Monthly Archives: April 2016

Ten Things I…

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Ten Things I…

OK, so really it’s five things I love about Spain and five things I miss about England. Yes, I managed to find five things I miss about overcast old Blighty. Here goes!

 

Five Things I love About Spain

1. Need I say it? The weather!! Everything looks and feels better in the sunshine; it seems easier to feel positive most of the time.

2. The attitude to drinking alcohol. Alcohol accompanies food; enhances the flavour; is a savoured pleasure. For the majority, it is not a route to oblivion.

3. The children are dressed as children, not as adolescents or even mini-adults. (3A.) The clothes they wear are really cute, 1930s style!

4. The cost of living. Everything is much cheaper than in the UK so we do not feel consistently ripped off.

5. The social life. I don’t need to book an appointment a month in advance simply to go for a drink with a friend. In fact, I can even ask them the same day that I fancy going out! Both the locals and expats are easy-going and keen to live life.

 

Five Things I miss About England

1. This one goes without saying: family and old friends. People I have a shared history with: that takes time to develop and is a huge part of who I am.

2. The English language. Sometimes it is frustrating being unable to express myself and having to plan what I want to say. I am learning, though.

3. Fruit scones with butter and strawberry jam. Despite the plethora of pastries in Spain, there is nothing like a soft, sweet, English scone with a pot of Yorkshire Tea. Aaaah, yes…

4. The English countryside, especially North Yorkshire. There really is nowhere else like it. But unfortunately for me, the copious quantities of rain required to keep England so green have been enough to push me rather far south to sunnier, drier climes.

5. The cosiness of a winter night at home, watching a film while sipping a dark red wine. This is one of the very few things I enjoy about an English winter. However, in Valencia the year round sunshine and warmth obliterates the concept of cosy. Our bright, airy apartment is certainly homely, but cosiness requires the cold and dark. Fortunately for me, the sunlight more than compensates for the absence of cosiness.

So there you have it, a fairly balanced view expat life? For me, for now, Valencia is where I am happiest.

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All the small things

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All the small things

OK, after nearly three months in Valencia I am going to indulge my British side and write about the Brits’ favourite topic (after drinking stories): the weather. After all, the weather is about 75% of the reason that we moved here. For anyone reading this who has never been in England during the ‘summer’, let me explain.

In the summer we Brits spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to work out what to wear, because summer doesn’t necessarily mean ‘warm’, and it certainly doesn’t mean ‘sunny’. I have had international students ask me at midsummer, “Teacher, when is it the summer in England?” 

“It’s now,” I sigh, “this is the summer.”

So, what you choose to wear on those rare, bright, sunny mornings might be quite unsuitable an hour later, when the rain is pouring. Your pretty sandals and summer dress won’t protect you then. So the next day, you don your skinny jeans, only to be roasting in the midday sun a couple of hours later. It sounds ridiculous, but it can be stressful. You are often uncomfortably aware that you have made the wrong choice; and you’ll spend the rest of the day regretting it. Compare this with Spain, where hot and sunny will last from morning til night. When you get dressed in the morning, you will always make the right decision because the sun will always beam its hot rays rays all summer long.

The sun brings simple, yet stress-easing freedoms. For example, there is no such thing as wet washing hanging around the house for days because it’s too wet or cold to hang it outside. In Spain, put it outside and it will dry the same day, or on a couple of hours if it is summer. There is also the freedom of knowing that it makes no difference if the sun is shining while you are stuck inside teaching or number crunching. It will still be beaming when you finish in the evening, as it will tomorrow, the next day, all weekend and the all the weeks of summer. You will not miss out, as you would in the UK, where it might shine intensely for a couple of hours, then vanish as you leave work, not to be seen for another week. In Spain, there is no rush to get outside because it is sunny. This takes some getting used to, and I am still experiencing ‘good weather guilt’. That is, I feel guilty if it is sunny outside but I want to stay in and watch a film. My inner Brit panics: you should be outside because it’s a gorgeous day!

This is why the British get sunburn, drink copious amounts of alcohol and generally go crazy on a sunny afternoon. It is human nature to over-indulge when one has been denied something for a long time. Drinks outside in the warm, afternoon sunshine are something we rarely  get a chance to enjoy in the UK. The time is precious, and pressured.

And so in Spain, a lot of small things add up to make life easier and more pleasant; and that is why we are here.