Life in the heart of France
20th September 2012
To fill an afternoon I went for a wander around the town of Poole. Much of the shopping area is pedestrianised and therefore pleasant to walk around. Well, it would be were it not for the litter, the graffiti and the yobbish behaviour of some young people. I despair of the quality of the youth of today (... am I sounding like an old fart yet?)
Anyway, I'm sure the residents of Poole are well used to this, but I find it alarming that, in the middle of the pedestrian shopping area ... is a railway track. When the red lights flash, the barriers come down...
As someone who actually enjoys browsing around supermarkets, I was drawn to Tesco - repeatedly! Although their range of cheeses is laughable compared to any French supermarket, and the chillers full of ready prepared meals indicates that's what most shoppers live on, I have to say the fresh foods are good quality and good value. I was able to put together a great snack lunch (for less than the price of a ready-made mass-produced sandwich) - a cheesy bread twist, a small pack of mature cheddar with black pepper, a tub of coleslaw and a small bottle of water, with a pack of six teaspoons for 80p - well, how else would I eat the coleslaw??
I bought Stilton and a jar of mango chutney, a loaf of granary bread, savoury crackers and halloumi cheese - all things I love but can't get at home in deepest France. So it's not all bad!
Leaving on Friday morning for the flight home, a half hour journey to Southampton on the M27 took me over an hour. No accidents, no major roadworks, no reason other than sheer volume of traffic. Boy, I don't enjoy driving on British roads any more. But I'd allowed plenty of time, had time for coffee at the airport, and had a nice, easy uneventful flight home. Yes, I'm happy that France is home now.
Thoughts on merrie old England?
Of course there are good things that I do miss, living in the French countryside. Clothes shopping for one - although M&S have re-opened one branch and I've heard Primark is about to open its first branch in France, I expect it'll be a long time till there's one near where I live. Many things are cheaper in the UK, but I've adopted a frugality that means I can live without most of what's on offer. I must be honest though - I did buy some clothes, more as a treat than a necessity.
It was notable that on Poole's high street there are pawn shops, 'pound' shops, 'sell your old gold' dealers, and many mobile phone shops. Clothes shops with permanent 'sales' on and more than a few empty shops - I think that says a lot about the state of the British economy. There were a lot of people milling about, but not many were carrying purchases.
...and seconds later a train hurtles through the crowd of shoppers, inches away.. are they mad? I kept well back!
A 20-minute queue to get OFF the M27...
Flying above the gloom