Making the jump over the English Channel, or as we now know it ‘La Manche’, isn’t all that far and I don’t think we could have asked for a better welcome from our new neighbours, but there are still some things we miss. It was also something the TV team from A New Life in the Sun asked us a lot too so here is my list of things I miss and things I am surprised I don’t miss:
1. Family and friends. There is no getting around it, it is not the same being 800 miles away from everyone but FaceTime and WhatsApp have been brilliant for us. WhatsApp is great because you can still get involved with the day to day banter and keep people updated quickly without needing to set aside time for a telephone call. However, neither Facetime or whatsapp work so well with my Grandma and Grandad who, being in their 90’s struggle to hear and also unsurprisingly are not too 'au fait' with social media. It was also difficult not being about for my nephew Ezra’s birth – obvs not at the actual birth – but it was truly awesome to meet him when he visited recently. Family and friends visiting is always cool because they are always relaxed and chilled as they are generally in full holiday mode! We all hope to make a visit back to the UK soon to repay the favour to those who have visited us so far and to catch up with those that have not been able to mosey down to our neck of the woods.
2. Craft beer. Not much needs to be said about this other than Beer Gonzo on Earlsdon High Street is sorely missed by myself and Marcus. What’s more is that the lads had the gall to open up a taproom out the back of the shop as soon as we left the country which is mortifying beyond belief. The cheek of it! Occasionally we stumble across a Punk IPA but we are mostly craft dry. These are truly dark times.
3. Proper curry. I speak for us all on this one, we miss our local restaurant the Blue Mango a lot. So much that the last trip we made back to the UK we brought an order back with us – a kind of bring your own take away!
4. Guilty pleasures food. A cheeky Greggs maybe, fish and chips, liquorice allsorts (a personal favourite), a Wetherspoons beer and a burger up at the City Arms (cheap and nasty though it is, it is always served with a good beer!), a kebab batch and chilli sauce, Cumberland or Lincolnshire sausages, birds eye fish fingers and cheddar cheese.
5. Marmite. Luckily my consumption of Marmite has been carefully managed (and rightfully so) but there will come a time when the last jar is empty…….this will be a terrible situation and I just hope it is not when I am in dire need of some fried eggs on toast with a generous smear of Marmite after an Espinas village event where I have ‘been forced’ to drink too much good wine and eau de vie and have acquired a little bit of a hangover.
6. The weekend. Bit of a random one but the idea of a weekend and working Monday to Friday doesn’t exist any longer – no more Friday feeling! We work to changeover days, next guests, next projects, next deadlines and so seemingly work everyday – albeit on our own terms! It is a beautiful place that we work/live in and it is a truly freeing experience working for yourself but it takes some getting used to. Living in the same place as where you work makes switching off hard to do, there is always one little job you can get on with, one more run to the bins, a bit more wood to chop, another patch of grass to mow, shutter to paint etc...We need to bring the Friday feeling back to As Plos – although that used to include craft beers, Wetherspoons dinner with friends and family, followed by more craft beers, a curry on the way home and then Marmite on toast for hangover cure Saturday - so there's work to do on that!
So onwards to things I am surprised I don’t miss:
1. Adidas outlet online. I haven’t felt the need to add to my terrible range of garish clothes since I arrived back in June 2016. A few convenient Christmas and birthday pants, socks and t-shirts have kept me ‘fresh’!
2. TK Maxx – and more specifically and less surprisingly the clearance aisle. As above, I used to spend a lot of money here as well so I have no idea how these places are still afloat! I think there is something about being out in the sticks that removes the need for new clothes as such. Either that or the need to pass it through the Tours Du Tarn committee which if it is a bright yellow puffer jacket with an embroidered parakeet on the back there is no chance – although if anyone spots one of those please immediately tell me!
3. TV. We have watched very little TV and I have to say I do not miss it one bit. The internet is wonderful for keeping us up to date with current affairs but beyond that we have watched quite a few films and box sets which is loads better than whiling away hours on end watching utter rubbish!
So there you have it, in a nutshell we miss plenty of stuff but as long as we still get regular visits from family and friends who can bring us all of the other stuff on the list above then we should be fine I reckon! Now, to reinstate the Friday feeling……...