURS
Wild things - beautiful fragile orchids, hedgehogs, foxes, badgers, red kites & red breasted robins...buttercups, daffodils, jenny wrens & wood-pigeons....

& brave little butterflies, so often battered by the wind and rain...

So, these are some things that are very British...but I still haven't really explained what it feels like....perhaps it's too difficult to define...or perhaps it was summed up neatly by our brave, quirky, eclectic, eccentric brilliant Olympic Opening Ceremony?
It's Chariots of Fire, David Beckham's smile, Mary Poppins, cricket on the green, The Beatles, poor Amy Winehouse, James Bond, Tom Daley, green fields, grey smokestacks, rain, Sir Steve Redgrave & our beloved Queen....actually acting!
Whatever it is....I'm prouder than ever to be English right now.

A huge welcome to new followers of my blog....and the faithful older ones! I hope my recent posting problems are now resolved...I've missed you so much! Look out for a giveaway very soon to celebrate my return!
Happy Tuesday xoxo