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Throughout all of last week, I kept snoozing a task to write a post about some of the good things about moving back to the UK, to balance out my previous post about things we were missing about Portugal.
Ironically, the main reason I didn’t get the post written was that I went down with a nasty bug, so all non-essential tasks got pushed into this week.
I’d forgotten about summer colds. It’s fair to say you don’t really get them in the Algarve. However, back here in the UK the weather has recently turned distinctly autumnal, and the past weekend was a total washout. I feel partly to blame because the weather turned on the day my new hammock arrived from Amazon.
So, against a backdrop of retreating “man-flu” and grey skies, I find myself writing a post that’s supposed to focus on good aspects of moving back to the UK!
Thankfully, I still find it easy to come up with plenty. Yes, we miss Portugal, as I lamented last week, but we really are enjoying life back in the UK. Years away have helped us to see the place through fresh eyes.
Here are five things we love right now:
- Beer Gardens
OK, so our beaches aren’t quite up to East Algarve standards, and the weather doesn’t really allow for much sunbathing, but we still have them, and they’re still a wonderful place to spend time.
What we DO have is beer gardens. Hundreds of them. Often with play areas and sometimes even with free bouncy castles (and having a toddler gives us parents an excuse to venture on to those too!)
We could head out to a different beer garden every Saturday and Sunday and not even scratch the surface of what’s in our local area. It’s “England’s Green and Pleasant Land” in easily digested portions – washed down with real ale or fruity cider.
The novelty of food choice in the UK still hasn’t worn off. Supermarket shopping is still a joy, and then we have the food festivals, the farm shops, the delis, the greengrocers, the bakeries, and the butchers’ shops. The other day I realised I’d gone for over a month forgetting we have a Marks and Spencer Food Hall just down the road!
When I mention this, I always seem to court controversy. Yes, there’s some choice in Portugal, but I’m not sure that people who’ve been away from the UK a while realise quite what a revolution there’s been in gourmet and artisan food.
A few recent examples: Oyster and Vinegar Crisps, made in Kent using Whitstable oysters; a honey chilli chicken dish from the local Chinese; amazing rare roast beef as part of a pub lunch; local plums that simply have to be eaten over the sink because they’re so juicy; and, at the top of the list, a salad made purely from the element-defying produce grown on our patio.
I could happily spend a fortnight in Portugal eating clams, bream, bacalhau and arroz de pato – but after six months here I’m still spoiled for choice.
My wife and I love a bit of eBay. It’s great to be able to get even a few quid back for things we no longer need, and I have now started to redouble my efforts to build my son’s legacy collection of retro vinyl records and computers!
Having full and easy access to eBay beats the expat Facebook groups for buying and selling, complete with their timewasters and daft offers. That’s not to say we didn’t have some success selling some bits and bobs before we left, but it was a rather gruelling process.
A full Sky package, complete with catch-up and “on demand.” Now TV for movies, and Netflix for everything else. AND it all just works, without messing around with Filmon and suchlike, or waiting for buffering, thanks to a sensible broadband speed!
Although we have precious little time to watch TV, we now spend that time actually watching it, rather than arsing around getting it to work.
- Things to Do
Every weekend, there are at least ten events we’d happily commit our time to, and that’s just in the local area – without even thinking about heading into London.
Yes, there are lots of things to do in The Algarve too, and I miss some of them. However, the parties and festivals tend to follow a predictable annual schedule, which after a few years starts to feel like retracing old ground.
We really miss Portugal. We’ve certainly posted enough about it! However, the above are just some of the reasons why, right now, we really like being back in the UK.
It doesn’t mean I don’t still get homesick, or that I don’t miss my friends, the weather, and the sea. But if I can come up with this much enthusiasm after a week of grey skies and coughs and sneezes, there must be something right. Sometimes you need to be away from somewhere a while to appreciate what’s good about it!
Our Moving to Portugal book is still on special offer on Kindle:
Here’s the UK link:
And here’s the US link: