Okay, the other day I posted a picture of the empty road as we made our way up to the coast. It was a Bank Holiday here in France – the first of many in May and the kids were off. We took two with us and left one at home. We had a nice wander at a Vide Grenier/ Brocante in Beauchamp before heading on up the coast to Saint-Pair-Sur-Mer.
Another facebook friend of mine had taken a picture of her location (much further south in France) and remarked at the lack of traffic. Being highly original and thinking “oh yeah!” no traffic on a Bank Holiday I did the same. Another facebook friend jokingly remarked “how on earth will you manage?!”. I replied that I did still miss Chinese/Indian take-aways and this got me thinking about my smug post on very little traffic.
What do I actually miss about the UK as opposed to what I love about France. So, without further ado here’s my list and its not comprehensive and could be subject to change at any moment depending on my mood.
1. Take Away Deliveries
Not that I need to be eating any (see previous post on getting fat in France) but it has to be number one. Right on up there. Take-aways. I’m talking about deliveries. Now I live in ruralish Normandy. I’m sure the bigger town, which is 20 minutes away, will deliver a pizza. The French fast food of choice. But when was the last time anyone got pizza delivered in the UK? That’s so 80s. Is Pizza Hut still in business even? I remember everyone queuing up in Crawley town centre when I was 15 to experience a deep pan. #matron.
The thing with a take-away delivery is that it just tops off a great day. You get back from a day out or you just have a rank meal planned on that day, you turn to your other half and say “fancy a take-away?” No one says no to this do they? Those words would feel me with a brief level of excitement. For these reasons 1) I didn’t have to cook 2) no washing up pots and pans 3) someone was going to knock on my door in about an hour and hand me my dinner. What’s not to like? So yes, when I go back to the UK my favourite request is to have a take-away delivered as I can have a 3 course meal out here any day of the week.
2. The Weekend/Sunday papers
But not just the Sunday papers, the daily newspapers. I would read one everyday and swap it over for Mr Normandy’s paper in the evening. I’ve always read the newspapers and the weekends were great for the supplements etc. I don’t read the news articles or features on line as it’s not the same. I also find you miss seeing some great images and though provoking articles to discuss. Whilst I do watch British and French news, you can’t beat the national papers. La Manche Libre doesn’t cut it for me. It’s not a major thing but when I’m back I hoover up the dailies.
3. Real Anglo Friendships
Okay this one is tricky as I do have a couple (literally!) of friendships. But I would say I have acquaintances here in Normandy. Although to be honest I’m quite content in my own routine and company. It suits me just fine. I’ve always got stuff to do. I pretty much do what I did in the UK. Our lives haven’t changed dramatically in that regard i.e up at 7am kids, school run, clean, work, chores, a walk, school run, tea, homework, wash up sit down about 9pm. Repeat.
People are guarded here and rightly so in many cases. There is a cover up. A mask of what lies beneath. You can feel it.
Because of this genuine friendships are never really going to be forthcoming.
There are many takers here or as another person reassuringly said “watch out for the scum!”. Friendships are made on the back of them wanting something from you. It is invariably ‘friendship’ on their terms. I use this word loosely. There is a falseness about it. My gawd people can be so false here. No ones being candid anytime soon. Although when you meet new people at a gathering they generally start with how great they are, life, money etc and by the end of the sentence have totally contradicted themselves while you mmm and nod away.
‘Friends’ who are keen on you one minute and then you don’t hear from them the next. It’s not personal and it speaks more about them that it does you. Some are chasing their tail, are busy doing what I’m doing above, stressed, depressed and are probably just as weary of exactly the same thing I have mentioned above.
I have a friend (yay!) who has seen many people come and go so investing in those friendships can be fruitless. Also you need to be aware of people that have fallen out with people and speaking of others badly – invariably you will be on the fall out list and your ears will be burning in some corner of the Manche very soon!
You don’t get that in the UK as much. Clearly there are gossips and he said she said tales but you still know the people you can trust. You can relax into friendships and let them develop. Here its not happening. Acceptance of that is key.
So yes. I miss true, genuine friendships with English speakers. Time to get myself a French friend.
4. Creativity in schools
Don’t get me wrong the kids go to a lovely school but I miss the UK creativity in schools. For all the cut backs, the shortages and challenges of the fractured society and the fall out from that – we have amazing teachers. Teachers and assistants that are highly creative and come up with novel ways of making learning fun. Art in a UK primary is making a Tudor house out of lolly sticks and a shoe box and then setting fire to it to recreate The Great Fire Of London. I miss this for my youngest. Art here is colouring in and not going over the lines. There is no glitter, glue and a mess being created. I understand that clubs and what not are for this on a Wednesday and not the school’s responsibility as such but I think its a shame. Mental note to self do creative stuff at home.
5. The Language
Yes this is a fairly obvious one but being able to say what you want, when you want is something you don’t even think about. To be able to phone the insurance company, to re-arrange something, to talk to the doctor and articulate exactly what you want to say. You do get used to expressing yourself with less words and preparing conversations beforehand if its a meeting etc. Overall it doesn’t have a massive impact on your life but you do miss out on the general chit chat to strangers. I’d talk to anyone me and that would be my next goal – to come out with random nonsense as I excel at that in English!
What do you miss, if anything about the UK?
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