Bonus Episode 18 - A Brit Moves back to the UK | Ft. Martin

Feb 7 / Charlie Baxter

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What's this episode about?

Learn British English in this episode where Charlie chats with his podcast pal Martin Johnston of Rock N' Roll English. In this episode, they talk about the pains of moving countries amid the pandemic restrictions. Find out why Martin might have to chop 20% of his sofa off to move back to the UK. They also talk about phone call etiquette as you can't just call someone up at any time! Learn about today's travel pains and how to go about it in this episode of The British English podcast.

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Meet today's guest

Martin

From Rock N' Roll English

Martin is from the UK but lives in Italy and teaches English at International House Palermo and runs a wonderful podcast called Rock N' Roll English which has a similar mission statement to The British English Podcast although I'd say his is a bit more informal and unfiltered focusing less on culture and more on authentic stories and conversations. 

He has many years experience teaching English and has taught English at various different schools, large financial companies, law firms and now he teaches at International House, Palermo.

He has a TEFL qualification and is also CELTA qualified.

Martin also likes reading books and going to bed early cos he's so Rock n’Roll.
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Transcript of Bonus Ep 18 - Pt. 1 Transcript

Charlie:
Hello and welcome to the British English podcast with your host, Charlie Baxter. Today we're going to have a conversation with somebody who is in the process of moving back to the UK. And I said 'back there' because they are British. They were born and raised in the UK. You've heard of them before. He's been on my show many times. He's the one and only Rock and Roll star Martin Johnston. Hello, Martin, how you doing?

Martin:
Not bad. Charlie, thanks for having me on again. Always a pleasure.

Charlie:
Lovely stuff. So we wasted no time at all, and we started recording to catch the real English in the conversation. We haven't spoken properly for, I'd say, four months, maybe three, three months?

Martin:
Something like that, yeah.

Charlie:
And in that time you've attempted to move back to the UK. You're back in Sicily.

Martin:
That's the perfect word!

Charlie:
You're back in Sicily. So can you tell me what's going on right now?

Martin:
Who would have guessed, but moving country is actually really difficult. So we moved back to the UK. I mean, thinking about it in hindsight, it was a very stupid thing because we moved back on the twenty fourth of December. And then obviously that's kind of a busy time of year, really, isn't it?

Charlie:
Yeah.

Martin:
Because you have Christmas and New Year.

Charlie:
Did you have the song 'we're driving home for Christmas, baby' kind of...

Martin:
Yeah, but we just had to move driving. Like, change that for 'flying'. Yeah. And yeah, had that. And then well, mainly because we wanted to obviously have Christmas in England because like obviously the pandemic and stuff haven't been able to go back so much. And so then we thought, OK, then we'll go over then and we'll stay over. But very quickly, obviously looking for a place to rent and between Christmas and New Year's, you can imagine that it's not so easy.

Charlie:
Oh yeah.

Martin:
So you kind of have to wait for everything to go back to normal and then- I think because maybe we're just used to how things are in Sicily or I just don't remember how well- or what's involved with renting a place in the UK, but there were so many, like checks, and it was just lots of boring stuff. So when I was going into agencies, so they say, right, OK, how much do you want to spend blah blah blah? And they say, OK, so, are you working at the moment? And so then I would respond, Well, I'm self-employed and immediately it would be like, Oh, like, like, we don't like that. And then it's OK. Like, I can cover the rent. No problem. And they say, OK, well, we need your last three years of tax returns. And I was like, Well, I've I've only been officially self-employed for less than a year. And in another country, and then they were like, 'OK?' I really sort of looking at me like I was an alien.

Charlie:
Wow, this is actually really useful information for me because, yeah, I'll be facing the same kind of doubt in about a year or so.

Martin:
Yeah. And then to make things even worse, they said, like, will you be living in the property alone? And I said, Well, no, my wife and daughter are coming over as well. And they were like, OK, so- because when I said, I'm coming over- because I want it to make out that they weren't with me at that point because I was going alone and I wanted to make out they were still in Italy and they were going to come back, but really, they were in England as well because I thought I'll rent it in my name. Yeah, Do everything then and then they can move over. And then they said, Right, okay, well, she's going to have to be here on the day you're moving. And then when I said that she was Italian, they said, because obviously now with Brexit, you need a visa. They said, has she got her visa? And we went in October to get the visa. It should be any day and again, just had that face of like, Hmm.

