I was born in England and have lived in England for all of my life. Having lived up North for part of that time, I've visited the south of Scotland (up to Edinburgh) and felt at home there as well. Other parts of Britain I know less well.
I think The Queen is a great part of British identity as far as the outside world is concerned. Until about a year ago I just saw her as sort of there, getting on with things. But since the Jubilee she seems to have become more important in the British pysche. People now seem to have an opinion on the Queen (and monrachy in general) that they didn't have before. And whilst not everyone may agree on singing of the National Anthem (etc.) most people agree that she does a good job overall.
Yes, it really does rain in Britain. And, yes, most people moan about it. Luckily, we do have nice days as well. And, recently, we seem to have periods long enough to complain that its too hot at times. Bt, whatever the weather actually does, I'm one of those who will always think (deep down) that there's less rain elsewhere than Britain.
Everything seems to come from London, whether we like it or not. I'm much more for local decision making, but I see London as a great place to visit. Even when it was a 5 hour journey, I still made a point of visiting London now and again. I love the parks, the theatre, and the hustle and bustle. Its a great place to get away from everything (although I guess not really for the people who work/live there).
The British seem to have a great thing about manners and others not having them. Don't get me wrong, I've been abroad and seen some lovely manners, its just that it doesn't seem to be as big a deal in general. The British are great about making it an issue- its really important if you have them or not. Those that have them are generally very proud about it and want everyone else to have them as well. Those who don't have them often like to state that they're just speaking their mind and being honest. And, just to prove we have a thing about them. I'm making it part of this post as well.
Great film making
I just love the films that are coming out of Britain (or inspired by Britain, or involve British participation). Just look at the James Bond franchise, or Harry Potter. Then there's the Aaardman Animations (Wallace & Gromit etc), and recently The Hobbit has been turned into a film as well. It think British film making is under-rated as a rule and its easy to forget all the classics that influenced worldwide cinema.
OK. I'm going to mention London again. But this is where some of the great theatre of the world comes from. The West End is an important part of Britain in my opinion. What is exported from there influences what the world defines as British. Andrew Lloyd Webber's productions are prime examples of great British exports that have made an enormous difference to musical theatre. Theatre coming into the West End from Broadway has also changed British attitudes and culture over the decades.
We are lucky to have some great countryside in Britain. Just step out of most towns and its on your doorstep. National Parks, green hills, mountains, lakes, rivers- you name it and Britain will have it. And we're lucky to have enough space for most people to have gardens where wildlife loves to move in. In my garden there are so many birds. And one of my relatives even has foxes that visit her regularly. Countryside is great to relax, go for walks, and read in.
Tea (or coffee?)
The British are well known for their love of tea (I'm one of them). When I go to Europe on holiday its rare that I can get quite the same sort of tea as back at home. But recently coffee seems to have been taking over the high-street. And I love that as well! I think now of Britain as a country of home tea-lovers and coffee takeaways. I guess there's room for both really.
So, that's what makes up Britain for me.
What does Britain mean to you?