5+1 reasons why I love the UK

When people find out I am originally from Portugal, a question usually follows: “Oh, and you moved to England?”. I think people get even more surprised when I respond something along the lines of “Yes, and I love it”!

Yes the weather isn’t the same as in Lisbon – and not to say that I don’t love Portugal, I do – but there are some amazing things in this country. I have been thinking about this for a while and decided to share them with you.

1. The British are not cold and distant

It may take a while to break the ice, but if my experience is anything to go by, the Brits are possibly some of the nicest people I have ever met. Polite, kind and with a dark sense of humour. Once you take the step from being an acquaintance to becoming a friend, these connections last forever. People value them and will go out of their way to help you out. I have met some incredible people everywhere in the world, but there is something about the Brits..

The British sense of humour

The British sense of humour

As as a tourist, people will stop and give you the right directions more often than not!

2. It doesn’t always rain

I may be crucified but global warming has been OK, i.e. not in the general sense, but in the last couple of years, England has had nicer summers (but also colder winters). That means that summer can be actually a season, and a heatwave lasts more than 2 days (I love it when they call them heatwaves, or when they say “It is hotter today in London than in Havana”.

Nonetheless, there is no sense of entitlement and it is incredible how happy people become when the trees start blooming and you don’t need a coat anymore.

As a Portuguese, I will not wear sandals just because it is sunny – it can be slightly weird when in March, with 18C, everyone starts wearing shorts and flip-flops!

3. I love English food

Yes, there is such thing as English or British food and I love it. Everyone that has visited, no exception, has enjoyed the wonders of British cuisine with me – from chicken liver parfait, to pork belly, the sunday roasts and don’t get me started on the desserts.

The perfect Sunday Roast - photo by blog.mutewatch.com/tag/sunday-roast/

The perfect Sunday Roast – photo by blog.mutewatch.com/tag/sunday-roast/

I may start campaigning for British restaurants abroad. And overall, the Brits enjoy foreign and continental food so much on their holidays, they demand the same back home, so great ingredients are easy to find.

Thank God for sticky toffee pudding (my sister's favourite)

Thank God for sticky toffee pudding (my sister’s favourite)

4. The system works

When someone commits to a date or a deliverable, they mean it. You can count on it – and I like that. That means, of course, you are expected to do the same, which is more than fair. Customer service in the UK is second to none in Europe, there is such thing as a service industry and in my experience, if we exclude Asia, it is light years ahead from anywhere except the United States. If a company fails you, they apologise and more often than not, they try to make it right.

Say it when you mean it

Say it when you mean it

If you need to go to the doctor, you get an appointment on that day or the next day. They apologise if they run over 20 mins late – and this is the public health service. In Portugal, it drives me crazy when I pay €80 for a 15m appointment and the consultant is late and it is supposed to be OK. I really don’t get it.

5. Yes means yes, no means no (as it should)

..and that matters when a friendship has been started. One thing that drives me crazy is when you try to make dinner plans with someone in Portugal, they say yes and have no intention to actually commit to a particular dinner date. I try to go to Portugal regularly and with limited time, I like to book these dinners and meals early – this is difficult for people to actually understand that I won’t “wing” them. Whilst in England, with various groups of friends, we are completely used to make plans with a couple of months notice if need be. I have a busy social life and if you want to spend time with me, get it in the diary and I will honour it – I won’t cancel a dinner with someone because I got or am hoping to get a better offer.

Oh.. I forgot to mention I get to wear hats in England :) and I love them!

Oh.. I forgot to mention I get to wear hats in England :) and I love them!

I saved the best for last of course, I love England even more as Mr. O is, guess what, British! In his own words, he is very continental. And apparently, I’m the reverse which it is why it works so well.

Time to end the rant. I really don’t know why England gets such bad press sometimes. I have felt welcome by everyone every time I moved here  – from the lady in the supermarket, to the doctor, the MBA teacher or my colleagues at work. I am Portuguese and a very proud one – don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t mean I cannot live in a different country and also feel at home.

And there is no other place where people call you “love” all the time, I love it! “Alright, love?” “Can I help you, love?” You already have. Thank you for making me feel at home.

Mrs. O

67 Comments

  1. Good morning Mrs. O. My husband & I are looking forward to visiting the UK shortly (inverness then driving south to enjoy England for a couple weeks…ending with 5 days in London). Our daughter is joining us at the jw marriott Grosvenor Park Lane – we enjoyed reading yur review very much. We are going to take her to Downton Abbey for a day treat. Can you recommend any must sees or restaurants/bars in London that are not necessarily touristy but something that you as a local enjoy? I so enjoy your insights regarding Paris and other locales…

    • Hi Kathy, thanks for getting in touch! London is not short of fab restaurants indeed – some of my favourites include Hakkasan, Nobu, 28-50. You just made me realise I don’t have a London blog post. Shocking!!

