Anyone who knows me well will tell you that I am not particularly suited to life in England. The shitty weather; the lack of light in the winter; needing to do everything early because everywhere closes at 6pm. I love living in Valencia; the lifestyle; the food; our new friends; the weather. However, having just arrived home for 3 weeks of (unpaid) Christmas holidays, the novelty of being back up north, especially in December, is reminding me of the things I really do miss about little old England and the English.
1.English manners. “Could you?” “Please,” “Thank you,” “If you don’t mind.” The direct, clear meaning issued by the over-use of the imperative in Spain certainly lets you know what’s what. But sometimes my English side craves a coating of courtesy.
2. Hot drinks I won’t say too much here; you can read my thoughts in another one of my blogs: the philosophy of hot drinks. All I need to say is: this is one thing the English really do do so much better.
3. Friendly faces. The Spanish may be a warmer, more tactile nationality, but the English smile a lot more when they are out and about. For me, a smile conveys genuine warmth. Perhaps we use facial expressions more than the Spanish because we have a greater need for personal space, which causes us to shy away from touching anyone we are not emotionally close to. Who knows?
4. Ready meals. This one is very controversial for me. As a proponent of healthy eating, home cooking and plenty of exercise, this is something of an anomaly in my list. But for that one night a week when I really can’t be bothered to think, let alone cook, I miss the wide range of delicious (some even healthy) ready meals available.
5. The sound of home. After stepping off the plane, the first time I hear a Mancunian or Lancashire accent is like a warm welcome-home hug from England herself. The sound of the accents of my childhood; the reminder that I don’t have to enunciate and I can say “yous” or “it’s bloody Baltic” or “Alright, Our Kid!” Yeahhhh 🙂
So there you have it. An odd list, but it’s always the small things. Still, worry not, Valencia. In three weeks’ time I’ll be craving tapas, sunshine, late opening hours and the ease of daily life in a Mediterranean city. And when I arrive back in Spain, I’ll be happy to be home again, breathing in the sunshine.