What is stereotypically quintessentially British?

What do I reckon people see when they think of Britain? Check out my list…

I might be living in Dubai at the moment but that doesn’t stop me loving my home country, England. From the ridiculously bipolar weather conditions to drinking a whole lot of tea – there are so many things that I think have become by default British traditions and stereotypes. Other Brits mights disagree, but I think around the world these things immediately come to mind when people think about Britain or should I perhaps say, London.  Let me know if you think of something different when you think of Britain, and be on the look out for my own list of what makes Britain, Britain to me.

1 A Full English Breakfast
Oh boy, where do I even start? A Full English is heaven on a chipped china plate. It’s ingredients apparently should be enjoyed together: (although I have reservations about the tomatoes, of all things)

Back bacon
Scrambled, fried or poached eggs
Grilled or friend tomatoes
Grilled mushroom
Toast or fried bread
Baked beans (Heinz)
Sausages
Black pudding
And, if you’re really like a bloody good hash brown
HP Brown Sauce or Heinz Tomato Ketchup if you’re not quite as sophisticated (like me).

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My mouth is just watering thinking about it, I can barely type.

2 Red buses, red telephone boxes, red letter boxes & Black Cabs.
We might as well have red cabs, our love of red just seems to be ongoing.

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I promise I’m sat on a Red Bus, 2011 was not a kind year for red sunglasses, pink scarves, grey gloves, and some strange winter combo.

3 London Underground
It smells of just about every disgusting thing under the sun, during rush hour it feels like the Sahara, people push and shove but it is definitely an experience and a half!

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4 Shakespeare, Fleming & Rowling
Of course these are just three names that stick out in British literature amongst many. From Fleming’s Bond, Shakespeare’s Othello and Rowling’s Potter I’ve just named so clear-cut protagonists who made history. British writing at it’s best.

5 An unhealthy obsession with the Royals & Big Ben
Good or bad, we talk about them. Do they take all tax payers money (no) and whether the Queen looked like a sunglower at Wills & Kate’s wedding (yes), we love to moan, print pictures and fill coloumn inches with our Royals. Do we need them? Probably not. Should we keep them? Hell yes! Also Big Ben is NOT the name of the building but a nickname for the bell that dongs, the actual building is called Elizabeth Tower (fun fact), but we are still obsessed by it.

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The Queen and her Corgi are made better just by being in Lego (from Hamleys)!

6 Liberty London, Harrods & Hamleys
I can’t even describe these shops, apart from using one word – yes.

7 Wimbledon, Cricket & Rugby
I should put football in there, but I simply can’t for my dislike of the sport. Tennis, cricket and rugby however. We just seem to love them. Wimbledon, as it happens leads me to my number 8…

8 Strawberries, cream, scones & cups of tea
Strawberries and cream whilst watching centre court at Wimbledon. Why of course. Scones and tea – the perfect remedy for just about anything and a daily ritual as far as I can tell.

9 Sarcasm and Irony, and the word ‘sorry’
Something we do only too well, and since I’ve lived in Dubai I’ve notice confuses practically every other nationality. We also seem to say: ‘sorry,’ a lot too. Sorry, I’m not sure why.

10 ££££
No one else has the pound, it’s ours – goodbye.

11 NHS
Typical Britain – underpaying and overworking valuable staff, complaining constantly about how the NHS is pure shite, and then demanding it treat us for free. I love it. It doesn’t always get it right but bloody hell the people who work there seem to do little else for tuppence, and I’m not talking just consultants, doctors, junior doctors, paramedics and nurses – I’m including everyone like; admin, management, caterers, janitors,porters, all of them.

12 BBC
Of course, it’s on the list. Rocked by scandal in the last few years but still in my opinion quintessentially British.

What do you think is considered stereotypically British, let me know in the comments below? Does your country have any traditions?

 

 

 

-H

 

A French Adventure – Honfleur

So the last French adventure I’m having is in Honfleur. Now on my third visit in so many years this is a great place to stop on the way back to Calais to get the train. From Honfleur you can see the Normandy bridge which takes you closer to home, England.

A port town this is one of my favourite places in the world.

It’s peaceful, it’s fun and the food. Well the food is simply gorgeous. And if that’s not enough to win you over. They have a massive butterfly house!

Honfleur15_08One of the main things that always strikes me first about Honfleur is how beautiful a port town can be. It doesn’t seem to have any pretentious about it, and the people are so ridiculously friendly. The first year we went I got a parking fine (hangs head in shame) and everyone was so helpful in telling me how I went about sorting the whole thing out.

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I know that I promised I wouldn’t make my dad get on any other small trains but I discovered Honfleur had one, and I’m sorry to report I made him get on it. We managed to grab the front seats which made the journey so much more fun, although didn’t give me enough time to get my camera ready for upcoming shots. It’s amazing how fast those little trains can travel. Having walked around Honfleur before I was so grateful that the train took us up the hill to this beautiful church called Notre Dame de Grace. Sitting on top of a hill, which let me tell you know is a bloody hard walk, it has such a quaint feel to it. Nothing too extravagant, except for the bells. Which of course, in my awe-struckedness I didn’t take a picture of, so thank you google for this:

They are located outside of the Notre Dame de Grace and sound beautifully on the hour. In sync and with an absolutely amazing rhythm, I guess part of the appeal is that I’ve never been close to bells ringing before and weirdly enough it’s wonderful.

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The train takes you on a tour around Honfleur and shows you the beach on the outskirts which is lovely. We’d never been before so it was fantastic to see some other areas of Honfleur that really were that bit too far to walk to. Apart from Notre Dame de Grace though, you don’t get a chance to get off the train so really it’s more of a quick look and drive past and if you want to visit you need to set your mind to walking.

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Of course no trip to Honfleur would be complete without getting a ticket to the Naturospace (click the link to go to the website). It’s a wonderful site where you can spend time with butterflies, parrots, giant moths, little ground dwelling birds and fish. I love a good koi pond. It really is beautiful.

Note: It is really humid, so you know take a glasses cloth if you wear glasses and avoid keeping your hats on if you don’t want a sweaty head. (Yes, experience)

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This year is a special year for me though, because for the last two I have been trying to photograph the elusive blue butterfly, of course no exact names given as I don’t know them, but if you ever go you will know which one I mean. It’s fast, it’s electric blue on the inside of it’s wings and it almost never settles on tress or plants. But this year, and yes it’s an awful photograph, but I got a picture of it!

So Freaking Proud of this blurry photograph
So proud of this blurry photograph

I was so happy, especially as I thought all my snapping of them flying around had been in vain.

Check out some of my other photos of my day in Honfleur.

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Well that’s the French Adventure over, I wonder where to next?

A French Adventure – Reims

Reims, should probably be a longer post then this but we were literally there no time at all. So, as usual I forced my poor and unsuspecting father into one of those mini trains. Literally, if you could hear the evil laughter that the memory brings back for me you will think I’m an awful person. But anyway, I made him get in that one – last one I promise, poor man. And we went, perhaps unsurprisingly around the city of Reims.

The home of Champagne. Drool face.

What I love most about Reims is that the cathedral, bear in mind I’ve now been three or four times, is still partially covered in scaffolding. This year I think I’ve completed the circuit of the cathedral but unfortunately the cover is directly in the middle of the front of this beautiful building. Apparently it’s a long haul cleaning trip around, and by the time they’ve finished they’ll probably have to restart.

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Full of Gothic architecture, Reims is a place of imagination (at least in my eyes it is). The place, specifically the cathedral has gone through a lot. During WWI and then WWII it was heavily bombarded with shells and ended up being fully restored, thankfully, after both wars. It’s hard to describe Reims, with it’s old style buildings but totally modern feel to it as you continue to walk around I always feel slightly confused as to where I’m actually headed.

The cathedral is home to the smiling angel, see if you can spot her/him in this photo. Key hint: The Angel is smiling!

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As I write this I literally just googled the Gold Angel, and my last blog post on Reims popped up. I think that finishes this blog post (face palm slap). But I will add the link to the previous post which is basically what we did this year, but will add some photos below.

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A French Adventure – Lyon – Part Three – A River Cruise

There’s not really much to write about this river cruise. I think the photographs speak for themselves. But, as we all realise I quite like listening or reading my own words, #sorrynotsorry I’ll be brief.

This was one of the my favourite parts of the whole French holiday. Even through the mass red sunburn, and yes I was wearing suncream, and the constant fear of dropping my camera in either the River Rhône or River Saône or the bit where they come together, it was amazing.

The two women who captained the boat and gave us the tour; in both English and French I might add, were literally perfection. A smooth ride, and a witty line or too which translated well in both languages they really made the trip stand out.  When you go and get your tickets from the teeny weeny office, remember there are other trips that go in a different direction on offer too!

So without further ado, here’s what you can look forward to on the trip we took.

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So Excited. Happy Faces and Happy Hats!

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To Catch up on my French Adventure join me at the beginning in Dijon here. Or read about the other two aspects of my Lyon trip: The Basilique or The Museums.

A French Adventure – Lyon – Part Two – A Look Around

After the breathtaking goodness of the Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière I was a little bit conscious of the fact that perhaps we had seen all that Lyon had to offer.

Of course, my fears (as usual) were unfounded. Although in my opinion: “not as good as the Basilique,” the rest of Lyon was simply wonderful – which perhaps is saying a lot for Lyon as a whole. If you haven’t check out my Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière click the link, and if you don’t fancy reading about museums and a little bit of ice cream follow my link to the Lyon River Cruise here, and if you don’t fancy that – well I can’t help you.

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One of the key places to go in Lyon if you want to feel all culturally aware, which we did, is the Musée des beaux-arts de Lyon or The Museum of Fine Arts of Lyon. It is possibly the largest Fine Arts museums I’ve ever been in and took us a staggering four hours to get round, mind I ran some of the way.
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Showcased in a beautiful 17th century building, the 70-room collection is extensive, amazing and if I’m being honest completely tiring. From Ancient Egypt to a room solely dedicated to different medals this museum is not for the faint hearted – or those wearing inappropriate footwear. But, and it is a large but, even though the last 30 or so rooms are pretty blurry to me in a mass of art of all different ages/styles the bits I do remember, such as this beautiful piece of wood carving that I believe was from Iran,

Syria - Wood carving from a door about 1277
Syria – Wood carving from a door about 1277

and this ever so slightly terrifying sculpture from Laurent-Honoré Marqueste’s Perseus killing a Gorgon, are things that I literally will keep with me forever. Cheesy, yep I know.

Perss et la Gorgone - Laurent Marqueste
Perseus et la Gorgone – Laurent Marqueste

I think one of the biggest failings of this museum which is ironic really as it is also it’s positives is just how much the museum houses. Perhaps, if we’d of had enough time I would have gone back more then once to actually feel like I was seeing everything which in some cases I was merely walking past trying to finish the museum. I still highly recommend it though, and as stated before wear some bloody comfortable shoes.

Odalisque by James Pradier
Odalisque by James Pradier

After a trek and a half around the Museum of Fine Arts I decided that of course it was time for an ice-cream. And not just any ice-cream, oh no, an ice-cream I had been waiting for since arriving in Lyon. A rose shaped ice-cream. Could life get any better. I literally found out it couldn’t. Bearing in mind it started raining as soon as I had my first and last ice-cream of the holiday it was a dream.

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Before lunch on the second day of the trip in Lyon, and before our river cruise – see that blog here, I dragged my poor dad along to the Musée Miniature et Cinéma which was amazing. At least I thought so.

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Filled with bits and bobs from some ridiculously random movies; Hollywood, French and Bollywood and others the multiple-floored movie exhibit is brilliant. It’s light-hearted with the occasional curtain which reveals it might be too much for young eyes (such as some of the latex props from Buffy (yes Buffy, and yes double brackets)) but it also showed short films on how props were made, and how and what behind the scenes entailed on some sets.

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Alongside the film memorabilia (which is all original and from the actually films credited) was the miniature part of the museum. It was slightly odd, such as a miniature unused swimming pool but very intriguing. How anyone has created as much detail on some of the rooms and objects in this section was completely beyond my comprehension. It was exquisite craftsmanship, and really pretty awesome.

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There is one part of the museum I didn’t photograph, partially because I was took freaked out to hold my camera and secondly because I was so ridiculously freaked out I just wanted to get out of the exhibition – which was all to do with dolls. Not pretty dolls of the Disney-kind but creepy dolls – with bicycle wheels for hands and strangely terrifying music which made me feel like I was hyperventilating. If you fancy that kind of thing go for it, but if I ever visit again I will be avoiding that floor in its total.

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Lyon15_232If you’ve enjoyed this blog post feel free to check out my first A French Adventure in Dijon here.

A French Adventure – Lyon – Part One – Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière

Bonjour Lyon, it’s literally been amazing to meet and explore you.

The bustling, but in a slightly relaxed way, heart of Lyon sits perfectly perched between two of France’s rivers; The Saône and the Rhône just before they come together. It’s a place full of beauty, food and amazing weather. Today felt like the longest yet shortest day yet. We did so much at the end I felt as if my feet were going to fall off. By the way I apologise for having to split Lyon into three parts but this deserves a blog to itself.

