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The Solo Traveler Blog

Why I love the Brits!

Some of the protests have been more peaceful than others. This shot from an Occupy London march last year.

I want to say to the British that I see you. I see the Britishness of you.

On my trip to the UK last month, I learned that some Brits are discouraged. I told them how courteous and helpful their fellow citizens were to me and they were surprised – as if they didn’t expect civility any longer. This has really stayed with me and I want to address it.

With riots and terrorist attacks and surveillance cameras everywhere, I can understand this.

It can be difficult to see the full picture amidst news reports that focus on the negative. It can be easy to miss the millions of small acts that contribute to this fine culture. Yes, in my experience, the essence of the British remains. They are resilient and jolly and honourable (spelled in the Queen’s English of course).

It may mean nothing to a Brit when they are called “luv” or “darling” or hear “cheers” as a thank you but to me it is kindness. It’s civilized. It’s not just in the words. It’s in the actions that go with them. There’s a warmth I don’t see in North America.

Pulling my carry-on through the Tube, not having any difficulty with it, I was twice asked by young men if I would like assistance.

On the DLR platform the fellow charged with directing people, not only did so in a pleasant and helpful manner but was entertaining. He had a voice worthy of a Shakespearean actor.

At Gatwick airport at the painful hour of 6:15am, the security personnel were more chatty and pleasant than I’ve ever seen security personnel anywhere. “It’s an early morning flight luv” the man taking my passport said to me with compassion.

Yes, I love the Brits because they are friendly and courteous and helpful and their language, (luv, darling, mate) makes me feel welcome and cared for.

And one more thing. I love the Brits because they walk in the rain. This fact seems the perfect metaphor for British life – whatever rain may fall they are still out enjoying it.

And I love the Brits because they walk in the rain. I met this fellow, Gerrard, on his daily walk up Wansfell in the Lake District. He frequently does it in the rain. This time, the peak was in a cloud.

 

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  • The Queer Nomad

    I know what you mean, the British are incredibly self-depricating. I live in London and hear people say all the time how rude Londoners are – I couldn’t think of a major European city that is safer or friendlier!

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    :)

  • Cocod55

    For those of us who live in the rain the majority of the time we always walk in the rain and no umbrella required. I live in Seattle, WA.

  • Carinou

    This article completely describes how I feel about British people! I’m French and have always been passionate about anglo-saxon cultures, I lived in the UK for about 2 years on and off and I just keep trying to tell everyone how great and amazing the country, the people, the culture and even the food (sometimes) are! I am so so happy someone else is using the exact same words and examples as I do to try and explain how nice and welcoming British people can be! As for the walking-in-the-rain fact, it is completely true but, what’s more, they even walk around in t-shirts and shorts/skirts no matter what the weather or the temperature is. That is definitely crazy but that’s what I love about them. And what’s even crazier is that they drag you along in that craziness without even you realizing it ;). That’s how I found myself walking around in winter with no coat at night just because it was more convenient to go clubbing! So I’ll just say this: Go Brits!!

  • suegod

    Hi. Am Londoner through and through and family have lived here generations. I never understand why we are thought of as unfriendly in this city as all my friends and most in this community are down to earth solid people who know that kindness is something we all need. Never a day goes by without me having 5 conversations with perfect strangers – it’s the norm in London to do this and I am glad we can extend this to visitors! With regard to the tube I think people need to realise that commuters using this are often from the suburbs and a fair amount have moved here from elsewhere in the UK and seem to live scared. They are not Londoners! Real Londoners stay away from the tube at all costs. In the end we are all people and I would like to think that if you extend a kindness and show people respect then you are likely to get that back from others wherever in the world you go to. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be travelling solo!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/dannieadventure Dannie Sowden

    Really interesting post. As a brit i too am discouraged, as someone who drives heavily, i am fed up with the awful manners and behaviour i encounter on a daily basis. As a pedestrian, i am fed up with people barging past me, holding doors open for people for them to walk through and not say thank you! However, i also find that when you begin to communicate with people and speak to them, you find a decent person underneath who is willing to help you and happy to chat, i suppose we are just used to having barriers up these days.

