Sunday 03 November, 2013 by Uncle Spike
As I mentioned recently, there is a new feature starting up on Uncle Spikes Adventures… namely the role of occasional Guest Writers.
Uncle Spike is absolutely thrilled to be writing this intro to what is the inaugural Guest Writers post on my blog. My specially invited first guest is the established travel author and highly successful blogger; Andrew Petcher.
A couple of weeks ago I was delighted to receive an invitation from Uncle Spike to be a guest writer on his blog site and his challenge was: “Put simply, having travelled extensively, where would you move to tomorrow, if you had the chance (however impractical).”
Well, this was a rather difficult challenge because I used to think that it might be nice to sell up and go and live abroad but as I have got older and especially since acquiring grandchildren I have largely abandoned the idea. The main reason for this is that I wouldn’t want to end up in a British ex-pat condominium and I imagine that living remotely outside of this world like Gerald Brenan in the Alpujarras Mountains in Andalusia would bring its own set of problems.
I have come to terms with the inescapable fact that I am English not Spanish or French and my character, behaviour and whole way of life is the result of an English heritage that, even if I wanted to, I could not lay aside and forget, reinvent myself like Madonna and become something that I am not.
I once thought that living in Spain would be wonderful but I do not have a shred of Latin heritage and I realise now that although I can go there and join in the evening paseo I cannot actually be a part of it and would always be forever on the fringe, I can go to a bullfight and experience the occasion but I cannot understand it and I can enjoy the Santa Semana but I cannot join in because I am Northern European Protestant, not Spanish Catholic.
“A Nation (and its people) is an organised community with its myths, its rituals and its ways of behaving, its common history, imagination and beliefs” – Sami Naïr (Algerian born French political philosopher).
My worst nightmare would be to join the nearly one million ex-pat British who live in Spain in a ‘groundhog day’ existence along the Spanish Costas, hoping to discover a new way of life but forever slipping back into the old and finding comfort in organising tea parties, going to English pubs, ordering Lincolnshire sausages and jellied eels on line, forever comparing the size of their patios and in the most extreme cases organising Morris Dancing afternoons. And I haven’t made that up because I exactly that in an ex-pat site for British people living in Gibraltar where I also saw that the residents of the Overseas Territory in a recent social media poll voted themselves in to sixth spot in a ‘worst place to live in Britain’! I dispute that Gibraltar is part of Britain but that is a different subject.
I think also that I wouldn’t want to accused to be part of a cultural revolution that has changed beyond recognition various parts of Spain; as Norman Lewis summed it up in ‘Voices of the Old Sea’: “By the end…it was clear that Spain’s spiritual and cultural isolation was at an end, overwhelmed by the great alien invasion from the North of money and freedoms…and slowly, as the foreigners poured in, its identity was submerged, its life-style altered more in a single decade than in the previous century.”
So I am happy with life now and do not yearn for something different and let’s face it lots of people across the World would be pleased to be able to live in the United Kingdom.
But I haven’t completely given up on the idea now I have another plan. When I travel or visit another country it always irritates me when I see a poster advertising something that happened last week, before I arrived, or will take place next week, after I have gone home, so I think I could be happy to live for a while, say twelve months, in a different country so that as an observer I could enjoy everything that takes place over the course of a year in that town or city.
And so I return to the original challenge – “where would you move to tomorrow” and although my answer would be that I wouldn’t move anywhere permanently if I were to commit to my alternative plan I think I would choose Girona in Catalonia where I visited earlier this year and sat over a beer and contemplated living there.
Writing about her time in Girona in the 1950s Patrice Chaplin wrote in ‘Albany Park’: “We waded out at the edge of the sea to a fishing village and it was so lovely we promised to go back and stay. When I did go there, ten years later it was unrecognisable. Only the name remained of what was once so exquisite” and she could probably just as easily been writing about Girona because although in the commercial part of the city the roads were busy, people were rushing and the shops were brash down by the river Onyar and the characteristic Jewish quarter I like to think that I came across something timeless and also something that she would certainly be able to recall.
So I would be very happy to place Girona on the top of my short list of potential places to temporarily relocate to. Later that day I walked past a famous statue of a lion climbing a pole and there is a story that if you reach up and kiss it on the bottom then one day you will return to the city so I walked across and took out this particular insurance policy.
written by: Andrew Petcher
These are Andrew’s blogs which
are well worth checking out:
Many thanks Andrew for taking the time. As for my fellow bloggers and bloggees, I really hope you guys n gals enjoy this wee break from Uncle Spike – it’s intended to be a regular slot, perhaps twice a month; see what you think, eh?