Hello Dear Reader,
Happy St. George's Day. I love England and I love being English. If you don't live here, this is what you are missing. Afternoon Tea. It doesn't happen every day (unless you live in Downton Abbey) and you make the effort to serve it to friends, guests and vicars.
I love the NHS. Tax is collected straight from our wages and pays for everyone's healthcare. Rich or poor, no matter who you are, you get excellent healthcare.
We're part of an island nation. We're one of four countries who rub along quite well. Our shores have attracted people from all over the world and they make England a colourful place. Our island is beautiful and a short walk can reveal a whole new vista.
Paddling. Every child will remember mooching around the shoreline, with a net and a bucket full of curiosity. Scooping shells out of the water and taking them home as souvenirs.
A 99! A swirly ice cream with a Cadbury's flake. Even better is a hand scooped butter yellow ice cream, made with clotted cream. As a child, I didn't get one. I made do with a 'plain cornet' which was a scoop of ice cream on a cone. To this day a '99' is a massive indulgence and they are lovely. Best eaten after a walk on Plymouth Hoe or around Looe harbour on a summer's evening.
Rugby. Sorry, just don't 'get' football. I spent two years living in Bath and fell in love with the sport, can smell the Deep Heat and can feel the ground rumble as if I were there right now. Not just for the big clubs, but the school children who train after school and the local clubs that fund raise at the weekend. It's a thrilling sport to watch and thank you Plymouth Albion for many an afternoon of great entertainment.
The village fete! I might have to explain what this is. Usually run by the church or local pub. It raises money for the Brownies, Guides, village school, Scouts, Play Group and Old Folk's social Club. There will be stalls selling plants, cakes, jumble. There will be a brass band. There will be competitions, from wheel barrow races, welly boot throwing to tug of war. There might well be evening entertainment and a barbecue. In our village there was a floral dance around the streets, a fancy dress competition and a lot of beer.
Agricultural shows and ploughing matches. Again, I might have to explain these. Throughout the summer, areas all over England have local shows where farmers come to show their animals. There is usually an equestrian event, or a gymkhana for the children, a dog show for pets, there will be sheep dog demonstrations and animals of every description. A ploughing match is an autumnal show where traditional skills are on show and people compete. My grandad used to lay hedges as a boy and only ever did so annually at his local ploughing match. Some farmers still keep shires out of tradition, still plough with them (if only the odd acre) to keep the skill alive and pass it on. The horses are groomed, decorated with brasses and bells and their presence can take me back to the moment grandad lifted me up to stroke one.
Laughter. English people laugh a lot. We have a very caustic sense of humour and don't take life too seriously. We can and do laugh it off. Our workplaces are good humoured and ring with laughter. You can have a laugh with a total stranger in a supermarket. Pubs are full of laughter. Hospitals are a great place to have a laugh. It's how we deal with things. We tell jokes at funerals. Trains will be late and strangers will share a laugh on the platform. We are self deprecating and don't take ourselves too seriously. Who ever you are, we'll have a laugh at you too.
I could happily ramble on all night. We are a lovely little country and happily part of the UK. Now it's your turn. If you live in England, what do you love about it? I didn't even mention the food.
Love Froogs xxxx