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Why we love Britain: Our ‘Best of Blighty’

For many of us, wherever we've ended up, Great Britain continues to play a significant role in our lives – and remains a huge source of pride.

Why we love Britain: Our ‘Best of Blighty'
Crumpets have long been a favourite of Britons and Anglophiles around the world. Photo: Getty Images

Whether you’re native-born, or simply a keen anglophile, there’s something about the UK – its music, food, culture and history – that is loved by many. That’s because the British Isles are, despite their relatively small size, still a global giant in many respects.  

Together with British Corner Shop – an online supermarket that delivers British food all over the world – let’s sit down with a nice cuppa and celebrate what’s (more than) OK about the UK. 

Music: From Music Hall to Acid House 

Music has always been the pulse of Britain. From the songs of bards, to bawdy music hall ballads, the British have always loved exploring the world (and themselves) through song.

For the rest of the world, it was the ‘British Invasion’ of the sixties that was the first real exposure to the sound of the UK. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, Queen – each of these bands redefined popular music, along with the rhythm and blues sound brought from the US. Then came the raucous sound of punk – The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks defying social convention in their own unforgettable way. 

As time progressed, new waves of bands came to rewrite the songbook when it came to their specific style. In the eighties, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Motörhead hammered out a new metal sound, as The Smiths, The Stone Roses and The Happy Mondays pioneered the alternative Indie sound. 

During the nineties, the ‘Battle of Britpop’ between Oasis and Blur established the idea of ‘Cool Britannia’. Elsewhere, in warehouses and fields across the country, acts like The Chemical Brothers, Fatboy Slim and Underworld played raves and club nights that shaped the endlessly evolving world of dance music. 

To this day, the UK music scene is a massive export, with new acts constantly storming worldwide charts – from Adele to Harry Styles, Dua Lipa to the King of Grime himself, Stormzy! – the Brits are a constant powerhouse when it comes to music.

What’s your favourite British export? If it’s tea and treats you’re missing, British Corner Shop has got your covered

The Rolling Stones, along with other ‘British Invasion’ acts, redefined popular music. Photos: Getty Images

Film: Reel Britannia 

While most of us automatically think of Hollywood when film is mentioned, Britain’s screen industry has been captivating audiences for over a century. 

Charlie Chaplin was truly one of the worlds’ first true movie stars and had crowds roaring with laughter in the twenties, while in the thirties, Cary Grant and Errol Flynn smouldered – when not doing a little bit of swashbuckling. 

You can’t talk about cinema for long without mentioning Pinewood and Elstree Studios, such are their legendary reputations as centres for movie magic. From Alfred Hitchcock thrillers to the spectacle of Star Wars, without these classic sound stages and the film professionals working there, we’d be without some of our favourite flicks. 

Today, James Bond continues to shatter box office records with his Walther PPK, while Harry Potter (and the Fantastic Beasts crew) enchant new generations of kids.

Comedy: Are you having a laugh? 

Ask people what shaped their sense of humour and Monty Python will be a very common answer. From a bunch of mates having a laugh in university reviews, they would go on to conquer the world with their absurd, surreal, yet insightful brand of comedy. They’re not messiahs though – they’re just very naughty boys! 

Brits are known for their wit, dry sense of humour and keen eye for satire. Subsequent generations would have their sides split by TV shows such as The Young Ones, I’m Alan Partridge, political satire show Spitting Image, the wonderful comical duo of French and Saunders, and of course the various iterations of Britain’s most cunning schemer, Blackadder

Recently, we’ve seen another renaissance in British comedy, with shows like The Mighty Boosh, Peep Show, Friday Night Dinner and Fleabag brilliantly skewering various aspects of British life. 

Comedy of all kinds remains one of Britain’s most potent cultural exports. Fringe festivals like the annual Edinburgh Festival Fringe (now in its 75th year!) and small-venue stand-up nights are fertile ground for new talent, with many of today’s biggest acts finding their big breaks that way. Today, stand-up comedy giants like Bill Bailey, Jimmy Carr, Russell Howard and Sarah Millican are loved by audiences globally.  

