News, humour and information for Brits worldwide!

British Expat Newsletter: September 2012

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In this issue

This month

If you’ve ever travelled to a country which issues eVisas, you’ll know that they’re a convenient way to save on paperwork and the hassles of sending your passport away to a consulate or standing in a queue at an airport. But there’s always someone out there who wants to take a good service and use it to sucker people into giving them money for nothing. You can read how it’s done in Dave’s exposé, eVisa Asia? e-Visa rip-off!

Our eBook venture started last month has been expanded from one book to three. As well as our Bangkok Basics – 101 Tips, we’ve added a similar Cambodia Basics – 101 Tips, which covers Siem Reap and Phnom Penh as well as giving some general hints and tips for how to make the most of this charming but challenging country.

And Theodore Koukouvitis, a writer based in Greece’s second city, Thessaloniki, has put together The Smart Tourist’s Guide to Greece, an insider’s view of the aspects of Greek culture that the spoon-fed package tourists miss out on. It’s a fascinating read!

Theo’s also written an article for us about the impact of Greece’s economic, political and social turmoil on the prospects for expats. If you’ve been mulling over the possibilities of a move to Greece, this is essential reading.

Our latest Pic of the, ahem, Week is of a builder in Delhi’s Sarojini Nagar market. Rich and poor exist side by side in India’s cities, which makes for a lot of stark contrasts as you travel round Delhi.

And for our latest Quick Quiz, Theo’s contributed five fiendish questions on Greek culture and history. How much do you know about Greece? Take the quiz and find out!

Editorial: Something cheesy

Cheese is great, isn’t it? It must be one of the top items on the average British expat’s list of nostalgia food. And although Charles de Gaulle famously complained about the difficulty of governing a country with 245 different cheeses, the British Cheese Board claims that Britain produces over 700! A far cry from that series of adverts they used to run in the 1970s that named only nine. (Can you remember them? You’ll find a list on the forum discussion linked to at the end of this editorial.)

There have been quite a few famous cheese-lovers in British popular culture over the years. Ben Gunn, the castaway befriended by Jim Hawkins in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, hankered after cheese while waiting for someone to come and rescue him. And of course more recently there’s been the Wallace and Gromit films, in which Wallace has something of an obsession with it. In fact, the very first W&G adventure, A Grand Day Out, has the duo going to the moon in a rocket to see whether it really is made of green cheese.

W&G have an extra dimension of humour in East Asia. Cheese isn’t as popular there as it is elsewhere in the world – a relatively high proportion of the population suffers from lactose intolerance. So Wallace’s passion for cheese was seen as something bizarre.

When you think about it, though, cheese is maybe not as pleasant as all that. We devised a quiz once in which various foodstuffs were described accurately but in rather unflattering terms. Cheese was included as “congealed bovine mammary secretions”. And it’s quite common for those who don’t like it to disparage it as “rotted milk”.

Fair enough. Some food scientists have theorised that cheese is an acquired taste, because it relies for its flavour on chemicals that are found in rotten food. (Presumably if Kraft Dairylea triangles really tasted of cheese, they wouldn’t be so popular with children.) I was rather shocked when researching this editorial to find that one of the principal bacteria used in making Emmental is streptococcus, although it turned out that it was a non-harmful species rather than the one that gives you a nasty sore throat.

On the other hand, there are a few myths about cheese that appear to be unfounded. Like the one about nightmares. The British Cheese Board carried out a study in 2005 which found that cheese actually helps you sleep better – although apparently it can give you more vivid dreams. Eating Cheddar allegedly makes you more likely to dream about famous people; Lancashire gives you dreams about the future; Red Leicester gives you dreams about the past. And if you want a dream that’s just plain weird, then Stilton is the cheese of choice.

As for the lactose-intolerant, unless they’re really hypersensitive they should actually be OK with hard cheeses like most of the traditional British ones. Hard cheeses have more of the whey squeezed out of them, and it’s the whey that contains the lactose – so your typical British hard cheese contains only about 0.1 per cent lactose. And, of course, it’s chock full of calcium.

So if anyone asks you what UK food you really miss… say “Cheese!”

Do you remember those nine British cheeses? Was one of them your favourite? Why not let us know on our discussion forum?

Do you miss the news from “back home”? Or does it warm the cockles of your heart to read about the old place and realise you’ve escaped from it? Either way, British Newspapers Online is the site for you – it’s the most comprehensive directory of the British press, with links to all the UK national newspapers and over 1,400 local and regional papers’ websites, so why not pop over and find your old local rag?
British Newspapers Online

Write for British Expat

Would you like to write for British Expat? Sorry, we don’t pay for articles but if you have a website we’ll link to it in the author’s blurb below any of your articles we publish. We use all sorts of content as long as it’s useful and/or interesting to our readership.

Besides articles, we also publish quick trivia quizzes – five questions about any subject. So, if you’d like to write for us but don’t feel like producing a literary masterpiece, then why not try writing a quickie quiz about your city, country, or even your hobby? Please use our contact form to get in touch.

British Expat Amazon Shopping

Amazon don’t just do books, you know. We’ve teamed up with them to bring you the ultimate in online shopping – from a micro SD card to a garden shed! A great way to do your shopping online, especially if the shops aren’t up to much in your part of the world.
BE Amazon Shop: UK & EU | BE Amazon Shop: non-EU

And now for something completely different…

Well, this guy is very talented and quite experimental. He’s also a pal of mine so I’ll not say too much about his experiments.

Luckily his parents gave him a middle name which is easily shortened to Art. Very appropriate. Have a look and see what you think about his art. I hope you enjoy it.
Jim Waller Art

So there’s a round-up of all that’s been going on. Come on over and see for yourself! Don’t forget…
Visit the BE website and join in with our lively community!

Till next time…

Happy surfing!

Kay & Dave
Editor & Deputy Editor
British Expat – the definitive home for British expats

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