If you move to the United Kingdom, you'll soon notice socialising is a little different. We've met lovely Brits; friendly, funny and generous. But we've never been invited for a home-cooked meal in the cold winter months, it just doesn't seem to be the way things work here. Everything revolves around the local pub - that's where you'll share dinner.
It's almost as if the local pub is a communal living room. You can't walk around a corner without spotting another establishment; quaint, cosy and charming. Many of them have funny names involving foxes, cocks or badgers. Most are old and cramped with quirky decor. But that's part of the charm. The local pub is the cornerstone of the social fabric in the UK, which is why it's so important to find one to your taste. Because, try as I might, I just can't get used to warm ale, mushy peas and television screens showing nothing but football.
So if you're near Finsbury Park but don't give a toss about Arsenal, head to the Faltering Fullback. Tucked away on a quiet residential street, the Fullback is a hidden gem.
Appearances are deceptive with the Fullback. You walk inside to find a quintessential sports pub. Plenty of cold beers on tap, little round tables surrounded by stools, sports gear hanging from the ceiling, TVs in the corner. So far, so good. A good place to have a quiet pint, but perhaps too small to be comfortable on a busy night. But look a little further and you'll see a second bar and more tables, then a door labelled the "Sin Bin". This opens to a cavernous room with a dozen picnic tables, a TV projector and a pool table.
Thousands of soccer-mad fans were pouring into nearby Emirates Stadium to support Arsenal, but the only sport to watch in the Fullback was rugby with Ben Botica (Frano's boy) slotting penalties for Harlequins. And if drunken English sports fans cheering a kick-fest isn't your thing, yet another door opened to the outside world. A proper beer garden with several tiered terraces gave us plenty of room to stretch out and pretend we were drinking on our decks back in sunny Auckland.
When it comes to drinking warm English ales, plenty of beer snobs will say "when in Rome". Rubbish. There were plenty of cold beers on tap at the Fullback and not just Fosters, including some tasty Belgian and German lagers. And sometimes it's okay to have a Heineken.
THE FALTERING FULLBACK
19 Perth Rd, Finsbury Park, London
Closest Tube station: Finsbury Park