We miss the rain, gloom, and cloud – but that’s great because that’s why we came here! Other than that, not very much really.
I knew Kevin years ago. He was and probably still is a lovely man. A Geography teacher who wrote poems and made maps. He visited Peru and the Hindu Kush of Pakistan. He was into mountaineering and ice camping and he lovingly restored his big stone house in Crookesmoor, Sheffield. Back then he had a girlfriend called Barbie who looked like Buffy St Marie in her prime but they broke up and he found a different life partner called Troy. He never had any kids.
After taking early retirement from Geography teaching in Sheffield, around 2005, Kevin and Troy went to live in the Almeria region of southern Spain where they bought a country property and restored it. There they grow vines and vegetables and enjoy a sunny, expatriate life, a long way from home. Kevin, by the way, was raised in grim Grimsby on the northeast Lincolnshire coast.
Out in Almeria, Kevin spent a couple of years researching the geography, history and culture of his new home area and drawing from that research wrote a book about it. It has been moderately successful and that is why Kevin was interviewed for a website called "Spain Buddy" which appeals to Spain's large British expatriate community. The blue opening to this post was copied from that interview.
Tongue in cheek he says that they miss the rain, gloom and cloud..."other than that, not very much really". This is the crux of today's blogpost. It's not the first time I have encountered expats claiming that they don't miss anything about their homelands. To me it is as if they are partly justifying their new lives - renouncing what they once knew. I find this attitude as hollow as it is disloyal.
Perhaps Kevin could have said..."I miss the ambience of English pubs where I spent many happy hours with friends quaffing good English beer. I miss the smell of roasted chestnuts on cold winter nights and the sounds of fireworks on Bonfire Night. I miss the traditional folk music sessions I was in the habit of attending with my Irish bodhran. I miss the distinctive seasons and walks in The Lake District ticking off The Wainwright hills, kayaking in the Western Isles and rambling in The Peak District. I miss English humour and the ability to communicate fluently in my own language where ever I go.. Meat pies and Yorkshire puddings, Indian curries and saltmarsh lamb, apples and raspberries and ice cream cones. Above all I miss the byways of my childhood and of my youth - imbued with memories of yesteryear, mum and dad, my siblings, neighbours and friends and Grimsby Town F.C.. Yes - those are the things I miss."
And I would also take issue with the reference to rain, gloom and cloud. That does not sum up English weather at all in my experience. We have many sunny days and warm spells and even as I write this blogpost it is bright and alluring outside. The randomness or unpredictability of English weather could be seen as one of our assets, You never know what you are going to get. Getting scorched on an Almerian hilltop might be seen as somehow less appealing.
Starting a new life elsewhere surely does not mean that you must disparage your motherland. Treachery has many forms.