It was pretty hot when I left the South of Spain this week. I mean squirt your factor-fifty on five times an hour hot. The sky had been perfectly blue and sun-filled for a full week. The sea was pretty warm, the breeze was warm, basically everything was warm. Beer cost less than a pound, and a four course dinner with drinks was 9 euro 50.
When I arrived in the UK it was raining and the train from the airport had something wrong with its engine and it smelt like burning rubber. And the guy next to me on the plane bought a cup-a-soup for £4 on the flight and when it came the cabin crew hadn’t used boiling water so the soup was tepid with lumps of undissolved goo floating in it. I mean, really.
But, then the train station after Manchester Airport is Manchester Piccadilly, and I couldn’t help the feeling that rain is a small concession to live in this metropolis. The city rose up around me with the sparkling glass of high rise and the ornate sophistication of Victorian red-brick factories. The student flooded streets, and stations full of workers and the buzz of phone conversations and busy lives.
One of the nicest feelings about going to South East Spain was the quite established British contingent there. It wasn’t all fish and chips and English pubs as I’d expected, but rather a lot of disillusioned British ex-pats and tourists enjoying the best of Spanish culture. Some of them spoke Spanish, many of them had Spanish friends, and the weather back at home was a constant conversation piece. It made me wonder about Britishness and everything.
So it rains here…and we like to moan. And we’ve got lots to moan about. So why don’t we all move abroad? We were talking to an architect this week who was overseeing a £300,000 renovation of a detached house in Bolton, and he was telling us that once it’s done it might be worth £1.4m. But why afford a house like that and buy it in Bolton and not Spain? Don’t look at me for answers because I don’t have them. All I know is the difference in living quality was obvious, yet when I rode the train through Oxford Road and Deansgate I felt happiness at being back.
So, could you move abroad?
And if not, what is it which keeps you, and all of us clinging to this miserable island, when it rains every day, even in June? Also check out what another blog says in an attempt to sum up Manchester in a few words.
I think I could keep a second home in Spain, or perhaps New York, but Manchester feels like a pair of shoes I’ve broken in, and anywhere else would give me blisters.