    i do love living in Britain as it is my home, as for walking in rain, yes that is completely normal, as my auntie used to say to me as a child, rain won’t melt you like it will sugar! If we didn’t walk in rain we wouldn’t be able to walk anywhere:-) Nice to know you liked it here though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dannieadventure Dannie Sowden

    Totally agree here! I am regularly on the tube and no one ever offers to help me, they are usually too busy barging past me!

  • Linda

    Apart from 8 mths in the winter of ’97/’98 I haven’t lived in UK for over 25 years, so going back is rather strange. Things are familiar and yet strange, as you might imagine. I totally agree with everything you say. I met nothing but helpfulness and kindness in London at that same time (the DLR staff were all fantastic – and I know the guy you mean!). I’m from the north of England, and it’s a myth that folk are friendlier there, though I met pretty much the same warmth in York that I did in London. It also seems to me a myth that folk don’t speak on the Tube or elsewhere. If you approach them in an open and friendly way the response is almost always positive, and it was obvious to me in the few minutes we met that that is exactly how you approach life! We hear all these stories about people being rude or threatening and so that’s what we look for, if our expectations are different than the response we get is different, IMHO.

    That said, most of the Brits I come across are expats or tourists in the Canary Islands these days, and so many of them do, actually, live up to my worst expectations. I have no idea why this is. I am often thrilled to find when I go to the UK that not everyone is like this!

  • http://twitter.com/travelbllgr Travelbllgr

    Its nice that someone spoke to you on the tube / DLR and offered to help – that hardly ever happens, but that’s Londoners, us Northerners are a far more friendly bunch!

  • http://solotravelerblog.com Janice Waugh

    You’re right. My intention is not to suggest one or the other. In this post I wanted to say that, from the outside, I see the Britain that was in the Britain that is. Yes, there may be all sorts of problems but the essence remains. I met people who were discouraged and I wanted to counter that a bit.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004450410018 Neetu Sharma

    hmm ….. its good that u meet good and helpful person and peoples
    should never judged from their community or color. As not all Indians
    are good similarly not all brits are bad.

  • AllenLutz

    I left the UK in 2001 and spent eight years in California and Canada
    before returning. I now appreciate the UK much more, even the weather
    which although depressing at times rarely reaches the potentially lethal
    extremes found elsewhere. I also enjoy the warmth of most people, who
    generally are helpful and quick to share a laugh with a stranger. I am
    glad to be back, but I am not finished with travelling just yet!

  • http://twitter.com/LisaSamloglou Lisa Samloglou

    Thanks for the reminding me how I like British manners in public spaces. I felt like traveling again there!

  • http://twitter.com/juin61944 Brian Stern

    Agree on how Brits seem so much warmer than Americans. I spoke to one living in the US and he said the US is “more cutthroat” compared to Britain.

  • Sarah Lee

    I agree we do walk in the rain, which I think is kind of unusual as when I travel to other parts of the world people seem almost allergic to rain and look at you oddly if you say you’re going out in it. But then, I think it’s out of necessity – if us Brits didn’t walk in the rain we’d never get anywhere, as it seems the UK is one of the rainiest places in the world!

    Love this Janice, glad you like us Brits. Thanks luv!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lexi.revellian Lexi Revellian

    Thank you! Though it does occur to me, looking at your avatar, those two helpful young men possibly had an ulterior motive… :o)

About Janice Waugh and Tracey Nesbitt

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 8.52.44 PMI'm an author, blogger, speaker and traveler. I became a widow and empty-nester at about the same time. And then, I became Solo Traveler... Here's the full story. >>
Tracey NesbittI’m a writer, editor, food and wine fanatic, and traveler. On my very first trip abroad I learned that solo travel was for me. Here's the full story. >>

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