We’ve been back home for around 20 days now, and things are slowly becoming normal again. Which is why I felt compelled to write this blog post now, before I forget the odd little things that have struck me since we got back to the UK. Apart from a short return in November 2016, during which we were so busy catching up with family and friends, doctors, dentists and getting an MOT done that we didn’t really notice anything, we’ve been on the road since January 2016 – 18 months.
Whenever we get back we ask folks what’s new? What have we missed? What have they been up to? And usually the answer to all of these questions is ‘nothing much’.
I guess it’s a bit like a parent not noticing their child grow because they see them each day, only to find that their school trousers are two inches too short after the summer holidays. So, from my point of view, what has changed in those 18 months? Well, here goes:
- Fidget Spinners – When we returned after our two year trip in 2013 the new thing was e-cigs and vaping stuff, this time it’s fidget spinners, they are everywhere. As far as I can tell they have no use, and unlike e-cigs I assume they are for children. Are they the modern version of bubble wrap popping? Our friend’s 8 year old son very proudly told us he has three, when I pointed out he only has two hands and asked why he needed three, he simply launched into a demonstration of their different coloured lights. I am still none the wiser.
- Deliveroo – “Deliverwhat?” I asked as several chaps cycled past me at the bus stop. If you haven’t seen them yet, they all sport a square box about the size of a small fridge on their backs. Once on the bus a quick search on the internet (WiFi on our busses was here before we went away, but is still great) and it seems that box is the opposite of a small fridge as they were delivering takeaways.
- Cars for only £135 – Now Zagan the van is in storage we were on the look out for a car, so how tempted was I when I spotted a lovely new car on a TV advert for only £135, prices have dropped massively since we’ve been away. Ah, hang on, what’s that, it’s £135 per month. And what’s that in the small print? A massive deposit, interest rate to make you weep and a huge end payment too. Err, no thanks. Since when did it become the norm to buy a car on finance? Businesses have been leasing cars for years, but I’ve never known cars to be sold at a monthly price, I guess it does a good job of hiding the actual price. Personally this goes against everything I was taught about money growing up as a child. Save up until you can afford what you want, not the other way around.
- Fast pace but getting nowhere – As soon as we rolled off the ferry at Dover we noticed a shift in drivers behaviour, everyone is in such a rush. Not only that but the odd few are willing to pull stupid stunts to save a precious few seconds, or to get one over on their fellow drivers and get ahead of them in the queue. I admit I used to do it too, but I think the stress of swapping lanes shaved more time off my life than I saved, so I won’t be doing it any more. The country seems to be one continual traffic jam (it took us 7 hours to drive 215 miles on motorway home from Dover, averaging just over 30 miles per hour). Perhaps this problem is all related to how cheap cars are these days (only £135) which leads to more on the road.
- Things have got expensive – Not everything has, I can still get a tin of baked beans for 25p (if I buy a pack of 4, shop’s own brand), but little amounts have crept up on most stuff. A granary loaf used to be £1.35 and is now £1.50. I needed a new mascara and nearly dropped my basket when I saw the cheapest in the supermarket was £5 (needless to say I nipped to Wilkos and picked one up for £2 which does the same job). Diesel is now pretty much the same price as petrol, which is good for us in our diesel supping motorhome, but around 10p a litre more than when we left.
- Micropubs – Often with standing room only, or just a couple of tables these little places are great. We’ve had one pop up in our town since we left and it’s doing a roaring trade. Of course we’ve nipped in to check it out and found it to be very welcoming and cheaper than a lot of the established pubs. The town next door now has several, so it looks like we are set for a few great nights out testing these new establishments.
- Negativity – This may be me who has changed, but people seem so down on everything. Sitting on the bus all I hear are folks complaining about other folks, complaining about the bus journey or complaining about what was on TV last night. It also seems that the things they complain about aren’t their fault, it is always the fault of someone else. Maybe it is because I can once again understand what people are saying, but I do like to think that the sing-song voices I heard across Spain were discussing something far more interesting and positive. I think I may need to invest in some headphones to help keep my spirits up!
I suspect there are loads of other little things that have passed us by as we race headlong back into ‘normal’ life. Jay is contracting so spends most of his days in an office. At first it was a bit odd to be apart during the days again and we thought we would have loads more to talk about having not both seen and done the same thing all day, but strangely that’s not the case. Last night we ran out of things to say, a first in a very long time.
The tenants moved out of one of our rental properties last week after being in there for six years. So we’ve taken the opportunity to redecorate the house during the couple of weeks that it is vacant. This has meant much more work than we had planned, especially with Jay working full time, and finds us me physically tired at night while Jay is more mentally tired from the tsunami of information that is currently being thrown at him. Hopefully by this weekend the house will be finished and we’ll be able to relax again and enjoy being home for a little while.