Sunday, November 12, 2006

Uk vs France - The finale

From Monachyle Mhor we're on our way to Menston via Berwick. In the rain! Its pelting down much of the way. We're driving via the East & Berwick so we can find & stop at Linda's brother Eddie's grave. This turns out to be more difficult than we thought given the directions we have from Olivia, Linda's sister. Eventually, I do find it at the second graveyard we try & its not a white headstone, but a black one. Oh well, Rupert has a great time chasing around in the rain. While Linda is having a little cry at Eddie's grave I find some beautiful roses in the trash bin & bring them over. Linda's sure I stole them from another grave! No! No! I say & the tears turn to a laugh. Given his wit & wonderful sense of humour Eddy would have loved this whole scene. Linda feels better.
We have a nice family visit with the relatives; the ladies shop & Derek & I do some walking. Tea at the famous Betty's Tea Rooms in nearby Ilkely and a visit to a very upmarket farm shop called Wheaton's in Harrogate. Sunday and we're on our way home. Only two major traffic jams on the way down to Dover. Thankfully its Sunday! The tunnel is good again & we're back in France without showing a passport, dog or human.
We get lost trying to find our hotel! Its all the fault of the blessed 'deviations'; we're doing fine until we hit one & all of a sudden in the dark none of the signs point to anywhere we want to go. We call the hotel & the owner gives directions, sort of. We follow these & we're closer; we call again. As we arrive the hotel owner is standing at the gates to make sure we don't miss the hotel. This is service, we get a warm welcome & a very nice dinner.
An early breakfast & we're heading home, but priority #1 is a gas station. We're really low ( damned if I was going to buy any more of that expensive English stuff!), just try to find a station when you need one. In the nick of time a monster Carrefour appears; not only can we fill up its the cheapest in France. I feel vindicated. We now have a long, but uneventful trip home. The weather is good, the roads are clear we're glad to be back in France.

Some final thoughts:

- As a vacation this trip was good. We had fun, saw relatives, ate pretty well and had a super time in Scotland.

- We could never ever go back to England to live. Just too crowded; too hectic and too stressed out. Lovely people if they have the time to stop. Great to be speaking one's native language. Nice, but full, countryside. Nope; A nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there. Confirmed Anglophile that I am I never thought I'd hear myself saying that.

- How do they afford it? We found the prices of almost everything far more expensive than in France. Food. Gas. Housing. Everyday things all seem to be somewhat outrageous. I'm out of touch with Uk salaries, but they've got to be really high to live comfortably in an economy as expensive as this.
We didn't eat out as much as planned simply because we found all of the restaurants overpriced in our eyes. Even humble fish & chips for two seemed to be 12-15 Euros.
I just don't get it. Maybe it seems expensive because we're on a retirement income, but we're hardly poor.

- We also got an earful of medical system woes from virtully everyone we talked to. Medical care seemed to be either too slow or too expensive.
I've got to believe from a whole pile of evidence that the system works better in France. Important as you get older.

I hope you've enjoyed these musings. I enjoyed writing them. I still love England and the English. I'll go back again - on vacation!

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