As I sit down to write this, it's worth noting I'm writing to you from across the pond. Vancouver, Canada, specifically.
You see seven years ago, I packed my life into two suitcases, waved goodbye to my friends and family in England, and jetted off to a new life on the west coast of the Great White North. It's been brilliant. It really has. It's a beautiful country and the people are lovely. And yes, it's true what they say about Canadians and their politeness, love of hockey, and hardiness to sub-zero temperatures!
But I'm giving it all up. This means parting with almost all of my worldly possessions. Everything I've worked hard for over almost a decade. Clothes. Shoes. Furniture. My car. My book collection. My apartment.
Why kiss goodbye to it all? Put simply - you can live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world and have an impressive array of personal items, but none of it means sh*t if you're away from the people you love the most.
And... I miss England. Believe me, I never thought those words would pass my lips.
Hear me out. I know we've had a tough year. Brexit is nothing to be sniffed at. But our country is beautifully unique. From the woman who didn't think twice about waving goodbye to England seven years ago, I would like to remind us all of what makes our country truly great. Here are seven of those reasons.
Yes, Canadians are wonderful. But there's nothing like a Brit! Our mannerisms, our endearing social awkwardness, our need to hold doors and be polite at all times. I've travelled the world and there's nothing quite like sitting down with a fellow Brit to talk about the weather, traffic jams or the travesty that is the decision to send home all of the good acts at The X Factor judges houses (seriously, what's going on??). I love you all!
Our history and architecture
Vancouver's skyline is absolutely gorgeous and it's called the City of Glass for a reason. Yes, each building is visually mesmerizing, but it all looks the same. What struck me during my two visits to London this year was the diversity of our buildings. You would find an 800-year-old church next to a brand new glass-and-steel monolith stiffly positioned in the center of the square mile. Pubs and cafés are hidden away down small, winding side streets with names to rival characters from a Dickens novel. And it's all down to our rich and textured history spanning back centuries upon centuries. You don't really get that rich past in our beloved North America. Believe me - I've searched high and low.
Tea. Oh god, the TEA!
Yep, I've done the legwork on this one too. Tea is in such an abundant supply on our gorgeous little island that I took it for granted. I soon found the coffee over in Canada is rocket-fuel-grade and served in copious quantities, but the tea won't hit the spot. Each trip to England since my decision to immigrate would enviably end with a last-minute dash to ASDA to stock up on a bumper pack of PG Tips (true story). And don't even get me started on British chocolate... why is Galaxy so freaking delicious?? What's in there? Do I even want to know?
It's such a refreshing change to travel on a train for 30 minutes in England and disembark to be greeted with a contrasting accent. Again this comes down to our history. Settlements were cut off from one another back in Elizabethan times, and so each community had its own language. The only unifying accent was that of the monarch, hence the phrase The Queen's English. Today, that manifests itself with beautiful, vibrant accents in regions throughout our great country. And while I love a Canadian accent (it's absolutely gorgeous), the tone is the same no matter which city you travel to. Which, by the way, is several hours away. By plane.
Fun fact. You can't buy a drink at a bar in North America. It's all table service. And while that sounds really lovely and fancy, I've missed the experience of waiting to get served at a bar. That's where you meet the best people! And the banter in pubs is not quite the same over here. It's a sports bar culture, not a pub culture. It's not bad, it's just... not England.
Brits know how to dress, especially in our major cities like London, Manchester and Leeds. Affordable style makes fashion and expression easy. And it's so diverse and eclectic. Brits' self-expression through clothing is unparalleled. I honestly haven't found anything quite like it in any of the many countries I've travelled to, and believe me when I say you guys should be damn proud because you're stylin'.
Tom Hiddleston. Adele. Ed Sheeran. We're a talented bunch! And let me tell you, as a Brit living overseas, nothing makes me more proud than seeing an English singer, actor or artist becoming a worldwide phenomenon. Way to put us on the map!
So for those of you wondering whether you should stay in England or start afresh in pastures new, allow this final thought to ruminate.
I came to Canada seven years ago with only two suitcases in my hand, a dream in my heart and a fire in my belly. In two months' time, I'll leave this country just as I arrived.
Don't be afraid to start over.
And remember, sometimes everything you want is right where you left it.