Cornwall, Southwest England
I've been battling a bit of homesickness since we returned from our trip to the States last month (coupled with, paradoxically, a bit of wanderlust). So in an effort to cure these afflictions, I thought it would be appropriate to include a post about the things I love about my adopted country, a bit like the post I recently wrote about what I love about North Carolina. So here goes (in no particular order):
1. London. I don't love everything about London, mind you, but it's hard not to love a city of such mythic status -- and with so much to see and do. As Samuel Johnson famously said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life."
2. Tea. Nothing can compare to a good cuppa. No matter how hard I have tried, I have not managed to replicate the experience anywhere else, even with the same brand of tea. Whether it's the water, or the type of cows they rear for milk here, or whatever... the Brits sure know how to do tea.
3. A good curry. Curry houses are to the UK what Mexican restaurants are to the US (or to the South, at least). I was never a big fan until I started visiting England regularly, but now a good curry is a favorite indulgence of mine. I still miss my Mexican fix (there are a few good Mexican restaurants in London, but they're few and far between), but I'm happy to substitute that with a chicken tikka masala, sag aloo and cauliflower bhaji. Oh, and fish and chips. And a good fry-up. Okay, maybe I should just call this reason "food" (although I'll pass on blood pudding and haggis and the like).
4. Pubs. I have yet to come across a bar in the US with the same vibe as a British pub. It's hard to explain, but the pub is an institution which crosses age groups, classes, and genders. And a good pub is hard to find.
5. Cornwall. This is where The Other Half and I took our first holiday together, way back in 2003, and it will forever hold a special place in my heart. (I don't blame you if you gag on that cliche, by the way). Aside from London, images of the rugged Cornish coast and little fishing villages and country pubs are what spring to mind when I think of England.
6. Quaint villages. Especially with thatched cottages. And cosy pubs with log fires. Do you see a running theme here?
7. Public transportation. This is actually sort of a love-hate relationship, but I do like the fact that I haven't depended on a car for almost four years now.
8. The NHS. This may seem like an odd addition, and many people may disagree, but I am so thankful for national health care. I know it's not a perfect system, but at least I can be assured that if I need medical attention, I will receive it. And I won't go bankrupt in the process.
9. History. Everywhere you turn in this country, there is a piece of history to uncover. Castles, ancient ruins... even the church up the road from us is over 900 years old. And, as an old friend-of-a-friend once said, England has beer that is older than America.
10. Having the rest of Europe on my doorstep. Need I say more?