Tuesday, 24 September 2013 23:32

Why don't you go home?

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trafalgar squareBeing an ex-pat Aussie living in the UK has given me an opportunity to see things through the eyes of the English. The recent Austrlaian election did not make much of an impact here. After all, Australia is at the end of the world and what happens there has little impact on the lives of the English unless we are competing with each other in the sporting arena.

What is apparent is that there are many here who would much rather be somewhere else and often miss the good points about their own country, just like a lot of Aussies I know and have known.

When it comes to Australia many of the English only see is a land full of opportunity and sunshine, a place with wide open spaces and big gardens. A place where it is OK to 'work to live' rather than 'live to work'. They would risk the deadly animals and insects for a life 'Downunder' in preference to the rain, crowds and high cost of living.

I am often asked 'why don't move back to Australia. Surely it is a better place to live than England?'. This isn't asked bacause I am complaining about England (I gave that up years ago), but because there is a genuine thought that Australia is one of the best places in the world to live and why would anyone choose England as an alternative.

My answer to this is 'all places have their good and bad points, that includes Australia'. I hope that I am not branded un-patriotic by uttering those words. I love Australia and being an Australian. I do believe that there are 'not so good points' to living in Australia.

The distances are one thing I do not miss. Having worked in an industry where I was required to travel most of the state of NSW I remember many tiring days doing nothing but driving. In England I often overestimate the distances and arrive at my destination much ahead of schedule. My guess is I will never get used to it.

If I wanted to travel to foreign countries from Australia I would need an air ticket. A few years ago I drove from my home in England at 8am in the morning and arrived in Paris at 3pm in the afternoon. It was astounding to me because it had never crossed my mind that I would ever 'drive' from one country to another within the space of daylight hours. The vast size of Australia was certainly brought home to me after that trip.

The proximity to Europe is a bonus for holidays and experiencing new sites, food and culture. I have visited some countries that were only dreams to me when was resident in Oz. I am as far from finished with exploring Europe as I am from exploring Australia.

Sitting on the ground in a park and being bitten by ants is another thing I do not miss, nor the bindis or cat-eyes (and sometimes both) in the bottom of my feet. The parks in England are almost 'biter free' bar the wasps that swoop around you trying to get a bit of your lunch, or a bit of you if you are unlucky. You can sit in the long grass and not worry about a snake crawling up the leg of your trousers, you can even climb a tree without concern of being bitten by hornets. The one thing you do have to watch out for is the cost of parking but I guess that is now the case in Australia these days?

Homesickness does still strike me hard from time to time. Watching the Rugby League and seeing all those people sitting in the Sunshine in the middle if Winter makes me want to get on a plane a go back. One of my great joys in life has been fishing. Watching videos of fishing here makes me homesick for standing on the rocks or the beach with the Pacific stretched out in front of me. There is nothing about standing in a cold river wearing plastic trousers that remotely attracts me to the thought of fishing here.

So I accept I am here in the UK and every week something comes along to open my eyes to something new. It could a new type of insect or the history behind an unobtrusive little cottage where Guy Fawkes was planning on blowing up the Houses of Parliament on a 5th of November before my forefathers ever set foot in Australia. Or it could be a simple word or phrase that has never passed my ears. Whatever it is the most important thing in life is to be happy, no matter where you are, be happy.

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Mike Burgess

I like to blog because it makes sense to have a voice.

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