Martin:
And the other thing, which again, I didn't know, apparently this is because of the pandemic, because lots of people working in London that are now working from home and will continue working from home, or maybe they'll have to go to the office one or two times a week, are all moving out of London because London is obviously much more expensive and going to like the areas near London, one of which is Chelmsford in Essex, which is where I'm from. So there's like a really high demand for rented properties. And then when we were going to see a property, they said, for example, OK, so like 25 people have seen it already, 10 have said yes. So if you're interested, we'll put your name on the list of, the 'yes list', let's call it. And then we will give the 'yes list' to the landlord and they will make a decision of who is the best person. And for everything I just explained pretty sure we were at the bottom of that list.

Charlie:
So you can't get that person's details and, you know, wine and dine them, maybe, or ...

Martin:
Yeah, send him a nice bottle of wine or something like that. No, unfortunately not. And luckily, we managed it because there was a point when honestly, I was thinking, I don't think this is going to be possible, and it's quite, it's quite demoralising as well because obviously we were staying at my mum's, which, you know, with a wife and child can be quite stressful anyway.

Charlie:
Although does that not help? Sorry to interrupt, but does that not help the fact that you've got a hand in helping with your child? How old is your baby?

Martin:
Yeah, nearly one. Maybe by the time this podcast comes out, she'll be one. Her birthday's on Valentine's Day, just in case you're interested. Easy to remember. It helps with that. But you know, we had essentially gone from living in a very large apartment to living in a room, basically. And you like, you know where your stuff is. And then we were kind of basically living out of a suitcase. On top of that, obviously, I was trying to work and then you have to go out and see houses. You go and see the house and they say again, OK, well, you know. One place they said, I called and they said, OK, well, forty seven people are before you, do want me to arrange a viewing for after- to put you number 48. And I was like, Well, I mean, you can, give me a ring if 47 people say no, I mean, if 47 people say no, there's probably something wrong with the property anyway. So yeah, it was quite demoralising and kind of thinking, I just, I don't think this is going to work. But then luckily, we kind of like a friend of a friend kind of thing spoke to them and then they took us around to see a property that wasn't on the market yet, that nobody had seen. So there weren't 47 people in the queue.

Martin:
And then so then we said, Yes, OK, we'll take this. And then, they then said it will be ready at the end of February, early March. So we thought, let's go back to Sicily. We still have 90 percent of our stuff here and also now trying to work out how to move stuff because we, I mean, we've only lived here for a few years, I think four years. So we've got everything just kind of like brand new. I mean, we bought a new couch, like in August, and that was obviously quite a lot of money. And so you kind of think, well, this place we're going to is, is unfurnished.

Charlie:
Right.

Martin:
So you kind of think, do I want to buy another couch? I mean, I bought one of those in August. It's not something- you don't normally buy two in six months, do you?

Charlie:
No. Yeah, it's a good quality couch. Is it an L, by any chance?

Martin:
It's yeah, it's one of the Ls. Yeah, it's an L.

Charlie:
Beautiful. Beautiful.

Martin:
Yeah, it's, I love it. A real beauty. But so, yeah, I would very much like to bring that. But the problem is now moving things. So yeah, we've been speaking to quite a lot of people about like international transport. People come around and they have like a little clipboard, and it is strange, you send them pictures on WhatsApp of what you want to bring and then they come around to look at it. And then you think we'll kind of probably just saw this from the picture. And then what they also do is they said they- first of all from the WhatsApp quote, say, OK, yeah, no, you haven't got that much stuff. It will be like, I probably like two and a half, three thousand. Ok, that sounds good. And then they come round and they say, Oh, I think it probably be like eight or 10 and you're like, Oh, okay. Exactly.

Charlie:
Here's the door? Ok, well, it depends how much stuff you've got. But we used to live in Germany and we decided to leave our stuff in the UK whilst we lived in Australia. And then when we go back to Australia, our stuff will still be there. So if that- does that make sense?

Martin:
So- so you used to live in Germany?

Charlie:
Yes.

Martin:
And so you moved your stuff from Germany to the UK?

Charlie:
Yes.

Martin:
And so then when you come back from Australia, your stuff, you still have in the UK?

Charlie:
Exactly. We've put it in storage. We've actually put it in my grandfather's garage who's recently deceased, so I don't know what's going to happen there.

Martin:
Okay. Well, sorry to hear that.

Charlie:
No. Yeah, he had a good innings, but thank you for saying that. Yeah, I feel like maybe what we did might might be interesting for you. So I I looked at quite a few men with vans or...

Martin:
Okay, 'a man with a van'. That's such a great term, isn't it? Yeah.

Charlie:
And they were quoting about 2000 euros, I think, maybe a bit less for a full like, proper white van kind of size. You know, I know that there's probably terms that you're aware of right now. Long wheelbase, is that one? I think so.

