Archive for the ‘Now I Know What’s Good About England’ Category

Do Clothes Maketh a Man / Woman?

I am sure you will have heard the phrase the ‘clothes do not maketh a man’, implying that you can’t make yourself important simply by dressing so. Then there’s ‘you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear’ and ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ etc. etc.. So, we are who we are and I can live with that. Yet, I’ve just had the strangest of experiences over the last week, which remind me of a similar experience I had around 1990 and, in both of these, it was the clothes that made the memory important.

In 1990, my partner was a man who proved to be incredibly jealous and, in my job as a supervisor in a civil service office, I had responsibility for both men and women. Now, this didn’t go down well with (let’s call him) Chump, for want of a better name. As time passed, jealousy raised its head and I realised that, if I wanted to talk abut my day, Chris(topher) was going to have to be Chris(tine) and so on. I hate anything close to my neck (I always say that I must have been hanged in an earlier life ….) but ‘v’ necks were ruled out in favour of round necks, while skirts became about ten inches longer (knee-length to maxi).

When I eventually saw sense, and called a halt to that stressful and, indeed, dangerous, relationship, it dawned on me that I had indeed changed my wardrobe for clothes that I didn’t feel good in. Needless to say, when I realised this, I went back to wearing what made me feel good about myself.

Well, last week, something happened. After almost nine years of living in Spain, I now realise that I need to live in England again. When we came here in February 2006 to live in the countryside of Spain, Hubby and I said that we hoped we would never find ourselves dressing the same. Our neighbours work in the fields, old women push wheelbarrows and herd cows and, naturally, they wear old clothes day in and day out.

Well, somewhere along the line of time, I think Hubby and I both lost the plot. We stopped dressing up, my trusty high-heel steeds were laid to rest and flat shoes and baggy trousers became the norm for us both.

I think that, for me, realisation that I am in the wrong place has been happening for some time, maybe three years or so. Anything that used to seem good about living here is now cast as a negative, things I want can’t be got her in the backwater of Spain and I miss people.

We were in England last week. We bought twenty kilos of goodies to bring back to Spain, I got myself into any conversation I could possibly find, just for the pleasure and, I am pleased to say, Hubby and I started singing from the same hymn sheet as to where our future should be.

Since getting back to our home in Spain, I’ve started dressing differently, I’ve started fastening my hair up and I sought out and polished up (I chore I hate) my trusty steeds. Then, and only then, it dawned on me that my change of dress sense made me feel much more positive about the future.

So clothes might not maketh a man or woman but the right ones can definitely make you feel good about yourself.

Well, It’s Everything I Said in an Earlier Post!

Aah …. . Hubby and I have just returned from a week in the north-east area of England and I find it difficult to describe just how wonderful it has been.

What did we do?
Nothing in particular.

Where did we go?
We visited friends and family and did nothing else.

Why was it a good time?
Well, look at my earlier post to find the answer to that! Hmm …. and this post … .

Oh – and we did look at some houses advertised for sale in the estate agent windows. Yeah!!!!

The Future is Ours to Change!

For those of you who don’t already know, I am a UK lady of sixty one now living in the north-west part of Spain. I always refer to this area as the outback because, unlike most people’s ideas of Spain, which is usually of the southern tourist areas, Galicia in the north-west is countryside, it’s lakes and rivers and this area is indeed known as ‘the land of a thousand rivers’. For population and for services, I would liken this area to the Lake District. In a triangle of three villages very close to each other (Hubby and I live in one of them), so close that we can shout to each other, the population is ten. If it wasn’t for the fact that our postman’s mother lives in one of these villages, we wouldn’t necessarily get our post the day it was due to be delivered. There is no post box, no public telephone, no shop and no bar and anything I haven’t mentioned which you think we might have, we haven’t.

Public water? No. Ours comes from the hills, via a hosepipe, after having first been cleaned via a plastic pop bottle which has holes in it>

Gas? No.

Electricity. Yes but a very low potential, so we can’t do the washing and boil the kettle at the same time.

Public telephone lines? No. We would have to drive eight miles to find the nearest public telephone box.

Well, after eight years into my change feom England to Spain, I can officially confirm that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. While I was busy in the first four years, I didn’t really notice anything but, in the last four, I have.

I’ve been writing a monthly column for my local newspaper in England and, today, it dawned on me. After thirty two columns, in which I give a point to either Spain or my home town in England based on the content of my article, the score is currently at ten for Spain and twenty two for where my heart obviously still lies.

Need I say more?

It’s a strange feeling and, I suppose (and I speak through experience), rather like divorce. You put your heart and soul into it, it starts off feeling very good indeed and then, after time, that good feeling goes but without your realising that things have changed.

After a (longer) while, you start to notice things that don’t suit you. Maybe, blinded by the pleasure, they never did suit you but, after a long enough period of experience, yes, there it is, staring you in the eye.