Heritage: A real Game of Thrones

When George R. R. Martin was looking for inspiration for his series A Song of Ice and Fire, he borrowed heavily from the real-life ‘War of the Roses’ that raged across England in the fifteenth century. 

That’s because British history is cool. It’s full of heroic battles, vicious scheming, impressive castles and inspirational moments. It’s a story of family feuds and the struggle for greater freedoms – and often stranger than fiction! 

Of course, much of Britain’s heritage is still there to be enjoyed. From The Tower of London to Stonehenge or Hampton Court Palace, millions flock to historical attractions across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to immerse themselves in the adventure. 

Fish and chips are a British invention and a favourite shared meal. Photo: Getty Images

Food: No, really, the food is pretty great! 

Honestly, for all the jokes that people make regarding its blandness and stodginess, British food has plenty to offer. 

The UK produces stunning cheeses, meat and ale, with farmer’s markets selling farm-fresh ingredients for the table each week. Who doesn’t love a good roast beef, with a crispy Yorkshire pudding? 

It’s not just fresh produce that Britons love. Whether it’s a toasty buttered crumpet, shortbread biscuits, or a sandwich with a spread of Branston Pickle, British snacks and bakery goods keep the world turning for Brits and UK-lovers.

When it comes time for a treat, for example, Cadbury chocolates are a classic that have been satisfying sweet tooths since 1831. For a wide range of high-quality, delicious dishes, snacks, sauces and staples, all Brits know and love Marks & Spencer – it’s long been the place to turn. 

The good news is, for those missing a taste of home – British Corner Shop can deliver thousands of the UK’s most loved food and drink brands right to your doorstep in the EU.

Plus, in 2018 British Corner Shop partnered with M&S Food, allowing them to deliver over 600 quality M&S products all over the world, including their famous Percy Pig sweets, delicious crumpets and quality hot cross buns within their bakery range, and beautifully unique seasonal products.

The best part is, you can order all these delicious treats into the EU without having to worry about paying additional VAT or customs fees, thanks to British Corner Shop’s new European warehouse.

So, whether you’re craving a hot slice of buttery toast slathered in Marmite, or a McVitie’s Hobnob dunked in a steaming cup of M&S Luxury Gold tea, British Corner Shop have you covered! 

Get a taste of the UK delivered to your front door with British Corner Shop

Member comments

  1. We used BCS for a time and they were very good until Brexit. They ran into supply and delivery problems and opened an EU operation to fix the issues. It’s fair to say we were sympathetic as many things were out of their direct control. However, when things are down to them, they take a very strange and poor stance to clients when issues arise. They commonly short shipped orders which are weight based for delivery but flatly refused to supply the missing items FOC and fulfill the original order. This meant we had to reorder the missing products but pay another delivery charge, totally unfair indeed! The products also rocketed in price when we last looked so we decided it wasn’t worth the hassle. We also managed to find Heinz baked beans at our local store for Euros 1.20 a tin and our choice in France is very very good for replacement UK favorites. The BCS is not a patch on its former self, a great pity but “C’est la vie”

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Beyond Venice: Seven of Italy’s most magical carnivals

Italy's carnival season brings colour and fun to the grey month of February, and Venice is far from the only place putting on a show.

Beyond Venice: Seven of Italy's most magical carnivals

Transforming the Serenissima into a Rococo wonderland for a packed two weeks, Venice’s carnival is rightly renowned as one of the highlights in Italy’s cultural calendar.

But when it comes to carnival celebrations, the country’s offerings extend far beyond Venice’s waters.

READ ALSO: Venice Carnival: What to expect if you’re attending in 2023

From three-day food fights to sky-high floats and masked revelries, here are some of Italy’s most spectacular carnivals to look out for.

Putignano – February 12th, 19th, 21st, 25th

Putignano’s carnival is one of Europe’s oldest, dating back to 1394 when the relics of Saint Stephen were transported to the town to protect them from Saracen raids, and locals downed tools to join the procession and celebrate.