Martin:
Right? Actually, I actually don't know all of these terms I'm hearing in Italian anyway, so...

Charlie:
Ah, yeah, of course. Okay.

Martin:
Yeah.

Charlie:
What, any idea, what that would be in Italian?

Martin:
Well, I mean, I say 'I'm hearing'- my wife's taking care of that stuff, so...

Charlie:
Anyway, so they were quoting this and then we actually got Stacy, my partner's parents, to hire a van from the UK, drive it over to Nuremberg. And then we packed up and then we flew them home and we drove it home because we didn't want them to do back and forth. But they were excited to do the road trip. I don't know if you've got any willing friends or family that would be willing to do a little road trip down to Sicily. With a Ferrari.

Martin:
I have actually, which is- my dad loves stuff like that, and I was actually thinking a lot about this yesterday, and the main thing I was thinking is, God, if I did that with my dad, that would be bloody brilliant podcast material, which is basically how I live my life these days. I kind of think, something good would definitely happen. I could definitely talk about that on the podcast.

Charlie:
Well, that's why you got the baby, isn't it?

Martin:
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Of course, the whole thing, that's basically why I'm moving country as well. In fact, I said this recently because- so in the last few years, well, so we bought this place in Sicily. Then we got married, then we had a baby, and then it was kind of like, Well, nothing's going on now, so we need to kind of like, shake it up a bit. So let's- let's move country. Why not?

Charlie:
Yeah. Why not.

Martin:
But so, yeah, my dad is quite willing for that, and I would like that as well. The only thing that I think is just the stress levels and as part of me thinks I would just like to pay because the good thing about some of these places, they actually come like, take down the furniture, like, take it apart, and then they put it all together and then they get there and then they put it up again.

Charlie:
Yeah.

Martin:
So that sounds good. Like I'm not really a handyman anyway. And I just, yeah, you know, I've got a lot going on anyway. And I think, do I want to be spending days of like taking- taking apart furniture and then there's lots of boxes and you get there, and then it's- I'm getting a headache, even just thinking about it,

Charlie:
Yeah, I can see. I can see the veins throbbing.

Martin:
Yeah.

Charlie:
So yeah, it's about what- how easy you want it to be for you. But, yeah-

Martin:
One other important thing actually is Germany is like mainland Europe, and the problem with Sicily is Sicily as an island. So any time we speak to someone, they immediately say it's going to cost more because you're on an island. Because you can just basically drive on land, you know, to like Calais in France, from Germany and then over you go kind of thing. But Sicily, you need- you need to- there needs to be some kind of other ferry involved at some point.

Charlie:
Yes, yeah. But I imagine there's frequent ferries going between.

Martin:
Oh yeah. That- it's not a problem. It just costs more and is, just adds a little bit more stress to it. And another new problem, which I assume you didn't have is Brexit, because there are now the Customs and you have to, you have to pay a tax on 20 percent of the value of things you're bringing over. Yeah, that's just something else that you have to pay, although,

Charlie:
Wow! So you got to pay 20 percent of your sofa's work.

Martin:
Yeah, exactly. Although admittedly, everyone that we've spoken to just says, like just declare like much less, because I mean, like the value of these goods is like second hand. So you can say, OK, like like the washing machine, for example, is only worth like five euros anyway. So. So that's only one.

Charlie:
Yeah, 20 percent of that. Yeah, OK. And then with the sofa? Yeah. Well, they won't believe you...

Martin:
Well...

Charlie:
...when you're saying that it's...

Martin:
I'm, I'm not sure how this works. I don't think they actually properly check and I don't think they're too fussed anyway. I don't think they go round with a calculator. I mean, as long as you don't, you know, like pay, like you say, like, OK, well, everything in his work probably worth about 10 euros. So I'll pay two euros taxes, as long as you pay into the hundreds. Most people have said if you pay sort of around four or five hundred euros, for like, tax. So- so essentially, you're saying what, it's like two, to two and a half thousand, like if you declare that as the total value. I probably shouldn't be saying this on a public podcast but I, just in case someone's listening.

Charlie:
In case the guys in Calais catch you.

Martin:
If they're listeners, I'm going to be screwed once I get to the border.

Charlie:
Well, it's far less likely that people from France will be listening. I don't know about you, but I don't get as many French learners. Actually, I've got a few in The Academy, so I'm telling a lie. But generally I would say ...

Martin:
Yeah, I've got a few as well. But yeah, it's a smaller number than other places in Europe, I suppose.

Charlie:
Where's- where's your...

