Another year. Another month in Spain ends.

Just long enough that the glimpse of another culture unsettles me, leaving me wanting change.

To live and work there. To think and dream and speak in another language.

Never to see another tub of Bisto or Tetley tea bag or square sausage or jar of marmite. To drive on the left; to never use the inside lane on a roundabout and to negotiate the swarms of mopeds with insouciance. To order uno cafe solo – and it be mellow in my mouth. To Toot! without thought. To be so used to heat that you forget you’re warm but to enjoy cold showers.

To be amazed by the ant routes on walls and pavements and gardens. To be less amazed by ant burglaries – sweeping their lines out of kitchen and lounge and hallway and swearing you’ll invent an effective repellent.

To sleep with windows wide open and gaze at the darkest sky through mosquito blinds and have the local sponger-cats sit on your sill and serenade you for scraps.

To rest midday and embrace a nocturnal community.

To inhale the neighbouring cooking smells: oil and smoked paprika; chorizo; chicken stock; croquettes; gambas; tortilla. Evening air fragrant and savoury.

I visit for a few weeks. Of course I’m enchanted by it all. By definition I have escaped from my own everydayness – the drudgery of work and routine; the rain and the cold; the wrapped-up-in-must-do that is the rest of my life.

For a few weeks I get to rest when I want. I get golden honied light and the warmth of the sun. The freedom to visit new places – to do the touristy things I don’t do in my own home country. To taste and cook new foods and hear a new and musical language. To glimpse another way of doing and being.

This year the proximity of the French Border meant frequent trips over the Pyrenees. Sorties into Carcassonne and Narbonne and Perpignan. The memory of school French stronger with every visit.

And the position close to Girona and Barcelona meant adventures on the train system; funicular journeys up mountains; long engrossing walks through cities and towns; seaside excursions and toll familiarity.

Tarragona; Sitges; Barcelona; Montserrat; Blanes; Tordera (very close to where we were based); Tossa de Mar; Figueres; Jonquera – and many more in between.

We returned to torrential rain after a 7hr and 10 min plane delay. Our central heating is on. I look at my shabby home town and this worn and frayed house with a fresh frustration. I read of our politicians and fresh scandals and feel deepest despair and a desire not to stay and fix – largely because I realise I’ve given up thinking any of it can be or that I could have been instrumental in ameliorating any of it (silly, naive – though more likely arrogant – me) – but to leave and leave now.

I feel contaminated by the Tories and their politics of hate. I feel contaminated by a Labour party so corrupted by Blair that it reeks; the leadership contenders fighting like maggots over its corpse. And every news outlet – all preaching the same bankrupt neo-liberal sermon. There is nowt to be done. No effective opposition. And the system is designed to ensure there’s none.

I’m alive to my hypocrisy of course. That I’d decamp to a European country that’s as much of a basket case – and that I’d do so whilst knowing that I’d vote No in any EU Referendum. That’s breath-taking classic idiocy. To imagine a new life – to imagine that ultimately the politics of the powerful would be different.

The trick – I think – is not to leave in the belief that you can somehow begin again. Not to leave because you feel nothing but contempt for your own home. But to be clear about what is possible – what can be left behind and what will not change.

I’m a nomad who hasn’t travelled. I am restless to be gone. Not to some mythical nirvana. But to live a life that feels a better fit.

Baby steps. I’ve sent the application away for the language course.

In the meantime here’s a few foties.GironaGirona 1Montserrat 3MontserratPerpignanPaellaSitgesTarragona JamieTarragona freedomTossa MeganTarragonaTossa de Martossa evan

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3 thoughts on “

  1. I understand what you’re writing but one single heads up from me as a northern-European-North-American nomad who HAS nomaded, an awful lot: I can tell you that hot climates get old fast. They do have some cool months, which feel fucking FREEZING in most of the homes which seem to be built ignoring them – the coldest I’ve ever been has been during the winter in the Australian sub-tropics. And the heat of the hot months and its consequences are harder to escape than the cold of the cold months in cold countries.

    • I’m a moaner… and in the mood I’m in the grass is always greener (or yellower or non-existent in this case)… I’m just pissed off with this pissy wee island and in stereotypical Scot/Brit mode the pissing rain and driving winds tipped me over the edge. You’d have thought it would have been the xenophobia or the petty-mindedness or even Cecil the lion… but nope, it was the weather.
      In truth, I need to properly work out what would help ease my route between here and the grave. It isn’t what I’m currently doing.
      On the bright side, at least I’m now old enough to know that if I want a ‘change’ I need to make it happen.
      I’ve got the MSc (almost) finished. And the offer of PhD funding. Maybe – on the back of that – I’ll get the change I’m looking for.
      I’ve suffered real life-envy when reflecting on your courage (because that’s how it seems to me – I’ve just got that courage now I think) and nomad ways. I admire you. The choices you’ve made – and the way that you seem to get on with it all. But you’re right – in practical terms hot is no long-term picnic for a Northern European – and you’ve reminded me that some of my happiest days here are days spent with the frost and ice and snow (and full-bung central-heating).

      • You’re kind but sometimes I feel like all being a nomad has done for me is help me avoid dealing with the psychological complexities of “real life” that people who don’t move a lot face down while they’re still in their fucking 20s, and as such is the opposite of courage. That’s not true, of course; it’s done a lot for me, and the fact that some of that lot are effectively negative (Ex. I know now I don’t want to live in the tropics. I know I don’t want a garden. I know I don’t particularly want a house. I know Australia is just too far away. I know Italy is fundamentally a gilded shithole) don’t make them less useful. But I’m visiting my family in Canada this month and that always turns me into a gloomy Gus (see “dealing with psychological complexities” above)

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