Living in New Zealand, there are lots of things I miss about Britain. This sort of thing, for example:
New Zealand doesn’t have anything like that.
Expat bloggers always write about what they miss from their home countries. (Here’s an article I wrote called Top 20 Things a Brit in New Zealand Misses.) But what about the things we DON’T miss?
Below, I’ve compiled a list of ten things I don’t miss about Britain. See what you think.
1) Stinging nettles
My British childhood was blighted by these buggers. The alley behind our house was overgrown with them. You often had to sidle along the wall with your stomach drawn in to avoid their touch. Then there was that time when I was three years old, riding my bike and wearing nothing but a thin leotard, (because it was summer and I was on my way to a dancing lesson,) and next-door’s enormous dog chased me and knocked me off into a towering patch of them! Every inch of my skin was stung!
When I was seventeen, when I’d been living in New Zealand for seven years, I went on a school trip back to England with some Kiwi classmates. One girl, who’d never seen a stinging nettle before, brushed past a clump thinking they were ordinary plants… I was too late to warn her and could only watch in horror. Unfortunately, I’d been away from England long enough to forget what dock leaves looked like, so I couldn’t do anything to help the pain. I remembered rubbing a dock leaf on my stung knee many golden summers ago, just like my friend Becky showed me…
2) The rain
Obviously. It rains a lot in New Zealand too, but really not as much. And it’s not the grey, relentless, oppressive rain you get in Britain. And I haven’t experienced any sleet since moving to New Zealand. Or had to wade through any of that awful, brown slush you get up the streets in winter. New Zealand’s weather is just better.
3) Dog shit
There’s hardly any on the streets in New Zealand. When I went back to Britain last year, I had to re-train myself to watch out for it.
Everywhere has groups of young people from rough backgrounds trying to have a good time in ways that many would perceive as misguided, and New Zealand is no exception. The Kiwi equivalent of the British chav – the bogan – seems nowhere near as crass, however. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that New Zealanders as a whole are more laidback than Brits.
5) Everyone moaning all the time
It’s common for Brits to communicate in complaints. The shared sense of disgruntlement creates a warm camaraderie that other nationalities often don’t quite understand. It can be difficult to take when you’re not used to it. When I went back to Britain last year, after thirteen years of living in New Zealand, I actually felt a bit oppressed by the constant moaning. Everyone was bringing everything down all the time. I mean can’t you just appreciate the good things and not let the bad things worry you? They’re not that important anyway. That’s the Kiwi way – the “she’ll be right” attitude – and to those that criticize it for creating a nation of complacent people, I say it’s better than the miserable alternative. No wonder Kiwis call us ‘whinging poms’!
6) The traffic
Only Auckland’s traffic comes close to the nightmare that is Britain’s. You actually can’t blame ’em for complaining about that.
7) Those trashy tabloid newspapers
New Zealand has a few fatuous celebrity gossip magazines, but it doesn’t have anything like The Sun or the Daily Mirror! Returning to Britain last year and having endless headlines like ‘ROYAL SEX SCANDAL SCOOP’ and ‘CELEBRITY SNORTS COCAINE OFF OWN TITS’ blasted in my face really made me despair for the state of the nation.
8) People so xenophobic they won’t even try spaghetti Bolognese
Perhaps because New Zealand is a country of immigrants, everyone’s just more open-minded.
Not even Tories, just snobbishness in general. New Zealand has more of an egalitarian attitude than Britain does.
10) Pavements black with chewing gum
You get splotches of gum on the pavement in New Zealand too, but it wasn’t until I went back to Britain that I realised just how bad British streets are. In the centre of my home town, there was more gum than pavement! It was revolting. (Chewing gum’s just one of my pet hates. Grr.)