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comments iconDay 108 (22 July): Flying the Flag

 

Total distance:2853.88 kms/1772.99 miles
Daily fund:11,348.08 gbp+784.00 cny
Total fund:52,454.46 gbp+174,308.53 cny

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We arrived into Barra Mansa late last night after a long and difficult walk from Resende. One of the great traveller tools of the modern era is the Trip Advisor App. Often it shows up places to stay that aren’t listed on other web-sites and its recommendations for places to eat can take the risks out of arriving in a new town.

Sometimes the recommendations, which are all made by customers giving their honest feedback, are too far away and so we will stay in our hotel room and Xuelin will make me a bowl of noodles which always gets my top rating!

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Last night however we saw that the #1 place out of 399 places to eat in Barra Mansa was just 0.7km away from our hotel and it was a pizzeria called ‘Sabhor & Lenha’. It was just paradise a great atmosphere, a menu we recognised, friendly and helpful staff and all cooked in an open fire oven which gave a wonderful traditional and authentic feel. It was started by a couple who had been working in a pizza business in Boston, USA.

Having stayed on in Barra Mansa another day to work on preparations for the conclusion of the walk in Rio next Friday Xuelin as said that if I can do one more blog then we can go back there this evening….this will be quick….

One of the things I notice in all countries but especially in China (on last years walk) and in Brazil this year is how often we see the UK national flag on goods, clothes, cars and trucks. It always brings a smile of pride as I want to say ‘I live there–that’s my country.’ I am proud of my country. Most people are. It is interesting though that its flag has become an emblem signifying something that people want to be associated with but what are they. A marketing person might call them ‘brand attributes’ of the Union Jack..

When I was growing up in the UK often we would want to wear clothes with the American flag on it. I suppose to us America just seemed like the coolest place on the planet at the time. The adoption of the British flag has I think replaced it. Does that mean that people think that Britain is ‘cool’? Perhaps but I think there are some other explanations.

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The British flag on the back of Land Rover cars here. Land Rover are a popular car in Brazil and they have just opened there largest car plant outside the UK in Brazil a couple of months ago to capitalise on that increasing demand. I walked past their plant in Itatiaia only a few days ago. The brand of Land Rover says ‘solid, reliable, craftsmanship’ which is not the same as ‘cool’.

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The British flag is also found on furniture. It is found on t-shirts. It is found on iPhone cases. It is found on motor cycle crash helmets. Most surprisingly of all I  Brazil it is painted onto the front bumper of many trucks.

The Union Jack which is the name for the British was designed in 1801 and was the product of the union of Great Britain and Ireland. It had the red cross of St George, patron saint for England, the red saltire cross of  St Patrick for Ireland and the colour blue from the flag of St Andrew, patron saint of Scotland (sorry, not sure what happened to Wales and St David).

It is a very nice flag and the fact it honours three Catholic saints will of course endear it to the great nation of Brazil. We probably do have the best flag but to be fair I think La Marseillaise the French national anthem has the best tune and lyric.

Time is running out, so what are the other reasons why people use the British flag to associate with. I believe one of the key reasons must be the English language which is the global language of popular culture, trade, commerce and the Internet. English language films and programmes are popular for learning the language. The language is also associated with education a great British export in demand around the world.

It also about trusted media sources which the BBC is frequently cited as No1. It is about sport with the Premier League being one of the largest sporting brands in the world. I think that it is also that people see Britain as a rock of stability in a sea of global instability and a respect for the Royal Family. I know it isn’t because of our weather or our cooking–though both are changing, the weather faster than the cooking.

I hope people see that Britain is an outward looking and welcoming nation, open to the world. This is what the annual surveys of global attitudes show when Britain is frequently ranked as No1 in international soft power.

What ever the reason I am always proud to see the British flag make an appearance because it fills me with pride but also because it shows the things we hold dear freedom, fairness, enterprise, history, creativity and education are things which are widely shared and admired.