Tag Archives: Buckingham Palace

It’s an English Thing

Whenever somebody asks me where I am from, I always pause to answer.

I was born in Weymouth, England to an English father and a Sri Lankan mother. We lived in and out of England for the first few years of my life, I went to pre-school there, and then we moved to Australia where I grew up in Berry, NSW and was brought up as an Australian.

However, my father never really lost his accent (I still pronounce garage differently to everyone I know), I received a UK passport at birth and have spent a few trips, including a gap year, back in England.

My grandmother never left Weymouth and I always loved going back to visit her. The green rolling hillsides, the little wishing well behind her house and the thatched rooved cottages. The typical English seafront, the rocky beach and the harbour filled with fishing boats. The gorgeous Dorset countryside of quirky towns, white cliffs plunging into the blue Channel and walks through fields picking blackberries along the way.

I also love the city of London. Red telephone boxes, double decker buses, Big Ben, the tube and my favourite Tower of London. I love the parks, the palaces, the plays and the feeling of being at the centre of the world when you walk down Oxford St. I like mixing with the hip crowd at Covent Garden, standing on the edge of Greenwich Mean Time and imagining what it would be like to live inside the houses of Notting Hill. I enjoy seeing the gold encrusted Buckingham Palace gates, Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square and the bustling Piccadilly Circus. It’s also fun meeting all your Australian mates in a London pub as they are living there temporarily too.

So of course, I am Australia, but I also identify with all things English.

I was brought up on Sooty and Sweep, Noddy and Blue Peter on the TV, Punch and Judy shows at the sands and reading Beatrix Potter and Rupert at bedtime. I enjoyed eating treats from grandma like Hula Hoops, Hob Nobs and Quality Streets.

It’s always fun to go shopping at Boots, Marks and Spencers, H&M and window shopping at Harrods. I love drinking at one of the many great traditional English pubs with the same names in different places like The Golden Lion, The Red Lion, The Swan, the White Hart, The George Inn, The King’s Arms; and running to get into a nightclub before lock out. I have seen people being out on the pull for a snog, have worn a thong on my bottom instead of my feet and flitted off to Europe for a long weekend to escape the long dark winters.

The English culture is not so different to ours which makes it easy to relate to and it’s those little details that help strike up a conversation with a visiting Brit come to Australia to escape the bad weather for a time.

So, I guess I’m not English, as you are from where you grow up. But it is nice to know that I have the experience and knowledge to morph into an English person if needs be.

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England, 2006

My first overseas trip with my husband-to-be (HTB) was to Weymouth to introduce him to my grandmother. My dad was also visiting at the time, so we caught up with friends old and newer. Alan and Viv cooked us the best roast I’ve ever had. One of Sarah’s brother’s friends had his 30th birthday at a local pub so we went along to share a few beverages with my old drinking crew.

I showed my HTB, Perry’s where I had worked the summer on Weymouth harbour and the sea front where I had spent my time off on the beach. We saw a very cool live band in a local pub as he loves live music.

We took my HTB on the usual tour of Tyneham Village, Corfe Castle, the Man of War at Lulworth Cove and Stonehenge. We also went to a few pubs including the Red Lion in Weymouth, The Cove House Inn at Portland and the Square and Compass in Worth Matravers for the warmest cider on the planet.

For a healthier alternative, we climbed up to Hardy’s Monument and visited the town of Cerne Abbas with its ancient monastery and large Abbey Farm House. We went to Cirencester to visit family, Bourton-on-the-Water and Bibury to see Arlington Row.

It was nice to show my HTB where I had come from and the places that were so much a part of my childhood and trips away.

My HTB had been to London before, but at a time when he had done more drinking than sight-seeing. So I dragged him around on a whirlwind tour of my favourite iconic sights- Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, St James Park, the River Thames, Oxford St and Covent Garden.

This time I got to go on the London Eye and we had a rare clear day affording great views of the city, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the new to me Millennium Bridge. I also got to see the awesome media centre at Lords Cricket Ground and sit in the captain’s chair on the HMS Belfast – two things I never would have done in London before meeting my HTB.

Between us, we had lots of family and friends living and working in London- both local and Australian. So, rather than spending days driving all around the city visiting people, we organised a night to meet everyone at once at The Horniman at Hays which had a view of the Tower Bridge and most importantly- lots of beer for more drinking.

Related posts: Europe, 2003England, 2002, England, 1997,England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988 

England, 1997

Returning to London, I stayed with my Sri Lankan aunts and cousins in Harlesden. They took me to Marble Arch, the remains of Winchester Palace and on a tour of the kitschy London Dungeons. We saw the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and had a lesser known great view of city from the top of the long spiral staircase at the Monument to the Fire.

An Australian friend was working as a nanny in London at the time, so we decided to meet up. We went to the usual sights together- The Parliament Houses, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, the River Thames, Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus. We went shopping at Covent Garden and Camden markets.

I discovered the centre of GMT at Greenwich and one of my favourite London sights- the Tower of London. I made a pilgrimage to Shakespeare’s Globe to watch The Winter’s Tale and saw the Swan Lake ballet at the Royal Albert Hall, which remains the best ballet I have ever seen.

Family friends, Claire and Lisa, took me to Admiralty Arch, Regent’s Park and the London Zoo. We saw the Queen’s black swans at St James Park and the canals of Little Venice. They took me to Oxford St- which became my favourite place in the world to shop. By night, we went to a new restaurant chain called Wagamama and a trendy Soho bar.

The plan was to work the English summer at Perry’s – the restaurant owned by Claire and Lisa’s parents/my Dad’s friends- Alan and Viv. So, I travelled to Upwey, Weymouth to live with my grandparents.

I met Sarah at Perry’s and we became friends. When we weren’t working, we would meet our other friend Liz at Upstairs Downstairs for a coffee or go to the beach to watch Sarah’s brother’s play in the beach volleyball tournament sponsored by Jose Cuervo.

There are 150 pubs in the Weymouth area, so we also went to The Golden Lion, the Hog’s Head, The Black Dog, The Swan, the White Hart, The George Inn, The King’s Arms, The Red Lion and the Old Spa on a regular basis.

After working the dinner shift, we would go out to The Malibu nightclub where we had VIP membership and could get one pound shots on Monday nights. Sometimes we also went to Verdes, or The Rendezvous nightclub.

Around 3am, everyone ended up at Scoffers for chips, cheese and beans.

One morning, after a particularly hard night of dancing, my grandma burst into my bedroom to tell me that Diana, Princess of Wales had died. There was nothing else on television for weeks.

A family friend that visited my grandparents weekly had a cocker spaniel, so they included me on their dog walks to Worbarrow Bay, Poole Harbour, Portland Bill and to chase the swans at Poole Park.

I went on day trips to Durdle Door and the Man O’War at Lulworth Cove on the English Channel. I spent a day at the deserted Tyneham village and one at Corfe Castle.

Travelling to Swindon and Cirencester to visit my Dad’s side of the family, they showed me Chedworth Roman Villa and we strolled through the Cirencester Park. I revisited Bourton-on-the-Water and went to Bibury trout farm.

As the summer drew to a close, Sarah decided to come on my planned Europe trip with me. And so began our grand tour around 13 countries in three months.

First stop was Holland.

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