Us Brits have a reputation in foreign lands, we tend to stick out like a sore thumb. There have been many times my friends and I have sat in a cafe along Calis or Oludeniz beachfront and played spot the tourist. Obviously, there are the ones that really do make an effort to fit in, but mostly you can spot a true Brit a mile off.
I do hate to stereotype (honest!), but if it raises a smile then it’s worth it – thankfully most Brits can take a joke. Here’s my little guide on how to spot a Brit abroad…
They adopt a pasty reddened complexion and have a fearless disregard for suncream. Let’s start with an easy one. How many times have you spotted a tourist, top off and belly proud or strutting along the beachfront in a tiny-tiny bikini flaunting their sunburn? Why is it that foreigners from colder climes think factor dot sun cream will rocket them towards the locals tan? There have been so many times I’ve sat and stared at the couple in front of me thinking ‘you idiots, your shoulders look so painful’. You pop into a pharmacy later that day and see them again, buying up burns creams with their Alka Seltzer. The sensible ones may have learned and purchase a little more than the carrot oil – a factor 8 perhaps? Most quickly realise that burning the first few days isn’t that bright, it does indeed hurt and makes for ridiculous bikini lines and the dreaded peeling skin. But head to a bar entertaining proud sunburn flaunters and you will soon know you are in the presence of a rolyal Brit abroad!
The flipside; the overly cautious factor 50 wearers. Whilst on the topic of suncream, I can’t go without mentioning the overly cautious Brits who literally smother themselves in a thick layer of factor 50. You know the ones – the pale, whiter than white ones sporting layers of cream that have been so liberally caked on that it fails to sink in. The best are the ones that wear the coloured ski-creams, their faces tinted a bizarre blue or yellow hue. I give them one thing, no rays will ever get to them, but my-mee they look silly – and should you get talking to one you can’t help but keep staring at the crusty cream patch on their chin, next to their ear or on their bald head. Why is it not possible to find a happy medium? A factor 30 applied regularly and a little less time frying in the midday sun perhaps?
They are accompanied by mini Power-Rangers. I am a mother and as such, I am of course cautious when it comes to how I dress my kids in the sun. It’s easy to get burnt and dehydrated here. But, when I was a child there were none of these fancy head to toe space invader outfits that shield all sun and cover 90% of a child’s body. Surely a little vitamin D does a kid good? Fair enough, if you are heading on a boat trip or to the beach for a full day out dress them head to toe in a sunsuit, but simply running around the hotel, the resort or your villa, is it really necessary? Slap on a hat and the factor 50 (coloured ok) and let them be free. You are highly unlikely to see a local little Buzz-lightyear, only foreigners tend to dress their kids this way.
Brits love complaining. They spout a constant chorus of “it’s too hot!” It’s well known that Brits like to whinge about the weather. Before heading to Turkey they will no-doubt be prattling on how they can’t wait to catch a few rays. They arrive and suddenly, “it’s too damn hot!”. Make your mind up Chap!
Brits fashion sense – bring out the socks and crocs! My Mum used to dress me in socks and sandals. I have caught myself doing the same with my boys – is this infectious? Admittedly, as an adult, I now resist the urge but many can’t. Walk along the seafront and see how many Brits you can spot donning ankle highs and a pair of crocs or sandals. It will amaze you.
British girls wear the silliest shoes on the beach. Girls, hear me out…why oh why do you choose to wear 6-inch stilettos on an evening out to a beach bar? There will be decking. Your points will get caught in the decking, especially after a few mojitos. You will fall over. Your shoes will sink into the sand and you will look like a member of Monty Pythons Ministry of Silly Walks. It’s not attractive and you will regret it. Sport some wedges, flip-flops or flats. Far more practical.
Sun’s up – grab the towel and claim that pool chair! As an ex-rep, one of the most common complaints at work was to do with other British and European guests leaving their towels on sun loungers at daybreak and not returning until they had slept off their hangovers mid-afternoon. This problem is rife in resorts the world over. Come sunrise you see women literally running to their chosen spots and throwing towels down, some can even be seen doing this after they come in from a night on the town. Come on, be fair – if you’re not going to use it until later, don’t drape!
Brits take ages picking up the courage to enter the pool or sea. Sit around and watch. Why does it take pasty legged people so long to submerge themselves in water? It may be 40 degrees sunshine, the water more like a bath than a pool, but they dip their toe in first and shiver. Then they head over to the handrails and slowly enter, one shivery step at a time. They wait and look around, maybe comment about how ‘cold’ it is to someone nearby. They finally pick up the courage once they have reached the bottom run and, with nowhere else to go, you hear the sharp intake of breath as they finally flop into the watery depths. A Turk, on the other hand, is straight in – dive, belly-flop or extra-splashy jump, none of this nonsense. A true foreign trait!
“Where’s the best Fish and Chips?” or, “Where can I find a Tikka Masala?” Local food? Nah…a Brit misses home. Curry, Full English, pie and chips, Jacobs crackers and bourbon creams, that’s what we’re after. Luckily most resorts here are fully aware of the Brits obsession with eating food from home. Take a wander around a resort like Hisaronu and you will spot Brits in their masses chowing down on Chinese, Steak and Chips, Pizza, bacon butties or anything else that’s familiar. OK, some do venture forth and try out the (excellent) local offerings, but five nights out of seven they are normally found eating in places offering home-style grub.
Brits get very excited about bugs. “Look a lizard”, or “Ahhhh…[Hubby], catch that spider it’s massive!” Us British don’t do bugs and Turkey has bugs-a-plenty! Jumping spiders, roaches, massive beetles, wasps, geckos and crickets…you are likely to see a few on your travels here. You will often see people jumping around, arms swinging and irrationally screaming at things with wings or slightly larger than average creepy-crawlies. You will spot a Brit quickly if a bug makes an appearance.
A Brit gesticulates wildly and becomes a parrot when speaking to locals. “Wheeeere iiissss theee tooooilet pleeeeaseee?”, “Hooooow much?” – sound familiar? Why do Brits elongate their words or even cut out important elements of a sentence in a hope that a local will better understand them? The strange little actions that accompany words are also amusing – especially when asking for the loo or for certain foods or directions. It does make me laugh in resorts where most locals speak English and answer in perfect form, “can you repeat that in English please?” – an Unal classic!
They think alcohol is the best hydration. Brits believe if the weather’s hot, a cold beer or free-poured cocktail is the only remedy. They wouldn’t normally drink as much but they are on holiday, it’s allowed. The first and last days are the worst. They acquire the taste early, soon after arrival. They sit in the sun and down a few bevvies to cool off. They finally keel over a few hours later, some simply retreating to their hotel rooms questioning if they can drink the local tap water, others carry on going and are invariably out of action for the next couple of days until they repeat the performance vowing to be more sensible.
Well, there you have it. My guide on how to spot a Brit abroad! Any of this ring true with you? Have I missed any other traits? Please comment and let me know. If you find it amusing, please share and like on Facebook and Twitter – this is a new blog and your support is appreciated.