What do you miss? (or don’t we miss!)

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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!)

We don't miss the M25!
We don't miss the M25!

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!

Just another December day :)
Just another December day 🙂

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 🙂


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  1. Your lists are what I’d guess mie would be.

    Things I’d also miss though (do you?):
    Roast dinners, walking into a favoured bar where everyone knows your name, black cabs, Rat Cottage on Westminster Bridge Road…

    Oh, and Macallan. Although they do put it in the post these days..

  2. The things I missed most when in The States:
    Public transport
    British Pubs
    Fish and Chips!
    Heinz Salad Cream
    Birds Custard
    would you believe – Sherbert Dabs, you know – the yellow carboard tube with a stick of liquourice sticking out the end!

    Thank goodness for family back home to send @red Cross Parcels’ as we came to call them.


  3. LOL. Great. Funny thing is that a lot of the things you say you miss were what we ultimately missed when it came to LIVING somewhere… we missed them so much we thought we best come back and see if we could live a different kind of life in the UK. Thing is, now we miss other things. I think wherever you are – whatever you’ve got – you always miss things! The trick is to be generally happy with the lifestyle you have chosen. I need to delve a little further into your blog as would like to know what you do for a living etc… off to check out the archives now! As I said, definitely will be watching your journey with interest 🙂

  4. @Monkey – We do miss roast dinners, I missed that one – and of course I do miss the pub!

    @Rick – thanks for visiting the blog and I bet it is just a matter of time until I miss fish and chips, though we can get that a half hour drive away…I can get cider here but it is expensive!

    @Alice Thank you for following the blog – a couple of people have asked about us before so you may find what you are looking for in the answers to previous comments


  5. “8. Routine rudeness from strangers and people working in “customer service” roles.”

    That one really gets me. I went up to London with my kids during the week and was shocked at people’s ignorance, poor manners and general anti-social behaviour. I couldn’t wait to get out of there! Obviously it is not everyone, but there does seem to be a growing trend in atrocious manners and anti-social behaviour in the UK. Or is it just me?

  6. @Tony,

    No, I don’t think it is just you! At first here it was unusual to go through entire days with nobody shoving past on pavements, no groups of threatening mouthy teenagers etc. but we are starting to take it for granted a bit now. We are back in London for a couple of days next week so imagine we will really notice the contrast!


  7. Hi
    I have been reading your blog with interest, as we have a house in Tavira which we visit every month (except July and August) and to which we hope to retire to when we reach that certain age (or win the lottery). I am glad you are both enjoying Tavira and all it has to offer. i can suggest small rugs next to the bed to combat the stone floors and, our best buy ever, electric blankets from Argos. When we first bought our house, our first official visit was in February and it was perishing at night. One afternoon we spent the whole time in bed with the electric blanket on trying to get warm!! Oil filled radiators, a fan heater and halogen heater have sorted that out. Coming over after christmas for New Year. The fireworks are Fab. Saz1

  8. Hi Saz1,

    Thank you for reading! I now have a rug beside the bed! Hope you have a great time here for New Year, it could do with warming up a bit for you – it’s bright sunshine here today but only about 12degC – we have to return to London for a few days this week which is even colder apparently! We are digging down low in the wardrobe for the jumpers and fleeces we thought we wouldn’t need!

    Best wishes, Ben

  9. Celebrity culture is alive and well in Portugal. It’s just that because it’s not “our” culture we can easily filter it out. Likewise when I go back home if I don’t pick up the Metro or a red top I avoid a lot of the celebrity bombardment that I used to lap up like an eejit.

  10. Hi Tom,

    I suspected that might be the case and am glad I don’t understand enough of the language for it to annoy me. I am going out of my way to not even read the UK papers visitors being with them – my life is better for it 🙂

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