After two years of living in the Great White North, it was time for me to travel back across the pond to good old Blighty.
In a way I had very mixed feelings about returning. On the one hand I was excited about seeing my parents again as I had missed them dearly and knew they missed me also. We recently had two new additions to my ever multiplying family since I had been away in the form of two new nieces, Imogen and Leah. The majority of my nieces and nephews are all under five and I was worried that they might have forgotten their eccentric uncle.
I had many friends to catch up with, most of whom I hadn’t seen in well over a year since my last visit to England and no doubt will be catching up with them soon over a game of golf and, dare I say, a few pints of local ale.
I was looking forward to drinking real ale again, that uncarbonated, room temperature liquid that North Americans seem unable to comprehend, and sitting in quaint country pubs with names like the Red Lion and White Hart, as well as the more obscure and comical ones like the Cock Inn and the Pope and Proctologist. I was looking forward to seeing the colourful flashing lights of quiz and fruit machines in pubs again. I was looking forward to seeing pickled eggs and jars of cockles for sale on bar counters.
Looking back at my time in Canada, there are a few things that I won’t miss, especially working the serving industry:
- The Caesar – That odd concoction that is indigenous to Canada. Every pub/restaurant has its own way of preparing the drink and they are a little time consuming to make. The annoying thing about them is that once one person sees one everybody else wants one too.
2. Coors Light – The beer for people who don’t like the taste of beer. Whilst working at a local golf club in Markham, ON., many guests would ask “What light beers do you do?”
“Light as in alcoholic content or light as in density of liquid?” I would ask in return
“Light alcohol content”
“I’ll take a Coors Light”
Even though there were other products lower in alcoholic content, and tasted better in my opinion, guests would drink Coors Light because it has very little flavour.
3. Shepherd’s Pie – For some reason, and I suspect it is to do with the fact that lamb is expensive in Canada, pubs and restaurants would advertise shepherd’s pie (traditionally made with lamb) but actually give you cottage pie (made with beef). That’s like offering Guinness on a menu but getting Caffreys. It not that the product is inferior it is simply false advertising and it used to get my goat. Anytime I read it on a menu I would arrogantly ask the server for cottage pie.
“I’m sorry sir, we don’t have cottage pie on the menu. We do have shepherd’s pie”
“Oh I beg to differ” and would continue on a rant about the differences between the two delicious but different dishes much to the embarrassment and eye-rolling of anyone who was dining with me.
4. Mosquitoes – Believe me, gnats and midges are nothing compared to these annoying insects. I tend to get a bad reaction when bitten by mosquitoes, far worse than any reaction I ever had to gnat or midge.
However there are many things that I will miss about Canada:
- I will miss the fact that the bars and pubs have their kitchens open from 11am to well past midnight so that a guest can always purchase hot food. (The quality of bar food tends to be a lot higher too).
- I will miss the clear distinctiveness of the seasons. Summer is hot and winter is cold (fucking cold) end of discussion.
- I will miss having an identity as I was always known as the Englishman and now I’m just another bloke.
- I miss BBQing steaks on the porch in the dead of winter at -20 degrees Celsius.
- I miss being made to feel special in every restaurant or shop with a “Hello Sir, can I help you?” or “Good afternoon Sir, let me know if I can help you at all” within 30 seconds of entering.
So with a tear in my eye I said good-bye to Canada and landed back in England on 15th June 2013 in time for father’s 60th birthday. I have no idea how long I will stay in England before my feet get itchy (No that’s not the athlete’s foot) and wish to head off for another adventure. In the meantime I have a few ale festivals to frequent, stories to tell to my friends and family, and my life to get back on track after a break-up (cue violins).
Where do you think I should venture to next? Have you been to Canada and if so what do you miss? What would you miss from England if you should ever leave?