  2. What a lovely post! I really enjoyed reading it :)
    Veera Bianca recently posted..From Tel Aviv To JerusalemMy Profile

  3. Thank you! Whilst I know we’re no angels, the British aren’t half as bad as a lot of people seem to think. I especially am annoyed when I’m told British food is bad, they obviously haven’t been in the right places!
    Naomi recently posted..Colombian Music: The heart of Colombian cultureMy Profile

  4. Wonderful post! I’m so glad you love the UK and it’s lovely to have someone focus on the positives of visiting or living in the UK rather than the negatives.

    I’m from the UK and it used to annoy me so much when I’d meet people in Australia or New Zealand (even fellow Brits!) who’d be ready to slate the weather/food in the UK at the first chance. I’ve just come back after 3 years away and enjoyed the gorgeous summer we’ve just had ridiculous amounts!

    I wasn’t aware that, in Portugal (and maybe other countries too?), making plans with someone doesn’t mean the plans are set in stone – that would really annoy me!

    Like I said, so glad you love the UK :)
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  5. Thanks for sharing what makes the UK special for you! I have visited a few times and though my local transplant friends may not agree with all of the above, it is great to help dispel misconceptions about the UK.
    Raul (@ilivetotravel) recently posted..Photo of the Week – Château of Azay-le-Rideau, Loire ValleyMy Profile

  6. Just love some Sticky Toffee Pudding! Now I am hungry and need to go to England.

  7. Perfectly agree :)
    Giovy recently posted..Alla scoperta della Valle di MuggioMy Profile

  8. Josh /

    Lovely post, I am British and I appreciate it when Americans come over and have such a good time! I’m also impressed when an American writes an article about the British omitting Harry Potter, Prince Harry and David Beckham. If you want a truly (middle class) British experience, you must head to Oxford for May Day, Henley for the Festival or to Chelsea for the Flower show!

    • @mrsoaroundworld /

      Hi Josh, I am not American ;) but totally get where you are coming from! I live just outside Henley on Thames – a dream! And not long til the Regatta!

  9. You can keep the weather, but I REALLY miss the British sense of humour. Oh, and pork pies. Drool.
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  10. I’m not very fond of British food, but I agree on all other counts- love the UK :-)
    Savi recently posted..Irish Faerie Land: An Ode to Flower CrownsMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld /

      It’s better than people think! And thank you :)

  11. Love England and love the post Mrs. O!
    Marian Krueger recently posted..Another Day in Berlin | Holocaust Memorial and Hitler’s BunkerMy Profile

  12. Hi, great post. Makes me proud to be English. What do you think of our sitcoms?

  13. I’m Portuguese myself too and I’ve been in the UK for two years now. I love it. I miss the weather – but I love the place. And the food, my God! I cannot pass on Yorkshire puddings and a nice cumberland sausage! And they are the nicest and the most polite of all people. It doesn’t always rain though (although not many Mancunians would agree with this) but when it does… dear God!!

    • @mrsoaroundworld /

      Hi Lara, thank you for dropping by! I must have written that when we thought summer had started in March. The rain is back and apparently here to stay. But we can tuck into a shepperd’s pie ;) and have some sticky toffee pudding later.

  14. One of my dearest friends is English and I got to visit England for the first time last fall. I absolutely loved it. :-) I think being called “love” is the nicest thing ever. It makes me smile every time. They do the same thing here in Australia, or call you “darl” and it makes me feel warm all over. :-) So nice. :-)
    Krista recently posted..Photo Essay: Rome in Black and WhiteMy Profile

    • @mrsoaroundworld /

      Hi Krista, aren’t they lovely? In my part of the world they don’t do anything like that ;) Need to go back to Oz so I can experience the “darl” first hand again. Now that you mention it, some of my closest friends are Australian and they are always saying that!

      • Hey there, Mrs O. :)

        You forgot the North of Portugal, where everyone calls you darling or Miss! As you move down South, that seems to change… ah, Portugal.

        Glad I found this blog, makes a very interesting read. I too came to the UK and love it. I don’t see myself going back, really… So here’s to the Portuguese who love their country but found the UK and are quite happy there!

  15. I am desperately trying to leave but that’s not to say I don’t see the positives about living in the UK.

    The food oh god yes! Why people say we can’t cook I don’t know, the food is amazing.

    And we’re genuine and funny.

    But I don’t know about good service. Try calling a call centre, my god you might as well waste your day burning £5 notes.
    George recently posted..Helpx: Volunteering a Different WayMy Profile

    • mrsoaroundtheworld /

      Hi George, I do get the frustration with call centres.. but have you tried the same from other EU countries? I can’t tell how how much worse it is. But this is about celebrating the good things. Kills me when people joke about the food :(

      Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to comment

  16. Yes! I don’t know why on earth the Brits have a reputation as being cold, distant and prudish. Mine and my British friends’ sense of humour is WAY too much for our North American friends to handle in terms of crudeness and bluntness. We are a friendly bunch as well. Often, we say this makes us more genuine than folk from other countries who are all too often, “Ohmygod you’re my best friend!” a few hours after meeting and then a few months later, they’re out of touch.