Martin:
Poland, Russia, Italy? Obviously Italy, I think mainly because like I know lots of Italian people and they tell other people. So I would say those are the three big ones, yeah.

Charlie:
Right. Ok, yeah. I mentioned this to you a while ago. Would you- would you ever consider doing like random podcast gigs?

Martin:
Yeah.

Charlie:
In those countries...

Martin:
Yeah, why not? Again, I just think it would be- it's just something to talk about on the podcast, isn't it? It'd be a great. Well, I'll talk about it on a different podcast after. But yeah, no, it would be great. Although, yeah, the idea of someone coming to see me just talk does- I kind of think, why would anyone want to do that? But- but yeah, if people, if people are interested, then why not?

Charlie:
Yeah. But it is strange that you have that in your mind. I had that in my mind until I went to a live podcast gig here in Sydney, and I loved it. And it was a perfect like weekday evening activity to not feel hung over from the next day, but be somewhat intellectually stimulated and entertained at the same time. And I think it's, I think it's a live event that's coming a long way in the recent years. It's become a little bit...

Martin:
Yeah, I have been to one myself as well a live podcast gig at the beginning. They actually it was obviously one. I've mentioned this on this podcast before, my love for football, and it was a football podcast. It was The Guardian one, though, so that makes it sound a bit more sophisticated. Yeah. And they said, Thanks for coming to watch, like four guys that have never actually played football, talk about football. And basically, we kind of- I was like with my friend and we kind of looked at each other and were like, Why are we actually here? Like? But it was good, like you said, intellectually stimulating. I kind of felt like, Oh, like, yeah, I've just been to a like a show like Guardian sports writers have just been having a chat. Yeah, sure. That's me. Yeah.

Charlie:
Yeah, very sophisticated. Did you drink some wine with it and a board of cheese?

Martin:
No, I don't think. Yeah. I mean, it was a few years ago-

Charlie:
Or a cheeseboard sorry.

Martin:
I would imagine we had some kind of alcoholic beverage, but I can't remember what exactly.

Charlie:
So The Guardian, does that mean that you were following them before and it was their personalities that you were following or you were literally just interested in the-

Martin:
So I've been following this podcast about, The Guardian football podcast. I knew, I've been following it for years and years and years, and they were doing a live event. And like the people on the podcast were doing it. So, so we went along.

Charlie:
So they're the same people, yeah?

Martin:
Yeah, yeah. It wasn't just some randoms. Yeah. Well, I I knew them. Let's say. Not personally. I don't think they, they didn't stop and say, Oh, hi, Martin, how are you? Put it that way?

Charlie:
But they didn't invite you on stage.

Martin:
No, they didn't. Let's say they missed a trick there, though, because I could have given so much. Yeah, they didn't. Yeah, I should have said, Look, I've got podcasting experience as well. Well, I think that was before I started the podcast, because that was a good few years ago now.

Charlie:
Yeah. How long is your podcast been going?

Martin:
Recently had the five year anniversary, which are on online terms, is actually really long, isn't it? It doesn't seem like that long at all. But yeah, when I talk to other people and most people like you- yeah, I've only been doing this a year, two years. I'm kind of like, Oh, wow, I'm an original gangster now, almost, with my...

Charlie:
Oohh, five years...

Martin:
Five years, I think, yeah, there's obviously Luke's English podcast that's been going like forever.

Charlie:
Yeah, 50 years.

Martin:
Yeah, exactly. And yeah, I don't know many other people that have been, have been going for five years now. So yeah, it was, it was in January. Had the- had the anniversary. Yeah, I like always. I thought, I'm going to do something really big. It's going to be great and then you're always really busy. It comes around. And then I just had a podcast of just me talking for 37 minutes, I think. And so that was the big, the big surprise.

Charlie:
I did exactly the same one on the one year birthday. It was just me talking, yeah.

Martin:
Yeah.

Charlie:
I'm sure it's not the biggest present for the listener. So congratulations. Very impressive, five years.

Martin:
Thanks.

Charlie:
Going back to you moving to the UK. What would you say you're excited about going back to the UK for? What do you feel like you've missed in the years that you've been in Italy, that you're gagging for, in the UK?

Martin:
Well, I think the saying, as they say, 'there's no place like home' is very much true. And I mean, essentially, I haven't lived at home for, well, since I went to university. I had a year out, so I was 19 when I went to university. So it's like, so I'm like thirty seven now. So that's like nearly 20 years ago. But I mean, I've used home as like a base, let's say. So like, you know, like summers at university and other periods like moving between places, maybe have stayed like a few months, but never properly lived at home for a long time.

