Thursday 12 July 2007

You miss the little things the most ...

If you have always lived in the same place (be it same county, same town, same country, whatever), you end up taking many things for granted. You also probably end up noticing the negatives about where you are rather than the positives.

Being an expat (oh no, I said it, does that mean I am one??), I have learned that it is only when one leaves one's home country that one truly appreciates little aspects of the way of life that one now pines for. I appreciate this is not the case for everyone, but it generally is for me.

The little things I miss about the UK / Scotland are, in absolutely no order at all:
  • newspapers. Yeah, you can get newspapers here too, but they are either very regional (and a bit parochial if I may say), or far too serious (national dailies like Le Monde or Le Figaro are unreadable for a poor foreigner like myself). I miss The Scotsman (er, what was I saying about being parochial?), The Independent. I miss Sunday papers that have so many supplements it takes you until the following Sunday to read them all.
  • curry. Love curry. Love going out for a curry. Cannot be done in France. At least, not in the part of France where I am. And the rare French Indian restaurants (OK, 2 then) I have visited don't serve Cobra beer. How I am supposed to enjoy my jalfrezi if there's no Cobra? Note to Matt - you need to find a good curry place in Rotheram!
  • my family.
  • hilly countryside. I grew up in a fairly hilly place. I spent many summers in the Lake District. I like gradient in my landscape. Here the countryside is flat. It's a bit boring. But I guess living in the Alps would solve that one.
  • being able to get a decent cup of tea in cafés/restaurants.
  • Sainsbury's (how sad am I??). I can't explain it, but the Sainsbury's supermarket experience is just different from the Auchan supermarket experience. Not the same at all.
  • Waterstone's. This one is self-explanatory. But I'll explain it anyway. French books are rubbish. Even ones translated from English. They are written in some 13th century tense called the past historic and it's offensive. Imagine having to read everything in Chaucer's English. Would be tiresome. Also, French paperbacks are unattractive. The typeface is too small and the covers never look enticing. And they are expensive.
  • bacon. Cooked breakfast. Baked beans.
  • the long summer evenings. When the weather is good, where better than Scotland in June? The evenings last forever. And the twilight barely has time to fade in the north west before daybreak creeps over the eastern horizon.
  • the M&Ms (they know who they are), boy Nicklas...
  • M&S food to go. Good thing I don't have access to their salads because my bank manager would be demanding I give my money card back immediately.
  • people knowing how to queue properly. I think anyone who has spent any time in France will appreciate this.
  • men in kilts!
  • childhood "references" - school friends (well, those I still see), the house where I grew up, even grotty Dalkeith! No actually I don't really miss Dalkeith. Not much.
  • John Lewis (big consumer theme going on here!!)
I'm sure there are many more of the little things, Hubby should keep a list! But it can't be all that bad because I'm still here after all these years.

In the interests of fairness and equality, and if you can be bothered to decipher my French, I've done a corresponding list of French things I would miss here.


Anonymous said...

I'm with you there, Lis. It's only when I left the UK that I really felt British/ English... (probably because it always comes up when you meet someone new) and appreciated all the things that my home country has to offer. That's not to say I don't appreciate France and many things about French life, too.

Lis of the North said...

I too appreciate France and French life. I mean, I must otherwise I would have escaped long ago. But it's true that you feel somehow more "patriotic" when living abroad. A bit of the rose-tinted specs syndrome probably!

Anonymous said...

What do I miss?
Curry, co-op houmous, tattoos, hmv, ice-cream vans.
Quote from Jez:
"Did you know we have a new prime minister?"

Lis of the North said...

Heheh ice cream vans, good one :)
Yessss, our "new" PM and our "new" government. Maybe he will end up calling a snap election...?

Anonymous said...

Curry, curry , curry....Just salivating thinking about it. I miss that too. I missed it so much on my last trip home bought lots of Patak's paste and coconut cream, to make it here. Not the same but adequate substitute!!! Most of your miss lists are mine too :-)

Lis of the North said...

Oh sugar, I get Patak's curry paste too! They do indeed make a good substitute, but I still gorge on curry when I go home ;)