Meet our new columnist

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REPEAT after me: “The grass is not always greener on the other side.”

Polly, as she prefers to be known, left Hartlepool with her husband to enjoy retirement in Spain.

WRITING HOME: Meet our new columnist

WRITING HOME: Meet our new columnist

Every month she will discuss her life – and the one she left behind – in her Spanish Eyes column.

REPEAT after me: “The grass is not always greener on the other side.”

We’re a strange lot, us humans.

We’re never happy with our lot and always think that someone else has got it better than us.

And that’s how it started, really.

Living almost all of my life in the North-East of England, I grew up with Hartlepool as the hub of my lifestyle

I saw the old bus station disappear, said goodbye to Lynn Street and Musgrave Street as the main hive of shopping activity and watched Middleton Grange Shopping Centre come about.

I also spent most of my working life in Hartlepool.

I might not have been born there but that’s definitely who I was.

I was weaned on the Hartlepool Mail, my dad and I fighting over the paper to be the first to look at the poultry and livestock column.

Still, hubby and I opted for early retirement and went for the thing that we didn’t have enough of in the North-East of England – sunshine.

Well, Spain can definitely guarantee sunshine, can’t it?

Well, yeah but no but yeah.

For most people, Spain is shaped like a banana and Madrid is in there somewhere.

Well, that banana is where everyone goes on holiday for that beautiful sunshine and no, we’re nowhere near there.

In fact, winter in Galicia in the north-west corner of Spain, some 13 hours drive north of those tourist resorts, is incredibly cold and I’ve now experienced chilblains for the first time.

As for the fish and chip shops, Yorkshire puddings, English breakfasts and those precious English newspapers and magazines, there aren’t any.

There isn’t any corned beef either or suet or lots of things that we need to be who we are.

And life is so different in non-tourist Spain.

There are very few English people, no service buses, real pubs with carpeted floors, telephones that work or any of that wonderful craic that you can expect from someone in Hartlepool.

“You’re a penny short in paying for this pet but don’t worry, as I won’t start calling you till after you’ve gone.’

Gone too are the smiling faces, helpful shop assistants and those nice people who hold doors open for you.

In Galicia, you don’t live in a house with all the utilities.

You live in a renovated house that at some time housed the cows and never had those pipes or cables.

The walls are made of metre-thick stone, there’s no double cavity (as the beasts didn’t need it), no insulation, electricity, gas, water, telephone line, nothing.

As to lifestyle, so many things are “out” but other things are “in”, like pastry made out of bread dough as they don’t truly do self-raising flour here, octopus, tea made with hot milk, a telephone service with a call centre on the other side of the planet and workmen that don’t turn up.

“When in Rome (or, in this case, Madrid), do as the Romans do.”

Sorry, I can’t wholly agree to that. I really can’t. I’m English by birth and English by nature. And an honorary Poolie, at that.

Seaton Carew and your fish and chip shops, I miss you.

You lovely supermarkets in Hartlepool, send me your free samples (please include the above-mentioned items and some bumper boxes of tea bags)!

WH Smith and all you charity shops, oh how I need you, I really do.

It’s true. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side and sometimes it reminds you just how green it actually was on your original patch.

Still, I must refer to my diary, to find when the metamorphosis took place.

PS: And would I up sticks and return to Hartlepool? Nah – there’s no sunshine, is there?

HAVE you or someone you know moved abroad?

What do you miss most about life back in Hartlepool?

Contact gavin.ledwith@northeast-press.co.uk