A reader of my blog asked me the what I missed about the UK since I moved. I have been meaning for some time to post a “negatives” list to balance out all of the sunshine and new experiences, so here it is! People back at home in the cold and rain could be forgiven for thinking we have just embarked on an eternal holiday when they see the photos and blog posts, but the fact is that you do still have to deal with all the day-to-day crap that comes up (well most of it!)
SO: Here is what we miss so far:
1. UNDERSTANDING: When the people at the town hall refuse to give you a fiscal number, or your mobile internet stops working, or you miss a delivery from the postman and get a card through the door, you take in for granted in your home country that you understand what do about it, and know how to complain if necessary. This is not possible when you only understand a smattering of the language. We wish we had had more time to get ahead with the language before we came. You start out reasonably intelligent, get on a 2 hour flight and when you get to the other end you become rather stupid. Quite a strange feeling.
2. CENTRAL HEATING: Friends in England don’t seem to believe us but in the Algarve it gets cold at night – and when you are in a house with tiled floors, designed to keep the heat OUT, it can get really bloody cold. Air conditioning heats individual rooms very well, it doesn’t ever make a house feel cosy and toasty when you walk in. This one surprised us.
3. FOODS: Taramasalata and poor quality sausage rolls from Greggs – that’s it so far.
4. FRIENDS: I was starting to tire of Facebook, Twitter etc. in the time running up to our move, but these things become a real lifeline when you are thousands of miles away. There are still times though, once a week or so, when you really miss human contact with the people who have known you for years. I don’t this this will ever change.
At this point in typing the post I have had to call my wife to ask for ideas. The fact is for me that is it. After ten minutes of intense thought, all she has come up with is: “the potential for snow at Christmas,” “stepping onto a carpet when getting out of bed in the morning,” and “electrical sockets that don’t spark when you unplug something.” We both agree that we are scraping the barrel for ideas and that it is a lot easier to come up with things we don’t miss!
So: here is a quick list of the things we DON’T miss!
1. Traffic – and just the general amount of time it can take to do what should be simple things in London.
2. Celebrity Culture.
3. Greedy, money focussed London city types.
4. Overpriced, poor quality food (apart from Greggs sausage rolls!)
5. Extortionate Council tax.
6. Wine that costs more the 3 euros.
7. Darkness, rain, wind, sleet, hail etc.
7. Being in a perpetual rush.
8. Routine rudeness from strangers and people working in “customer service” roles.
9. Paying for parking.
10. Overpriced public transport.
11. Our old neighbours awful piano playing.
We have hardly had to think to come up with those eleven and we could go on! But I think you probably get the picture, we love it here so far, feel almost constantly lucky and thankful, and, so far at least, we wouldn’t change a thing