Now, you either ignore it and hope that it will go away (that was my first reaction in the divorce), or you start to analyse what is going on (my reaction, this time). I can now liken the feeling of discomfort to what it must feel like to have a near death experience; you’re looking down on yourself and you can see what is happening but the choice for what happens next doesn’t seem to be yours. You fear an unhappy end.

Well, we’re off to England next week and, who knows, we might just look at some houses ….. .

That’s life!

The Grass is Many Shades of Green!

Take it from me that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Take my last post for instance, where I have described how I derived great pleasure from gong on holiday to a foreign country and enjoying my own culture, while I was there.

When still living in England (way back in 2005), I remember going on holiday to the South of Spain and the thing that thrilled me most was listening to a young English guy (who was no doubt on his holiday from the stresses of his job in England) making a fool of himself on the karaoke. He knew he sounded bad (…. he was little inebriated, so maybe he didn’t …..), everyone listening knew the same, so I popped across to where he was standing and placed a small amount of money at the table next to him. In true British style, he thanked me and carried on singing.

That’s belonging. It’s knowing that, all right, I can do this, as I know the response will be good. If the singe had been a foreigner, what would have happened? I don’t know but I’d like to think that my expression of applause would have been treated in the same gentle humour.

So, while you may think you have it hard and that it has to better somewhere else, take it from me that that is not always the case ……..

The World Really is a Small Place, Isn’t It?

Incredible! I’ve just had a week in Santa Ponsa in the west of Majorca and I have learnt something very valuable indeed.

But, first, let me explain.

I have lived in the north-west corner of Spain (Galicia) for nearly nine years now. For you Brits, I’d describe life as the Lake District, though some may say Cornwall. It’s quiet, it’s full of mountains, lakes and rivers and you have to get in the car to meet another Brit. If I was talking about the south of Spain, I’d probably say that you have to get in a car to find a Spaniard.

I miss things, all of which can be easily accessed in the tourist south of Spain. I miss the choice of cheeses, cakes, my choice of teabags, being able to go into a shop that sells clothes I like and, well, need I go on.

Hubby misses being able to walk into a hardware shop and get what he wants to buy, without having to supply a picture, knowing that they are going to say no.

So, you get my drift.

We were in Santa Ponsa for the last week of September and wow! The people on the table immediately to our right were from exactly the same town as us in England (about six miles in between our homes), the table after that were twenty miles from us and, later in the week, another couple arrived who had worked in our town but now lived twenty five miles away.

Oh! A home from home.

I always said, and it is still true today, that we moved to Spain for the sunshine, yet here we were, on a Spanish island, surrounded by English speakers from our own neck of the woods.

Beat that, eh?

‘One Point Ten’?

On a few trips to the south of Spain (we live thirteen hours away in the north-west area of the country), we enjoyed the occasional glance at English television, so we decided that hmm, maybe Sky television might be something we would now be interested in. Last December, Hubby spotted an advert for such a service and a young Spanish guy came to visit us. Having done his research on the internet, Hubby was able to gather some information which would help the young man and so it was for me to explain. In Spanish, I explained that we needed a satellite dish of one point nine metres, explaining that this measurement would be just a little less than Hubby’s height. The man agreed. It must be in steel. He agreed. And the angle was to be twenty eight degrees east of south.

Two weeks later, two men arrived at about half past ten in the morning. The box for the satellite dish looked somewhat small and, in Spanish, the conversation went something like this.

“We ordered a one point nine satellite dish.”
“Well, this one isn’t one point nine.”
With a smile on his face indicating that I should be happy he said, “No. This one is one point ten.”
My head tottered from shoulder to shoulder as I tried to decipher what I had just heard but I couldn’t make sense of it. My skills with mathematics diddn’t help me … .

It took me thirteen hours to work out that his one point ten was indeed our one point one (zero).

Lost in translation, I suppose!

Rain, Rain, Don’t Delay …..!

In this part of Spain, it’s either red hot sun or drought.  Now, for the average English person, that sounds good …. and it was ….. until now.

We get double the rainfall of London in the period December to April and then we may get only two or three days of rain from May to October.  So the rain that falls in those months mentioned earlier allows this part of Spain to be referred to as ‘Green Spain’. 

Keep that under your hat for now …. . 

Where we live, there are so many little villages scattered amongst the hills, that many (include our village and the two right next to us here) don’t have public water.  So, our water falls into the ground, finds its way into a big metal tank, then passes through a perforated pop bottle-cum-filter and through the hose pipes to each of the seven occupied houses in the three villages. 

Well, the last rainy period didn’t happen.  We got only a few days of rain and, though we are used to having two or three days in August without water, we are now into September and have so far been without water for five days of this month. We can’t even collect any water at a communal fountain at the top of the valley, as that has dried up as well, so we now have to drive fifteen miles to collect water at a friend’s house and buy water from a supermarket. 

We don’t know how long this situation is going to last as, without torrential rain over a period of maybe two or three weeks, I can’t see any way round it.  I comfort myself with the fact that this is not a permanent way of life but a current inconvenience … .

Warming Water for a Makeshift Shower

These things are sent to try us!