The Beautiful South – 10 things a Northerner has learnt from a year down south

The great 2020 battle of Lincolnshire vs Hampshire

January 2019 I moved to Surrey/Hampshire. A 5 hour journey from home. Not the other side of the world and similar in many ways, but there are definitely some homely comforts I miss, and some new traditions I am totally here for. Here’s 10 things I’ve noticed from my move.

  1. People just ‘hang out’ at service stations

Ok. This is something I noticed when I spent my first few months living in a  hotel and finishing work at gone midnight. The only places open for food were service stations and on many, many, many drives ‘home’ I noticed so many people just chilling in their cars, meeting up with friends and generally just hanging out. Not stopping mid journey, flat out making the drive there and back for that purpose.

When I bought it up to my colleagues (18-24 year olds) they got so excited saying they often meet their friends there or stop off for food after a night out.

9 months later I found myself doing the same thing, because absolutely nothing else is open at 1am. But I only did it twice, and it’s still a foreign concept to me.

2. Kebab vans are perfectly viable and not a ploy to kidnap and murder you

Ok this one I noticed when I used to just visit occasionally. The odd van just perched up in a dark off-set of a roundabout. I always noticed the same one, but they became more prevalent, and are pretty popular. As there aren’t many clubs around here you have to travel to them, and if you’re wanting anything other than a McDonalds then a kebab van is the way to go, rent is incredibly high here too so the flexibility and low outgoings are actually a good business model, but damn, there will always be something dodgy to me about stopping at one of them.

3. People tend to settle less – want to achieve more.

My friends have always been high achievers, but that’s a small group of people I know up North that have genuinely sought out better things for themselves. Most settle down early in 9-5’s, and that’s perfectly ok, but I notice so much more fight and tenacity from southerners. After all – working is such a large percentage of your life, why do something you don’t enjoy or work yourself ill to line the pockets of someone else.

4. Northerners are a facade of friendliness, southerners have tougher skin but will help you out way more.

I think it’s safe to say I’ve encountered my fair share of tough calls down here. One thing I was late to realise though was the sincerity of friendliness between the North and South is vast. It is often remarked on how Northerners are more polite and friendly, you’d meet your new best friend in a toilet on a night out, help the lady struggling with bags at the bus stop, pick up a dropped belonging of a stranger in the street. I’ve noticed a lot of generic politeness in the North, and more understanding, however down south there is so much more sincerity when people are actually nice to you, albeit the percentage of times it happens is smaller it is met with genuine vibes of wanting to help and going above and beyond to do that.

5. Phone calls.

The south is helping me overcome my crippling anxiety around phone calls. Voice messages are now the norm for me, and although I still screen certain unknown calls, I’ll actively have 40 minute phone calls with friends and family. I don’t think this was due to being away from them as we still text a lot, southerners just ring for anything and that’s something I’ve adopted. In such a fast-paced way of life down here you don’t often have time to sit there writing (much to the demise of my frequent blog posts) so multitasking anything saves bundles of time.

6. Safety.

Walking around Grimsby is nothing, when I go on midnight runs here everyone freaks out but its perfectly safe and my northern attitude sees to that, on the other hand I wouldn’t even dare leave a penny on show in my car up north but down here people leave laptops, purses, handbags and so much just on show in their car without a second thought.

7. Repression.

Everyone hides their problems up north, it’s so tough to talk about things and only a handful of people from home know my battles, here everyone knows, i’m actively open about a lot more without the fear of hiding because confrontation is the only fix and I have a solid support structure here.

8. Distance.

Driving 45 minutes for a meal would definitely not be a regular occurrence back home, you get stuck in a rut, or at least a pattern, it can become quite tiring. Here I have a large circle from Basingstoke to Reading, Outer London to Guildford, Portsmouth to Southampton that genuinely doesn’t seem like a lot of distance. It opens up a world of possibilities for activities and choices of entertainment, but isn’t friendly to your wallet.

9. Pace.

It’s absolutely non-stop down here. Things are expected to be done, and be done quickly. At times it definitely is overwhelming but realistically (and generally speaking) the constant procrastination of the Northern attitude means you are working little and often and not achieving a whole lot whilst you’re at it. Being pushed to do things sees a more positive attitude as you can measure your success.

10. Expenses.

The most obvious and given. Everything is more expensive down south.

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