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Last Updated: Friday, 4 August 2006, 11:22 GMT 12:22 UK
What expats miss about home...
Brits Abroad
By Dominic Casciani
BBC News, Florida

Goods on sale in a British shop in Florida
What do British ex-pats miss about home? And what do they like about where they have ended up? As part of the BBC's Brits Abroad project, we spent a day at the British Depot in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The shop is one of many in the US that caters to the British community. So what were people buying?

Geoffrey Parker
Occupation: Civil engineer
Buying: Union flag plate for his all-American truck

I left Croydon for Florida with my mother when I was 18. She had arthritis and needed a better climate. I ended up going to university here and am now married with two sons.

BRIT ABROAD? GET INVOLVED
Florida resident Geoffrey Parker, formerly of Croydon
The one thing I do miss is people - Americans are very different
Geoffrey Parker

I found it very difficult at first - it was a real culture shock to leave somewhere you have grown up and suddenly find yourself somewhere else.

But as I have got older, and particularly now that I have children, you settle. My family is happy and I just feel this place is paradise - you couldn't drag me back now.

The first time I went back to England was very emotional for me. I saw places and things that I had not experienced for years - but it didn't make we want to go back.

My kids are dual national. People ask me about it because I've said I don't want to go back. But at the same time, I am British and I want my children to understand that part, it was personally important for me that they know.

The one thing I do miss is people. Americans are very different to British people, they interact differently. I think that British people tend to be more genuine and polite.

Nick from Wimbledon, south London
Occupation: Property development
Buying: The Daily Mail international edition and confectionery

I've been here for six years after getting into property. I brought an apartment building as an investment and took it from there. I just felt that I wanted a new challenge and it worked out for me - I feel really fortunate to be here.

Nick from Wimbledon, buying the Daily Mail
May not stay: Nick from Wimbledon
But the thing is about the States is that it can be pretty difficult to stay here - it took me a long time to get my Green Card [right to residence] which makes things uncertain if you are trying to run a business. I go back to England about twice a year - I love it when I go back, but when I return to Florida I know it's because I am ready to come back.

It's the times of the year I miss - I really miss London summers, that's a great time of year, hanging out with friends. My family comes out to visit me here which makes things easier.

I am going to stay? I don't think so. It's a good place for me right now. I can't see myself being here forever.

Rob Clark from London
Occupation: Retail sales management
Buying: Pot Noodles

I came here because my wife was offered a job out here with the hotel chain she works for. We got married in June 2003 and we moved out not long afterwards. I love being here - it's what you can do on the weekend all year around that makes the difference.

Rob Clark with his Pot Noodle
Baby on the way: Rob Clark
Back at home we lived life at a very fast pace because of our jobs. Here, we can do a lot more of the things that we want to do at anytime - go to the beach, see the Everglades, anything.

We've got a baby on the way which has made us think a lot more about family. It's the first grandchild and obviously we're here and they're there. But we're looking forward to my mum coming out to stay. Family and friends like coming to stay.

I have just got back from renewing my work visa and I'm applying for my Green Card. My wife's work have been very good at helping us on that side of things.

Roy and Myra Pryce
Occupation: Travel agent
Buying: Just browsing

We left London in 1972 when I got offered a job in the Chicago area in the travel business. We were there some 15 years or so and then later moved down to Florida.

Roy and Myra Pryce
30 years away: Roy and Myra Pryce
We're not naturalised - we've been thinking about it for 30 years but never really got any further. When we arrived, our daughter was four years old and within days she had turned into an American girl, it's amazing how children adapt so quickly.

We have no regrets about moving - but there are things we miss. We miss the British sense of humour, the British countryside, the counties.

But on the other side, being English has its advantages. The Americans simply love British accents. In business, they see it as a sign of safety - they see you as 100% safe and a good person to deal with. That's a real incentive for Britons to hold on to what they are.

No one in America, and particularly here in Florida, has ever treated us as if we were foreigners who should not be here. I think it's partly because they love the English but also because this is country made up of people from elsewhere. There's also no sour grapes when people are successful - something you sometimes see in England.

Rita Fitton
Occupation: Marble and granite business
Buying: Traditional liquorice chews

I left Manchester in 1995 to come here to work in business, initially as an exporter.

Rita dips into the chews jar
Childhood memories: Two-penny chews
I wanted to get away from England because it had nothing to offer me, nothing at all.

I just felt I could see my life stretching out before me - getting married, having kids, doing nothing. Well I didn't want to forget about my own life.

Florida offered me a lot. There was no language barrier and there is a lot of sunshine. It's the kind of place that if you work hard or ambitious, you can achieve things that you could not do in England. Florida is a playground.

I do miss British telly which is why I get BBC America.

Nick Tuffney
Occupation: Property, exporting, investment
Buying: Curry sauce
I've been away from London 10 years and had a very successful life here in Florida.

I'm married, have six children and I've made money. I have lived the American Dream and have just bought a bit of jungle in Panama which I want to turn into a resort.

Nick misses his curry sauce
Nick misses his curry sauce
I think to succeed in America you have to be outgoing, which I am. But it helps if you can get any advantage and the English accent is definitely an advantage.

I don't think I would ever go home to England permanently, I just think people these days walk around like zombies who have been shot. Why can't they wear something bright and put a smile on their faces?

Having said that, some of our kids are in school in London at the moment.

When they were in American schools I was so proud of them and the way they conducted themselves compared with American kids.

So I want them to keep an idea of what it is to be British, what it means. That gives them stability and culture because they need to know who they are, particularly if like me you start from humble beginnings.

And that's probably why the one thing I have never liked about Florida is its lack of society. Everyone acts like your friend, but they're not really your friend. It's a hugely transient population.


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