We’ve moved to another country to experience new things. But we do have pangs of nostalgia for the easy times when we could just pop down to M&S, Tesco or Boots for things we needed. However, you can still find ‘British’ things halfway across the world! I’ve come up with a little list of where to find things which will hopefully help our fellow expats!
Food & Drink
Obviously the most important thing! There are a number of British food stores in Vancouver.
The Celtic Treasure Chest in Dunbar has a massive selection of things. We first visited this shop when we’d only been here for 2 weeks and spent about $90 but it was worth it! They sell everything from Heinz Baked Beans to Radox bubble bath. They even have their own Scotch pies that are made by the butcher near the shop and they are delicious! Everything in there is pretty expensive though so be warned!
House of McLaren is in Gastown and is actually the closest British shop to us but for some reason I’ve not visited yet. Nick however has been in there to buy me some Irn Bru! 🙂
The British Store in New Westminster is a pretty big shop and even has a cafe that serves all sorts of British food. We’ve been here twice now and have spent quite a lot. It’s well worth a visit though if you are round that way. They have crisps, Bisto gravy, chocolate, biscuits, tea, Ribena, and even some British magazines.
Nester’s Market. This one took us by surprise. Nester’s is one of the supermarket chains here, but they happen to have a little British section in two of the stores we’ve been to. The one in Gastown on Abbott Street and the one on Seymour Street have beans, tea, chocolate, jam, one of them has Irn Bru and Cherry Coke (is this even a British thing!?) It’s about $2.49 for a tin of beans which is a lot but it’s not that bad.
Granville Island Public Market also has a stall that sells Scotch Pies and Sausage Rolls, should you ever have a craving for a Greggs!
One thing I can’t seem to find here is Galaxy chocolate, in any form. The chocolate here is total rubbish. I’m eating far less chocolate here than I did in the UK, which isn’t a bad thing but I miss it 🙁 You can get Dairy Milk here, but don’t get too excited because on closer inspection, you see that the chocolate is made in Toronto and not the UK, and it does taste different. It’s just not as creamy tasting as the UK stuff.
We struggled when we did our first food shop here, as we didn’t recognise any of the brands. I still struggle now sometimes to find things. I remember a time when Nick and I were standing in the milk aisle on our phones, desperately trying to find out what colour lid meant ‘Semi-Skimmed’! For reference it (usually) goes like this:
Skimmed: 1% (usually a blue top)
Semi-Skimmed: 2% (usually a purple/pink top)
Whole Milk: 3.25% or ‘Homogenized’ milk (usually a blue top)
It’s worth noting that the colours of the tops vary between supermarkets. Another thing to confuse you!
We found out the hard way what milk to buy when we got confused by the wording and thought ’50/50′ milk would be ok. It was half milk, half cream. Bleughhhhhh.
Butter, sorry margarine was another thing that was a learning experience. We first bought ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’, thinking it would be like the one at home. It wasn’t. Think buttercream icing and you’re somewhere near how sweet it tastes. After a quick search on Google, we found that ‘Becel’ in Canada is actually Flora.
Cheese. How we miss cheese! Please do not, even out of curiosity, try the cheese in Canada. The ones we’ve had so far have been awful, Rubbery, fake, weird tasting cheese. I think they are made differently, so that’s why they taste so strange. However, some supermarkets, like Marketplace IGA, sell a block of English Cheddar for about $6.99 and it’s ok.
I didn’t realise this before we moved here, and if I did I would have seriously stocked up, but spray deodorants here are pretty hard to find. It’s all roll ons here as aerosols are bad for the environment. There are a few sprays you can find in the likes of London Drugs, but they all smell of soap and old people. Oh how I miss Boots 3 for 2 deals on Nivea Deodorant!
Toiletries here are generally very expensive. For example, the shampoo & conditioner I use sets me back around $25 for the pair. At home it would be about £8 at the most. Any skincare products are ridiculously expensive. I’ve never found a pack of face-wipes for less than $10 (about £6).
In the UK I was with Vision Express and paid £30 a month for 30 pairs of lenses, plus aftercare and check ups. Here I order them online with Clearly Contacts. For the same lenses I had in the UK it costs $81 which is a lot. But they do get here fast. Which is handy for me because I usually
am too lazy forget to order them in time. The first time I ordered them I had them in less than 24 hours and they threw in a free pair of sunglasses! No free gifts since though…
If you are ordering for them it’s worth doing a quick search online for any discount codes, I’ve saved about $10 by doing this.
I’m sure we’ve mentioned it before, but we’re not fans of the TV here. It’s pretty bad. But recently we discovered the Hola extension for Chrome which means we can watch BBC iPlayer, 4OD, ITV Player etc. without any hassle. There’s also something called expat shield which does the same thing, but we haven’t used that yet.
Well I hope this list has been somewhat helpful. If I think of/discover anything else then I’ll add to it!