Despite being born British there are many British things I have not done.
Before I reached my teenage years I had already had my fair share of house moves, so I got to know quite a few parts of England well.
I have holidayed in many places across the British Isles and visited many sights on any serious tourist’s list; The Roman Baths in Bath, museums in London, the Lake District, the lush scenery of Cornwall and Devon, the Blackpool Tower and the beauty of Kent’s countryside are just some of the list that spring to mind.
I have seen things that are on any sane person’s bucket list. For example, I have seen Evil Knievel perform death defying stunts at Brands Hatch, seen Shakin’ Stevens perform in Warrington and Bucks Fizz play in St. Austell. I know – let me give you a minute to catch your breath.
But after I left Britain I realised there are many more things I have never done.
1. Gone Way Up North
I’ve never crossed the Scottish border, despite a trip to Scotland being on my travel wish list for some decades now. I’ve never seen the sights of Edinburgh, attended the annual festival there, taken a walk in the Highlands or attempted an elusive glimpse at the Loch Ness monster. One day for sure.
2. Seen the England Football Team Play Live
Despite being an avid football fan I’ve never seen the England national side play live in a competitive international game. I once saw a friendly game played at Wembley against Germany, which actually wasn’t all that friendly. But a match where the result actually meant something? Never.
3. Seen Inside Buckingham Palace
I have never made it past the iron black gates in front of the Queen’s home from home. I have gripped the metal rails whilst watching the royal guards clad in red doing a little changing, pacing and a lot of standing. I’m confident I shouldn’t hold my breath waiting for an invitation for tea with the Queen so one day I will have to join the many tourists who venture into the royal palace whilst it is open to the public each summer. One day.
4. Joined the James Bond Fan Club
Despite being British I can take or leave James Bond. Some ‘versions’ of the British spy have peaked my interest more than others (yes Daniel Craig, I’m talking about you). However, there was no disguising my inner and outer groan every year when my dad rubbed his hands with glee as yet another James Bond movie made the TV Christmas time viewing list. No, a member of the James Bond fan club I have never been. And never will be.
5. Been to Northern Ireland
I have visited the Republic of Ireland on a number of occasions but I have never gone further north over the border to Northern Ireland. I remember all too well the media headlines of the 1980s and 1990s about The Troubles in Northern Ireland, failing then to fully understand the history and politics behind the acts of terrorism and violence that raged. It was an area so close to home for me, yet so far removed from my daily life until terrorist attacks hit the mainland. Now I’m older I understand more. And a political tour is on my bucket list, as is the Giant’s Causeway in Antrim and a glimpse of the striking rugged coastal landscape of Northern Ireland.
6. Driven with a Caravan
Hooking up a caravan to the car and taking off on holiday is extremely popular in Britain. Yet, I have never once been in a car pulling a caravan. Near miss collisions with swerving caravans on the motorway – yes. Witness to the contents of a caravan strewn across an English road – yes. In a car towing one – no. And to be honest, I think I’ll keep it off my list for the time being at least. (Incidentally, the caravanning thing is also popular with the Dutch).
7. Craved Steak and Kidney Pies
So many British expats I know crave these savoury pastry goodies, bringing them back by the ship container load after every visit to ol’ Blighty. But not I. I never developed a taste for them. They never quite made my British expat shopping list.
8. Eaten Strawberries at Wimbledon
I have never been to Wimbledon’s prestigious All England Lawn Tennis club. Not to watch a match during the famous annual tennis championships. Not to sit centre court taking refuge under an umbrella whilst being serenaded by none other than Cliff Richard and I certainly have never enjoyed strawberries and cream at Wimbledon. But it’s on my list.
9. Seen Hadrian’s Wall
On the border between Scotland and England stands a wall built in AD 122 by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. It’s quite famous. And with a trail along it of 73 miles, it’s also quite long. It would be nice to at least see some of it, and maybe walk the trail. Well at least 1/73 of the trail.
10. Glastonbury Festival
I have seriously never been to Glastonbury Festival, nor any other music festival in Britain. Nor in any other country if we are setting the record straight. The pleasure of sinking up to my knees in a combination of mud and cow muck whilst wearing wellies in a field in Somerset has never been mine. Trying to clamber into a tent with a stream running through it has never made it to my list of achievements.
All this, despite some truly amazing headlining acts performing at Glastonbury, including my all time favourite Bruce Springsteen. The Glastonbury festival has grown year after year and is one of the biggest music festivals in the world. However, I believe that my window for attending has now passed, Glastonbury forever to be placed on the list of British things I have never done.