Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It's so nice to have.....

However much you enjoy travelling, there are always likely to be some things that you miss while you are away.  For us, things being different is all part of the experience; after all, travelling is not just about seeing the sights, it is also about being part of a new culture.
The fact that there are things that you can't get is far outweighed by the new things that you find to try - even if some of them aren't that great.  Even with my awkwardness about food and the difficulty I sometimes have with finding food that I can actually eat, I would hate to just have to eat exactly what I would in the UK; it wouldn't feel like we were away.  We have made it a rule that unless we get completely desperate, we won't eat in MacDonalds or Burger King, despite them being everywhere.  Except when we go to the States - then it will be a necessary part of the trip because it is where it comes from!

But even though we know all of that, it doesn't mean that you don't miss things anyway, and when you come home it is nice to have those things again.

For one thing, it is nice to be sure of decent and clean bed to sleep in and to know that you can have a hot shower;  most of the time our beds were clean, if not always comfortable, but the showers could be unpredictable and it is always reassuring to know that at least you wont get electrocuted in it here.  And while we're in the bathroom - and those of you who travel yourselves will appreciate this - it is nice to be able to flush the toilet paper!

It is also good to be able to speak the language.  While we got by with our basic Spanish, we always knew that there were huge parts of a conversation that we would struggle with and it makes it much harder to relax when you are talking to people or if there is a problem that has to be dealt with.  This was even more noticeable when we got to Brazil where our only Portuguese came from a phrase book or google translate!  A different language is part of the fun, but it gets wearing, and it is lovely to be back in an English speaking country where we don't have to think too hard about what we wanted to say.  A least for a while.

Then there are the little things.  As classic Brits, we did miss being able to definitely get a decent cup of tea.  Sometimes we could get 'proper' tea bags and make our own, but often the tea wouldn't be right, or the only milk available was longlife, so it just wasn't good enough.

And you can't get cheddar cheese abroad.  In much of South America the cheese is mainly a white salty variety that personally I don't like at all.  They do have some goudas and a few hard cheeses like parmesan and something called Sardo, which are OK, but they are not cheddar.  And when they do have one thing that they call cheddar, it turns out to be those orangy coloured plastic slices that they put into cheeseburgers.  So good cheddar cheese was one of the first things we treated ourselves to when we got back.

Then there is the strange phenomonen of the things that you miss even though back in the UK you rarely had them.  For Nic in particular this was the ability to get proper Fish & Chips or KFC.

And then if course there is the chocolate.  Don't get me wrong, they have chocolate in South America, and some of it is very good.  Let's face it, some of the best dark chocolate comes from places like Ecuador and Venezuala.  But we missed Cadburys Dairy Milk.  You can buy it there, but it just isn't the same.  The UK is, I think, the only country that likes its Dairy Milk as sweet and creamy as we have it,  everywhere else it is made slightly differently, more bitter and with a slightly grainy texture.  So we had some of that when we got back too!

I did miss Marmite too, but I bought a big jar on the Falklands and took it with me, so that lasted me until we came back.  There are other things of course, but even with our stint in the Falklands where we could get a quick fix of tea, cheese and chocolate, these were the ones we most noticed.

Would missing these things stop us travelling? Absolutely not; as I said, it is all part of the experience and like seeing friends and family, it gives you something to look forward to when you're back.  And, an odd jar of marmite aside, I could also never be one of those people that carries a huge supply of tea bags and other stuff with them when they go away.  Not only would it be just too much effort to carry and in some cases to get across borders, it just wouldn't feel right.  Far too Karl Pilkington!

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