Fifteen years ago it was, that I lived in England for a year. Here are some impressions about what's changed, and what hasn't.
⦁ A woman Prime Minister!
⦁ Cycle mania. London is being overtaken by cyclists. Rural train lines are being closed down and replaced with cycle ways. Bike shops are big business
⦁ Smart phones - and the mobile networks are running slow, slow, and even slower; down to no reception at all at times in London
⦁ Fewer obvious homeless and not so many people begging. Where have they gone?
⦁ Pop-up food, south american street food, food market revival, cheap and cheerful eating outside (BYO umbrella)
⦁ Self-checkout machines - in Boots, W H Smith, every supermarket. Banks and banks of them
⦁ Flat Whites. Everyone's favorite coffee.
⦁ The London skyline. Very Dubai with all those new high-rise.
⦁ Train destination boards at Waterloo were actually working every time I was there!
⦁ Public libraries staffed by volunteers
⦁ Falling house prices - well, so they say. Having risen astronomically over the past 15 years, does this small decrease post-Brexit really count?
⦁ Traffic congestion (but this time I don't have to take a thermos with me on the M2 because I'm one of those cyclists getting in the way of fast cars and slow
⦁ Crisps or chips with everything
⦁ Young overweight girls smoking while pushing prams around dismal council estates.
⦁ Sandwiches made with tasteless, soft and textureless bread (they might call it ciabatta or granary but it's all the same pap)
⦁ The English love of Englishness
⦁ Familiar favorites in every high street; Boots, Costa, Nero, Pret-A-Manger, Waterstones
⦁ Family-friendly pubs that serve teas, coffee, and meals (compulsory chips and mushy peas)
⦁ Charity shops full of decent cheap books and clothes - why would you bother to shop for new anything?
⦁ Travelling by Tube - convenient but overcrowded, stuffy, with broken escalators. And heaven forbid that you might TALK to someone.
⦁ London Eye
⦁ Finding an unsigned, uncelebrated 12th century church in the middle of ugly suburbia
⦁ Huge baskets of flowering plants brightening up the streets (especially around any ye olde pub)
⦁ Pharmacies chock-a-block with sweeties and crisps
But I have to say, it's great to be back.