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Quintessentially English

I like narrow-boats, they seem to be quintessentially English. I’m not too keen on cricket, but the thought of sitting on the porch of a pavilion on a summers day watching the cricket on the village green appeals to me. I watched a bowls match once from the porch of the pavilion in the park. It was an emotional experience akin to watching paint dry; but I liked the tranquillity. 


Its like fishing that’s quite tranquil. I used to go fishing, but not now. I wasn’t very good at it. You’re supposed to watch the float and try to catch fish. I didn’t really care whether I caught fish or not; I just liked the tranquillity.

English Gardens

We English like our gardens too. The tranquillity is often broken by the sound of a hover mower, but that’s still the objective. A peaceful garden with a lawn, a few trees and maybe a veggie plot. There are people who have noisy barbecues and play loud music; they perhaps miss the point.

I like morning tea and tea in the afternoon is quite English too. Tea in the garden with cream cakes or muffins is a tranquil pursuit. I understand the queen serves cucumber sandwiches at her garden parties.


Food is an important part of culture. We like fish and chips, sausage and mash and the roast beef dinner is particularly English to some people. I think the full English breakfast with bacon, sausage, eggs, fried tomato and fried bread is typically English. English beers are mild and bitter; not that ‘orrible tasteless cold lager that foreigners drink… Cold things have little taste, you want to taste your beer. Right? English cider is quite popular too, many people like it with a traditional English cheese like Stilton or Cheddar.

St George

The patron saint of England is said to be St George. It’s St George’s day next week and so there will be a St Georges Day parade through the streets at the weekend. I’m thinking about photographing that, this year, of course, it’s Easter weekend. I’ll be back photographing narrow-boats over the weekend too; there’s a narrow-boat gathering and a beer festival.


English art is fairly constrained and seems to be about tranquillity too. Artists like Constable and Turner did nice landscapes. They left the weird stuff to the likes of Picasso. L. S. Lowry was different though  and some of the contemporary artists are doing different things. Hirst chops cows in half with a chainsaw…


English music seems rather tranquil. We had composers like Handel and Elgar and the popular music era brought us fairly tranquil music too. Even Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven was quite tranquil. The Beatles were quite lively, but even their music became more tranquil later with songs like Strawberry Fields.

Quintessentially English

There are lots of other things that I view as quintessentially English, like outdoor markets, the English countryside, toffee apples, scrumpy cider, English woodland, Guy Fawkes night and Yorkshire pudding. Sport is quite popular too. I think of horse racing as being very English, but others might favour tennis, cricket or even soccer.

What do you associate with the English? Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments box. You can also follow me on Twitter.

2 Responses

  1. Fairy dharawat

    I like the word quintessential, had nice sound to it. Here people are crazy about cricket- me not so fond of cricket in the least. Sports is better to play than watch. I do watch football, and playef it too long time ago. I only fifa as it comes every four years. Tea, I love tea, not the green tea variety which are like health drinks but the one with huge dairy content, its different an delicious. Nice post.

    April 16, 2014 at 16:59

    • Hi Fairy,

      I thought I would write something about England with St George’s Day next week. I prefer Indian (black) tea too. I have lots of green tea from China including some jasmine tea. It’s supposed to be good for me, but I keep forgetting to drink it. It rains a lot in England, but at least it gives us a nice green environment in places. I’m really nervous near water, but like to photograph the river, the lakes and the canals. I should do another post like this using photographs!

      April 18, 2014 at 10:52

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