    The weather…I’ve actually been out of the country for the past few summers/winters, but if my Facebook is anything to go by, I’m missing out on a lot of sun and snow!

    And the service – you’re right on point there. There’s no fake smiles, but service people are friendly and will go out of their way to help you in my experience.

    p.s. the FOOD. Oh dear god I LOVE food from my home country! I don’t get why it has such a bad rep – it’s very homely, traditional stuff that fills you right up and puts a smile on your face :)

    • mrsoaroundtheworld /

      Hi Tom! I am so glad you agree :) some people don’t and it annoys me. I love England :)

  17. Luis Costa /

    I agree with everything you say about UK, including great food and nice people. I am just less sure about the weather: I am craving for sun and can’t wait to have my portuguese sun fix!
    Luis

    • mrsoaroundtheworld /

      This was written before the “wettest June and July in history”. I totally get what you mean ;)

  18. Yes, yes and yes Mrs O! Finally you see why we’re all so damn lovely and interesting,
    Will Peach recently posted..An Open Letter to Mr Simon Reeve, Travel AdventurerMy Profile

    • mrsoaroundtheworld /

      I know! It is one of the world’s best kept secrets… should I have kept it that way? You escaped, though ;)

  19. Really nice post and I it helps sometimes to think about what we like about our homeland. Even though I spend most of my time thinking about how I can escape, when I am abroad I always feel a sense of pride when at being able to say I’m from England. Oh, and you’re right – we do have great food!

    • You have a lot to be proud about! I love the travelling bit – any day – but england is a damn nice place to come back to :) thanks for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate it

  20. What a refreshing read. Most stuff on the UK seems to knock it. Would be nice to see some more references to the rest of the British Isles, rather than just England – try Scotland!:)

    • Hi Julie, thank you for your comment! You are absolutely right about the other places – I need to go and visit Wales, Scotland and northern Ireland :)

  21. I’ve been to the UK once so far, and the experience was very positive. I was invited to attend someone’s birthday party and the people were very welcoming.And you have to love those pubs… :) I hope to go back soon and bring Mr. Jetting Around along.

  22. I studied abroad in England in college and miss the Sunday roasts – and don’t even get me started on sticky toffee pudding. My favorite dessert ever!

  23. Nikos /

    I love the man creche sign!

  24. I’m so glad you’ve found a place to live that you love. It’s so interesting to read your reflections on the cultural differences in two countries.

  25. Absolutely brilliant to hear someone sing the praises of ‘my’ England, and perfect that it comes from a foreigner.
    I currently live in Paris, after living in Munich, and although these places have their own qualities (especially Munich) there is nothing quite like London for me.

    Thanks for sharing love.

  26. Yeah, England definitely has its benefits, although personally I wouldn’t count the local food as one of them (apart from Chicken Tikka Masala that is). The upside of that is all the various foreign restaurants in London! Things generally work, and people have a good sense of humor :)

    • Hi! thank you so much for taking the time to comment :) I think food has improved dramatically – when I first came to the UK in 1997 for university it was sooo different!

  27. Good lass! So funny, I’d just commented on 2 consecutive days of sunshine in GB when I read this. Lovely photo of you and your man.

  28. Great stuff…I love #4 in particular. The lack of punctuality in the states bugs me to no end…

  29. Great post! So pleased you’re finding the UK is a home from home :)

  30. i love this post, love. i think i could be quite happy in England for awhile! every country gets a bad rap for one thing or another but in most cases it’s not universally true!! anyone who travels a lot knows that :) cheers – lola xx

  31. :) niiice post! where should I start???

    Its true for the brits sharp sense of humour :) eheheh and the combination with the accent its simply delicious!!

    number 4 is so important, really important! people say that Portuguese are used to this bad terrible ways things work in Portugal, no no no, its not ok, its not normal to have terrible customer service and feel like we, customers are the wrong ones. I go to hell and came back every time have to call a customer service, my last experience was lufthansa (as usual) and I had to talk with 3 different people until got a proper answer!

    number 5 says it all!! oh Mrs. O, you got that right, exactly and I wouldn’t know how to say it better! annoys me so damn much, it really gets under my skin this “oh, I guess its ok, I will let you know if nothing better comes up” grrrrrrrr

    I also wear hats here, not so fancy of course hihihi

    :)
    cheers mate!

    • Oh Paula that’s so sweet of you! I think it is ok for us to say that some things are not acceptable. Plenty of good things, though :) shall write about those soon!

  32. Aww..wonderful post!
    As an Erasmus exchange student that has come from England to Portugal, it is nice to read your view of the country! Some of the points you raised are very true! Like it doesn’t rain all that much..lol..
    I look forward to being back in the UK in a few months..but for now I am very much enjoying Lisbon :)

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