Eight years ago today, I arrived on this island for my longest stay so far. After crossing parts of the Netherlands, Belgium, France and the English Channel I stayed the night in Folkestone before heading on to Wales. It was Halloween and I could see children in their costumes trick-or-treating while I was getting lost trying to find the B&B I had booked and getting used to driving on the ‘wrong side’ in a left-hand drive. My adventure had begun.
Since then I have settled in Wales, moved house once, visited many castles and have fallen in love with this country. I’m still driving on the ‘wrong side’ but at least I’m sitting on the right side now. I’ve come to fully appreciate fish ’n’ chips, Indian food and Bara Brith and accept the fact that I will never have a proper summer again and significantly fewer bank holidays than back home. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Growing up on the European continent had the advantage of never being far away from new cultures and languages. Going on holiday, especially as a child, felt like an exciting adventure, being able to get into a car and within the blink of an eye (or two) cross the border into a foreign country, not exactly knowing how things work and probably having only a rudimental sense of the language.
Moving to Wales brought back this sense of adventure, finding myself submerged into a world of “ll”s, throaty sounds, 1-vowel-per-10-consonants words, rugby and Welsh rarebit. Most of the times I can’t read a thing (especially place names), wonder what people are saying and my existence is reduced to a series of interesting experiences and guesses.
I still get asked what it is like to live in Wales. (Well, to be honest, most people say England but mean Wales, so let’s just say Britain.) It’s difficult to explain really. So I thought I’d share some of my experiences in a weekly post: funny or embarrassing episodes when my expectations of how things work were completely wrong, musings about this culture and its people or just general observations, always with a twinkle in my eye.