Wednesday 27 September 2017

What I miss & don't miss from the UK!

Those of you who’ve been following my blog for a while will know that I used to live in North Wales, which I think is one of the best parts of the world. After living there for more than 5 years, I came back last Christmas (stealing my boyfriend Jason from his family!), and after a short time staying at my parents around Nantes, we moved to Bretagne for a calmer, simpler life in April.

It’s really funny because I remember a conversation that I had with my friends Laura & Ben (hello there, hope you’re reading this post!) a few years back, finding it hard to find anything that was better in the UK than in France. I guess I didn’t experience the British life enough at that point, and also, now that I’m back in the country I was born with more of a grown-up point of view, I have to say I was definitely wrong in many points!

So just for fun, I thought I’d do a little list of things I miss from the UK, and obviously, others that I really don’t miss. Don’t take it too seriously as this is only my point of view. No country is perfect, and I’m only sharing my own experiences, but hopefully it’ll be quite interesting and fun to read!

Things I miss from the UK:

  • The food shows, travel documentaries and Sunday Brunch. Don’t get me wrong, French TV is not the worst and I can definitely find some good food and travel shows, but come on, the UK is doing it way better! You can’t beat The Great British Bake Off, which I watched religiously, or the 3h long Sunday Brunch show that I could not wait to watch every weekend. Although in France they’re showing more movies on the regular channels, which is great, I miss these fun, inspiring, jaw-dropping shows that we used to watch in the UK. Little side note here: I’m NOT talking about British daytime TV! That stuff is the WORST!
  • How easy the paperwork is over there. Jason has a saying for that: ‘One piece of paperwork in the UK would be 10 in France’. And it’s so very true. Everything is crazy in France. There are so many organisations and companies that you need to sort things out with, and they NEVER communicate between each other. Plus, they seem to complicate everything just for the hell of it! We’ve had proper nightmares with the French paperwork that we didn’t have at all in the UK. Both of us being freelance didn’t help much though!
  • Shops like Home Bargains, TK Maxx and B&M. In France, or at least in Bretagne anyway, the only similar shop we have is Stokomani and it’s not that great. Food and shopping in general is definitely more expensive over here and we can’t find all the good bargains and cheaper basic stuff like we used to.
  • A good old fish & chips from time to time. As I said, food is more expensive in France, but you’re also getting better, fresher food so it balances it out in the end. But there are dishes and restaurants I definitely miss from where I used to live. I miss the burgers and mac & cheese at Hickory’s and the deals at Marks & Spencer where you could get a high quality meal for two for only £10. And I almost forgot to mention the amazing choices of granola, muesli and healthy cereals that they have in the UK. In France there’s almost no choice at all! The variety of food in the UK is amazing, but the quality is not always there though.
  • British courtesy and politeness. Yes, I do miss it. People are so much more polite in general in North Wales and even though you get some rough, grumpy people everywhere, I always felt that Welsh people were nicer, polite and people actually smiled at you for no particular reason sometimes. In France, most of the time, if you smile at somebody in the shop, they’ll look at you like you’re crazy or they won’t even pay attention. Don’t know which one is worse! Oh and French people never say sorry.
  • Food festivals in North Wales during Autumn and Winter! We used to go to loads from September all the way up to Christmas. The atmosphere was always amazing, we would taste delicious food, watch great cooks baking in front of us and we always leave with something very tasty and locally made.

Things I don’t miss from the UK:
  • Obviously the weather, particularly because I was living in North Wales! I remember a year where it was grey or raining every bloody day for the whole summer and I was DEPRESSED. But then you do get use to it, and go out and about even if it’s cold or raining because otherwise you wouldn’t do much if you’re waiting for sunny and hot weather before going out of your house. Also, the mountains in Wales actually look very dramatic and moody with bad weather so it does have a certain charm. But still, I ain't made for cold temperatures and rain!
  • The expensive council tax. I’d say that the rent costs are very similar between both countries depending on where you live. If you’re in more of a rural place, you will pay less per month, and our rent in the UK wasn’t crazy, however, £100 on top every month for council tax was too much and you really don’t pay as much in France. But again, maybe it was because of the area we were living in :)
  • And whilst we’re at it, the rows of cheap post-war houses with very thin walls and rubbish insulation. I loved the house we were renting out in Glan Conwy, but you could hear everything that the neighbours were saying and the insulation was almost non-existent.
  • The typical British food that is boiled most of the time with some gravy on top of it. I never managed to enjoy it! However, I would be happy with a very good roast dinner if it’s really well done. Oh and I HATE margarine and their ‘baguettes’ that had nothing to do with a real baguette!
  • Expensive car parks. I honestly don’t remember not paying for parking somewhere except for shops in the UK. And it’s super expensive! Whilst in Bretagne and around Nantes, in the space of 9 months, we’ve only paid 3 times for parking. Once in the city centre of Nantes, and twice in the city centre of Vannes. Any other places that we’ve visited, beaches, small towns, parks, galleries, landmarks, etc. parking was free. So refreshing!
  • And last but not least, I do NOT miss carpet. British people, and the old generation more than the younger, put carpet everywhere in the house. But when I say everywhere, I mean even on the stairs! Madness. We’ve even seen carpet in bathrooms and around toilets! I’ve always hated it, but I was surrounded by it for 5 years, so I never want to see an entire house covered in carpet again.

I would be so curious to know if you guys have some other suggestions? Anybody else miss something from a place they used to live? Do tell me!

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