After almost 2 weeks in the UK, husband arrived to spend the last week with us. He kept asking, ‘how does England look to you’. My answer was always the same, ‘green’. Israel is now shrouded in heat haze with dusty roads and fields, sandy and burnt, so England was like a lush paradise in comparison. I was told by just about everyone that they’d had fantastic weather but as it was raining when we landed and the gardens and fields were the green that only regular rainfall produces I figured ‘fantastic’ was sunshine and showers. On leaving the airport no. 1 son shouted, ‘I told you it would be raining’. Having not seen rain for many many months the kids thought it was great and revelled in donning wellie boots and coats to splash in muddy puddles. To be fair we were lucky in that no one day was wall to wall grey skies and constant downpours. We were never housebound as a result of the wet and that to me is indeed ‘fantastic’ weather.
I have since considered hubby’s question about how I saw England on this trip and I realised that after almost 10 years in Israel I now see England through the eyes of an outsider.
Here are my top ten things to appreciate in the UK as a visitor or as a visiting ex pat:
1. The sound of church bells – nothing to do with religion but to me quintessentially English.
3. Supermarkets – what choice, what prices, be still my beating heart and fight to keep the wallet in the bag. Israel is so much more expensive in terms of consumer goods and the choice is limited so a trip to Tesco was heaven (especially when converting from shekel to pound)
4. Friendly service – shops, cafes, bars, National Trust staff (we met a lot of them),all so chatty and friendly.
5. People letting you pull out when indicating in the car and waving thank you when you do the same. A–M-A-Z-I-N-G.
6. Booze. Every social occasion involves booze. This is not a complaint, a 5pm G & T with my old pops and a few glasses of vino with friends and family is always a winner in my view. However what I didn’t bank on was my lack of resilience and the feeling of being more than a little under par first thing the next morning.
7. Following on with the booze theme – pubs and pub gardens: child friendly, day light throughout the evening and who doesn’t love bitter shandy?
9. CBeebies closing at 7pm. Does that mean the childers go to bed at 7.30pm? YES THEY DO – not that mine did (it was holiday time) but as I am slightly out of sync with most Israeli parents who put their kids to bed around 9pm I was happy to discover my 7.30pm rule is not mine alone.
10. Calm, a feeling of safety. Partly because in my little corner of Cheshire I feel safe and the UK in general does not have the frenetic energy of the stressed and worried that often becomes the norm here, and partly because one can never feel 100% safe in Israel – especially at the moment.
So why do I want to sleep through September? I am back and surprisingly not sinking into homesickness but Israel is still hot and as humid as the seventh circle, there is an ‘outbreak’ or not (depending on who you listen to) of polio, oh and Assad is threatening to bomb us if the US bomb them. Back to normal then. The heart racing, lump in the throat fear that pops up most unexpectedly when the words ‘gas masks’ are banded about. Finally and perhaps weirdly, September is holiday season - Rosh Hashanah is firing us off this week into a month long holiday bonanza. Having survived happily with the childers being with me 24/7 in the cool UK for the past 3 weeks they went back to nursery and pre-school at the end of last week only to break up again on Tuesday. Oh purlease – less than a week and it’s time for another holiday? In this weather!! I am hoping for a 10 degree temperature drop, peace in the region and a Shana Tova (Happy New Year) for everyone.