Tag Archives: Notting Hill

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.

Related posts: It’s a Spanish Thing,  Toys, People vs Place, England, 2006England, 1997

England, 2002

I returned to Weymouth to stay at my grandparents house in the winter of 2002.

My grandfather had Alzheimer’s and was staying in a home not too far away so my uncle from Canada was also visiting as the same time.

My grandfather had deteriorated to the point of not really knowing who my grandmother was and it was a sad time for us all. When I visited him, he didn’t know who I was either, but he had one moment of clarity where it clicked and he started crying as he did not want me to see him like that.

My grandmother seemed to have partially accepted the inevitable as she had her engagement ring, which she hadn’t ever taken off, resized to fit my finger so that I could take it with me when I went home.

I was glad that I had lived with my grandparents during happier times and hoped that they wouldn’t suffer for too long.

Trying to make the most of the trip despite the circumstances, I went on a country walk to Upwey Manor behind my grandparents house and spent some time with my grandmother.

On New Year’s Eve, the whole town of Weymouth gets dressed up in fancy dress and goes out. So I dressed up as a fairy with my friend Sarah and her brother’s girlfriend Nadine and we hit all the old haunts with the old crew and some new friendly faces.

Sarah now lived in London in a flat with three friends. So I went to stay with her and hang out for a couple of days.

I visited my family in London and we went to the usual sights- Big Ben, Parliament Houses, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus, Leister Square, Shaftesbury Avenue, The Strand and the London Wall.

The London Eye was a new attraction which meant the line-up was too long to go for a ride so we admired it from below instead.

I visited Kensington Palace and Holland Park with my friend Clare. She also took me to Kensington High St and the fashionable Notting Hill area near where she lived. I loved the tall houses with their communal gardens.

Related posts: England, 1997, England, Singapore and Malaysia, 1988, Travel rememberings, I first started travelling