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I Need You …. I Really Do!
We’re a strange lot, us humans. We’re never happy with our lot and always think that someone else has got it better than us. And that’s how it started, really…. .
I was weaned on colliery culture, my dad and I fighting over the paper to be the first to look at the ‘Poultry and Livestock’ column to stock our allotment. Still, when Hubby and I opted for early retirement, we went for the thing that we didn’t have enough of in England.
Well, Spain can definitely guarantee sunshine, can’t it? Well, yeah but no but yeah. For most people, Spain is shaped like a banana and Madrid is in there somewhere. Well, that banana is where everyone goes on holiday for that beautiful sunshine and no, we’re nowhere near there. In fact, winter in Galicia in the north-west corner of Spain, some thirteen hours drive north of those tourist resorts, is incredibly cold and I’ve now experienced chilblains for the first time!
As for the fish and chip shops, Yorkshire puddings, English breakfasts and those precious English newspapers and magazines, there aren’t any. There isn’t any corned beef either … or suet … or lots of things that we need to be who we are.
And life is so different in non-tourist Spain! There are very few English people and there are no service buses, real pubs with carpeted floors, telephones that work, or any of that wonderful crack that you can expect from a friendly Brit. ‘You’re a penny short in paying for this pet but don’t worry, as I won’t start calling you till after you’ve gone!’ Gone are the smiling faces, helpful shop assistants and those nice people who hold doors open for you.
In Galicia, you don’t live in a house with all the utilities. You live in a renovated house that at some time housed the cows and never had those pipes or cables! The walls are made of metre-thick stone, there’s no double cavity (as the beasts didn’t need it), no insulation, electricity, gas, water, telephone line, nothing …..
Forget giving directions by pub names, as this is a wine region and every household seems to have its own bodega (a wine cellar), so ‘pubs’ as we know them don’t really exist. And you can’t give directions by the names of the villages either, as there are so many small hamlets and many with the same name! Even the major delivery companies can’t find the villages and a phone call (just where did they get my number from?) will have me agreeing that yes, I will pick my parcel up at the petrol station the next time I pass through that place.
As to the everyday lifestyle, so many things are ‘out’ but other things are ‘in’, like pastry made out of bread dough as they don’t truly do self-raising flour here, octopus, tea made with hot milk, a telephone service with a call centre on the other side of the planet and workmen that don’t turn up.
‘When in Rome (or, in this case, Madrid), do as the Romans do!’ Sorry, I can’t wholly agree to that. I really can’t. I’m English by birth and English by nature. Fish and chip shops, I miss you! You lovely supermarkets, please send me your free samples (please include the above-mentioned items and some bumper boxes of tea bags)! W.H. Smith and all you charity shops, oh how I need you.
I really do.
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