Two and a half months in Canada, a month back in the UK and now back in Canada. We’ve well and truly done an A-B test of what is the difference between life in the UK and life over here. Of course, as soon as we got back to the UK everyone began asking whether Nich and I could live over in Canada on a permanent basis. It got me thinking about what life in the UK really has been like over the last 30 years of my existence. And what it is that keeps all of my family and friends living there and never wanting to leave (in fact, for much of my vast family, never wanting to leave the city of Hull and its environs). Truth is, we still don’t know. The couple of months in Vancouver were so special that we are definitely going back for the summer and, who knows, perhaps longer.
Our little ‘holiday’ in England was rather pleasant though, but you do notice a few things that you may have been taking for granted over the years. For a start, the UK, and in particular England is absolutely rammed full of people. It really is the first thing you notice when returning from a country like Canada, which is 38 times the size of England and has just over half the population. There is less space on the pavements, the roads, in houses, shops, bars, everywhere. Driving down the M6 the day after we returned felt like driving through a car wash, the lanes were so narrow. I made it down to Nottingham and had a great weekend back there for my best friend’s stag (the wedding being the reason we’d returned from Canada) but couldn’t help noticing how rammed it was.
Next up was London which is, of course, ridiculous for crowds. There are people with their faces stuffed into other people’s armpits every morning on the tube, and you can’t walk down the street without someone walking into you. However, my northern attitude towards London has softened somewhat. I still hate the crowds but, coming back, you realise what an incredibly important and exciting place it is, which is I suppose the reason you have to queue to walk down the pavements every day.
Next stop (after a brief visit to Chelmsford) was Ipswich for the wedding. I was best man and it was my first time. I’d knocked up a speech and was getting the usual nudges and winks trying to make me nervous. It all went well though (I seem to remember). A hastily arranged performance from the band was good fun (but I assume a little terrible for the audience) and it was great to see all of our friends in the same place at the same time.
We travelled north, via a quick stop in Great Yarmouth, to Norwich to visit friends and found that we actually quite liked the place. It reminded us of our years in York and the sun was out (which always helps). So perhaps the UK ain’t that bad?? Well according to my friend in Norwich it is.
Then it was on to Hull, Leeds and finally Manchester, taking in the sights along the way.
After luckily avoiding the ash cloud mayhem, it was back to Canada, Toronto to be precise. It’s an odd feeling being back in Canada as the city has a very different feel to the West Coast. Not quite as laid back and a little more crowded. We’re getting used to it over here and after a visit to the amazing Niagara Falls, we’re now in Montreal where French and English speaking people seem to get on like a house on fire.
The Maid in the Mist at Niagara: About to get wet
We head East and deeper into French-speaking territory on thursday, by which time we might know whether the Tories are back in power and living in the UK might be an altogether different prospect.