This is also one of the longest-running carnivals in Europe, starting on Boxing Day and traditionally ending on Shrove Tuesday, when a papier-mâché pig is carried through the streets and then burned. Concerts, shows, and various parades all feature.

More information here.

Viareggio – February 12th, 16th, 19th, 21st, 25th

In Viareggio’s masked parade, hundreds of colourful papier-mâché floats up to 70 feet high are carried along the Tuscan seafront to music and dancing.

It started out in 1873 as a protest at the upper classes not having to pay taxes and continues to provide political and social commentary today – expect to see papier-mâché caricatures of politicians and celebrities atop the carnival floats.

More information here.

One of Viareggio's 2017 carnival floats.

One of Viareggio’s 2017 carnival floats. Photo by Claudio GIOVANNINI / AFP.

Fano – February 12th, 19th

Fano’s is the sweetest of all the festivals, as chocolates, sweets and sugared almonds are thrown from the float wagons into the crowds of spectators.

It dates all the way back to 1347, making it one of Italy’s oldest carnivals, and is thought to have originated as a celebration of a reconciliation between two warring local families.

If you prefer sweet spectacles to tastes, in the last parade the floats are lit up with luminarie, making them particularly impressive to look at.

More information here.

Ivrea – February 12th, 16th, 18th-21st

Looking for something more exciting than your average parade? In Ivrea, the highlight of the festivities is the annual orange fight – a rather messy way of commemorating the local people’s struggle against the city’s tyrant and, later, against Napoleonic troops.

READ ALSO: What changes about life in Italy in February 2023

Those on foot represent the townspeople while those on carts play the part of the troops, all throwing oranges at each other. The epic battle lasts three days – this year, the 19th to the 21st – at the end of which awards are bestowed on the winning teams.

More information here.

Members of orange battle teams throw oranges at each other during the traditional "Battle of the Oranges" festival held during the carnival in Ivrea, near Turin, on March 3, 2019.

Members of orange battle teams throw oranges at each other during Ivrea’s 2019 “Battle of the Oranges”. Photo by MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP.

Acireale – February 11th-21st

Acireale’s festivities once involved locals throwing rotten eggs, oranges and lemons at each other in the street – but luckily for 21st century visitors, the custom was banned in 1612.

These days it’s a much more respectable affair: as well as papier-mâché caricatures of public figures, you can expect to see elaborate flower and light displays.

If you miss the February festivities, Acireale’s carnival is so popular it usually returns for a few weeks in July and August.

More information here.

Mamoiada – February 11th, 16th, 18th-21st, 25th

This carnival is one of Sardinia’s oldest folk festivals, drawing on ancient traditions. Instead of papier-mâché floats, expect to see Mamuthones and Issohadores.

The former parade in groups of 12, dressed in black masks and dark sheep skins; the latter, dressed in red with white masks, lead the Mamuthones with complex dance steps. At a certain point the Issohadores ‘catch’ onlookers with a rope, who then free themselves by offering food or wine.

Festivities end with feasting on pork and beans, while wine and local sweets are traditionally offered to visitors throughout the carnival.

More information here.

'Mamuthones' join other revellers in Mamoiada's carnival celebrations. Photo by MARIO LAPORTA / AFP.

‘Mamuthones’ join other revellers in Mamoiada’s carnival celebrations. Photo by MARIO LAPORTA / AFP.
Cento – February 12th, 19th, 26th, March 5th

This quiet medieval town in the Emilia Romagna countryside comes to life in February when it puts on its ‘Carnival of Europe’ festival. Since the early 90s it’s been twinned with Rio de Janeiro’s carnival, with the winning floats getting to appear in the Rio parade.

Watch out for flying objects – part of Cento’s tradition is the gettito, where toys and inflatable objects are thrown from the floats into the crowd. The end of the festival is marked with an unmissable fireworks show.

More information here.

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