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Staying in the Presqu’île which is a small slither of land between the two rivers, we had a marvellous hour and a half walk (at least) up towards one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever seen. The Basilique Notre-Dame de Fourvière which is, apparently a small basilica in Lyon (small my ass but whatever).

When I saw it I got an immediate feel of Egyptian/Byzantine architecture – clearly it’s not that old but that seemed to be the sort of style they were going for when they built it. As we got there pretty early on during the day, the haze across Lyon had yet to be ‘dissolved’ by the sun, but the panoramic view was still pretty amazing.

The basilica itself contains three chapels. The first I walked into (which is the furthest around, near the museum on the right) and was left feeling slightly depressed – it was small, no photograph allowed and there was a service taking place. As I toddled out I couldn’t believe I’d been dragged up the hill of greatest and about 300 stairs for that. But as I walked into the main body of the basilica and was given the option of up or down (go down first) I felt a tingling (cringe) of excitement. The beautiful curling banisters that led down the stairs were enough to start my brain working in overdrive about what I was about to see.

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First of all, it was dark. Second, my photos will never do the place justice, but there the best I could manage. The downstairs chapel was dark, but used vibrant yellows and some blues which my dad and I found totally bizarre for a chapel. Only scratching the surface we moved round this building and noticed the use of one particular blue – a sort of pastel green/blue if you will. In all the churches, basilicas, mosques and other religious buildings I have ever been lucky enough to step foot into I have never seen a colour like this used. Downstairs, it was dark and the colour was hard to see but then you moved upstairs and…well, how do you describe something that is almost indescribable.

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A massive church filled with detailed carvings in its arches. From the flowers that circled the bottom of each column to the mosaic tiled walls which told stories of Jeanne D’Arc (Joan of Arc) and other Christian tales. Never have I ever been overwhelmed by a church, but here in one of France’s cities I was left feeling slightly weightless but very much in awe of how a place like this could exist. How on earth was something so beautiful made? Stained glass windows. Tall columns holding up these beautifully painted ceilings and walls. I wish I could show you so much more of this building than the internet in France will let me.

If you ever have the chance to visit Lyon, go. Go to this place that caused the people who walked through the doors to gasp. I can’t even begin to describe the different mix of emotions that surge through your body as you walk around this place. Sometimes I wonder whether religion should fit in this world, but then you see places like Fourvière and you realise how priceless someone’s faith can be. How faith in one deity or many can lead to people dreaming and imagining places like this, and making those dreams happen.

The magic happened here for me, I bet it would for you too.

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A French Adventure – Avignon Part Two

I did have to split my time in Avignon in two, even if today’s adventures weren’t quite as expansive as yesterday was. It was more about the travelling I did between the two, and by travelling I mean by foot.

We got up extra early this morning to walk over two bridges and discover the Fort Saint-Andre.

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The walk was long, the wind was strong and the small inclines felt like mountains, but it was a good trip. Fort Saint-Andre is across the river from Avignon situated in a small town called Villeneuve lez Avignon. According to our guide pamphlet it is a: “perfect example of medieval military architecture,” honestly I’m not so sure.

The walk up there wasn’t as tough as I’m making out. It took us approximately an hour and half both ways and was a bit up and down to say the least.  When we finally arrived we got told the gardens and the abbey, which I had wrongly assumed were attached (although they are) were not open, so it was only the fort we could see. Although the fort was fine, I can’t think of a better dull but good adjective for it, the only real thing about it was the panoramic views of Avignon that we got from the top of a battlement.

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There were some interesting ruins but we couldn’t access them to see more. It did seem a little strange that we could only get to one of the three places, but it was affirmed to me by our concierge later that evening that most tourist attractions were closed on a Monday. Note to all travellers: don’t come to Avignon on a Monday.

That being said, after we managed the walk back we found a beautiful restaurant, that was by the Porte de L’Oule opening in the city’s walls.

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My poor dad was more then happy to go back to the hotel to sleep after this meal, but I decided that it was time to try the Avignon mini train that I kept seeing making its rounds around the city. Can I just apologise now to my dad, although good (?) it was bumpy, uncomfortable and honestly although it gave you some slight historic knowledge I felt that having already been around most of its stops I knew it all already.

Having said that it is a nice and easy 40 minutes drive where you don’t have to do anything bar trying to stay in the carriage.

I tried a panorama, but in reality I was too close to the Palais des Papes.
I tried a panorama, but in reality I was too close to the Palais des Papes. Still kind of love it though