I recently read Mallory on Travel’s brilliant article ‘What’s So Great About Britain?’ with a huge grin on my face because, all things considered, my homeland really is an amazing place, and what better day to celebrate this fact than on St.George’s Day?
Call it what you like: Britain, Great Britain, The United Kingdom, UK, or the British Isles, our tiny island certainly packs a huge punch.
Here’s my list of what makes Britain truly Great:
With apologies to my US readers, Great Britain sits pretty much in the centre of the world map. While it might not be ideal for good weather, the location of the British Isles is great for travellers, with continental Europe looming on our doorstep, and parts of the Americas, Africa, the Middle East, and western Asia all less than a 10 hour flight away—most of the globe is easily accessible on a direct flight. For the more adventurous, it is possible to reach the rest of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia by road or train! Britain is lucky to have a large selection of budget airlines to choose from, making air travel cheaper than ever.
History & Legends
Who else can boast a king who battled the Pope and his advisors, changing an entire religion to suit his mistress, only to have her executed shortly afterwards? What other country has ever claimed an Empire that spanned a quarter of the entire globe? Or a playwright as well-known as Shakespeare? Where will you hear of a Princess as internationally mourned as our tragic Diana? How many boy bands have taken the world by storm in the way that the Beatles did? Where will you find a bridge as coveted as Tower Bridge? What other nations can claim the ancestry of some of the World’s fiercest invaders: the Romans, the Normans, the Saxons and the Vikings?
Has a Historical figure ever had the powerful impact of William Wallace? Has a legend ever captured the imagination quite like Robin Hood, or King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table? Tolkien’s Middle Earth was forged in the heart of the English countryside long before New Zealand got its hands on it, and Hogwarts exudes the mystique of the Scottish Highlands.
Our Green and Pleasant land boasts some of the most spectacular scenery in the world, if only we had the weather to show it off! Rugged coastline, undulating hills, desolate marshlands, blackened mining towns, landscaped parkland, ancient forests, haunting castles, grand mansions, snow-capped peaks, regency towns, wild moors, and sparkling lakes. We have it all.
Wimbledon is the most anticipated tournament on the tennis calendar, and a close inspection of Wimbledon etiquette reveals the last remnants of Victorian ideals and behaviour: a formal dress code of impeccable whites, an expectation of sportsmanlike behaviour, polite clapping, and the finest strawberries served with Pimms, the most exquisite of summer drinks. Yes, Wimbledon is a large two-week Garden Party displaying the best of British behaviour—and that’s why we love it!
Much has been said of British food, and most of it negative, but the United Kingdom has the most eclectic fusion of world foods I have ever encountered. Even on a standard pub menu you will find food from around the world. British food is often accused of being bland and stodgy, maybe that is true, but if you are looking for cheap and easy comfort food then you can’t go far wrong with a Full English Brekkie, sausage and mash or a bag of fish and chips!
Have you visited Great Britain? What was your favourite thing about the country? If you haven’t been would you like to go? Only positive comments please, I’ll be writing a follow-up post highlighting some of the UKs shortcomings later on