’Tis the season to be jolly – and ’tis the season of presents! Now, obviously I’m still hopeful that Christmas morning will bring with it all the luxuries listed in ‘Santa Baby’, but when I meet other Brits here in Canada the conversation normally goes “Ooh, I recognize your accent…how long have you been here?…WHY DON’T THEY SELL BITTER LEMON?”. A ten-minute dialogue ensues, in which both parties confirm that they don’t like dandelion and burdock, but it’s so hard living in a country where it’s not in the supermarket. And don’t even get me started on the lack of online supermarket shopping and delivery!
Accordingly, here is my Christmas list of items that are not easily available in Canada, but that I wish to have readily available at all times. Some of them can be packed in a suitcase, but others are harder to bring over from the UK. When their absence gets me down, I find solace in maple syrup – an aspect of Canadian living that I have fully embraced.
- Tupperware. Or Lakeland/Sainsburys versions of tupperware. The Canadian stuff is just not good. I’ve requested that my Christmas presents are therefore packaged in tupperware ready for transporting back to Canada (the one/two portion sizes are particularly useful for freezing soups and stews).
- Percy Pigs. Need no explanation. And if one’s going to Marks and Spencer anyway, it’d be foolish not to stock up on pants, vests and leggings.
- Worcestershire sauce and Colmans mustard. Both are apparently available in the shops here, but not reliably. And both are essential on my dining table. I’ve also taken to bringing over pots of Marigold powder, since it’s much less salty than other powdered stocks.
- Ginger beer, bitter lemon, ribena. When you have them, you don’t drink them. When they’re not available, it’s all you can think about. Especially if you’re poorly.
- Crumpets. Can be brought back in a suitcase and then frozen! Not quite as good as when they’re fresh, but still a reassuring taste of home.
- Baked beans (the one-portion tins), biscuits, malt loaf. All surprisingly important when living abroad.
- Newspapers and magazines. I don’t really ‘get’ Canadian media, as evidenced by my recent description of radio stations. But my friends here are big fans of British fashion and lifestyle magazines, along with Private Eye and Hello! – which illustrates rather wonderfully the diversity of my social group.
- Bed sheets and a new pillow. Now, this is a bit trickier. I want to get some new sheets, but the measurements are a bit different here so I need to bring them from home. Conversely, I want to replace my pillow but keep using my old pillow cases – which therefore requires bringing a pillow from the UK. Assuming I get lots of lovely tupperware-packaged Christmas presents to fill my suitcase, the pillow might have to wait until my next journey.
- Last but not least, random health and skincare bits: Heat packs for back ache, Spatone liquid iron, vitamin D tablets, Elemis face cleanser and Boots No. 7 face cream. I’ve failed to find Canadian versions of these items that work for me.
So, list compiled and sent to Santa via WordPress, I’m heading off to snack on something drenched in maple syrup.