I’ve just spent a couple of weeks in the UK and had a wonderful time but after the initial euphoria of seeing family, green grass and animals in fields (just grapes where I live) I began to realise that there are more reasons why it now feels different. So, instead of the usual ex-pat ramblings about how much I miss Marmite, traditional sausages and Andrex toilet paper (and I can honestly say I only miss one of the three), here are a few thoughts on what I have been missing while away from France:
- The weather – no longer funny!
- Driving fast – The French take speed limits very seriously and woe betide you if you drive more slowly. (The car behind often helps out by almost touching your car boot to encourage you to speed up). I often struggle to take bends at the designated speeds and am occasionally nervous about hurtling along vineyard routes at 70kmh, but it is fun!
- Sunday closing – In the UK it is hard to tell what day of the week it is. I no longer feel the need to visit DIY stores, buy furniture and do my grocery shopping on a Sunday. There’s always online shopping if I get desperate...
- Strawberry Tic-Tacs – Have not yet seen them UK shops. Delicious.
- Being stared at – This is not rudeness but a way of life here. Frenchmen stare at women (not in an ‘ogling’ way but just because they are pre-programmed to do this) and Frenchwomen stare at women and silently judge their fashion sense. Occasionally you get a nod of approval. In the UK I am invisible.
- Christmas – I heard that Tesco set up its’ Christmas aisle at the end of August. In France we tend to celebrate Christmas only in December.
- Greetings - Walk into a shop and you will be greeted, walk into a restaurant and you will greet the other diners, walk into the Post Office and you will greet the people already waiting. Try this in the UK and people will think you are strange.
- French television – OK I was joking. Not everything is better in France!