Martin:
And so it was just nice. Now going back with like, you just know, the area, like know lots of people because, I mean, yeah, obviously, like, I've been living abroad for a long time now and I do have friends here, but it's not the same like my friends from home. Like best friends, we've literally been friends since we were in primary school, since we were four. So it's, it's not the same, and lots of them as well now, obviously, like similar stages in our lives, have got kids as well. So like, you know, we do things with like families and stuff like that. I would say, yeah, this sort of social side of things. For example, I was going to the gym when I was in England every day with one of my friends as well. I didn't realise how cheap gyms are in England now. It's ridiculous. They're so cheap. Yeah.

Charlie:
How much?

Martin:
I started with The Gym, which was £18.99 a month.

Charlie:
Me too.

Martin:
Oh, right, OK. In Australia?

Charlie:
No. In Guildford.

Martin:
Right. Okay, but you live in. So how- are you travelling from Australia to Guildford in England to go? I mean, I know it's cheap, but when you add a flight from Australia on top of that, it probably gets a bit expensive.

Charlie:
It does add up. Yeah, no. The gym has been around quite a few years.

Martin:
Oh, has it right?

Charlie:
From I recall.

Martin:
Ok, nice.

Charlie:
Yeah. When I was back from uni, no.

Martin:
Right.

Charlie:
Before uni. Before uni, so, so it's been around since 2008?

Martin:
Right? Wow. Well, I've never heard of The Gym. I mentioned this on my podcast, whoever came up with that name. So we've got a gym. What can we call it? Right? I was trying to think of something like witty names and someone said, What about The Gym? Yeah. How did you think of that name?

Charlie:
Genius. But you know what? It actually probably works to their favour, a bit like the British English podcast.

Martin:
Right.

Charlie:
People type in 'British podcast', right? And boom, they've got it.

Martin:
They've got it.

Charlie:
Same with The Gym, 'gym near me', The Gym. Go, thanks. Sign up £18.

Martin:
Yeah. Well, so I signed up for The Gym and then I realised my friend had signed up for Pure Gym. And I thought, Oh, like Pure Gym sounds even better, it's just one hundred percent gym. It's nothing but gym. So then I signed up for Pure Gym and...

Charlie:
Are you collecting membership?

Martin:
Well, this is it because, so I was part of The Gym and then so I sign up, paid for a month there. And then I signed up for Pure Gym, like started paying there. And then I came back to Sicily and joined The Gym here. So essentially, I'm a member of three gyms. That's how much I love The Gym.

Charlie:
Well, we can't. We can't favour The Gym by saying that. That's a lot of...

Martin:
Well yeah, of course.

Charlie:
Gyms.

Martin:
Gyms. Yeah, of course. Didn't think about that. So yeah, going back to your original question, probably. Probably that is what I'm most looking forward to.

Charlie:
Excellent. Guys, this is the end of Part One. If you want to carry on and listen to Part Two and Part Three of this drivel, then be my guest. And before we end the public part, I want to say thank you very much for getting to the end of this and definitely go check out five years worth of gold on Martin's podcast Rock and Roll English. Yeah. Martin, thank you very much for being here for Part One, but we'll see you in Part Two. But say goodbye to the Part One listeners.

Martin:
Yeah, thanks everyone for listening and hope to see you in Part Two.

Charlie:
Cool. See you guys!

Charlie:
We will be leaving Part One there for today, but don't worry, we have Part Two and Three round the corner for you to enjoy. But first, make sure you utilise all of the learning resources available to you for this part. And then when ready, I'll see you in Part Two to continue the conversation. Thanks again for supporting me. This is my full time job. So here's to many more episodes of the British English podcast to help you improve your English.

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Podcast host: Charlie:
This will be quite a bit harder for you to understand, as there are a number of accents in the conversation, some poorly delivered at times, as you will notice.

Podcast host: Charlie:
But the aim is to give you a variety of dialects in one conversation and some dialogue to give you native expressions in context. So enter, if you will, to Charlie's pub and his imaginary world.

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Alright geezer, how's it going?

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Yes, I'm well thanks. How about you? Have you had a good day?

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Can't say good mate. No my old man he's been giving me a right old earful for what happened on site last week.

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Oh that's a pity. Are you back on your dad's building project again?

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Sad to say mate, but yeah, I am. Couldn't resist this one though. Cash in hand, you know.

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The academy content hones, not only on the vocabulary from intermediate to Advanced but it also packed with humour, as the host, Charlie really breaks down the expressions in every video of every episode, helping their vocabulary sink in and be used, actively in your speech.
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Written & Narrated by Harry & Charlie

Everything you need to know about using idiomatic expressions in the IELTS exam.
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