I absolutely love the cultural immersion of visiting new cities and countries but as L.Frank Baum said, “There’s no place like home.” The North West of England may not have the same buzz or the great cultural diversity as capital cities, we may not have Big Ben or the Eiffel tower, but here are a few things I love most about being home.
The compulsory chippy tea after a night out
I love observing the 20 minute queue at the kebab shop while we wait for our chips, cheese and gravy to go down with the kebab after a night out. Who wants an expensive and sophisticated three course meal when you can go to your nearest kebab shop to buy a load of carbs to soak up the alcohol for less than five pound.
The eagerness to talk to strangers
When I arrived in Paris and traveled on the metro for the first time, I was struck at how no one would even dare look at each other never mind talk. This was a completely strange concept compared to what goes down in the North West. We step on that train and want to know every single detail about the stranger who is sitting opposite us. We step on that same train with the outlook of potentially meeting your future best friend for life.
I was on the train to Liverpool when I got talking to a man sat on the opposite seat. He told me about his children, what universities they went to and a bit about himself. I told him I was waiting for my A Level results to see if I would be accepted into a university in Paris. As we arrived in Liverpool, we parted and went our separate ways. Four weeks later, I was walking along the platform at Liverpool Central when a man tapped me on the shoulder… “Did you get into the university in Paris?” he asked eagerly. It was the same man and I sure did!
I understand it would be extremely tiring in a capital city, however during my studies in Paris, I sometimes missed walking down a road and saying hi to a stranger passing by without someone looking at you like you had completely lost your marbles.
Okay, so the weather is terrible, so of course I don’t miss this. But I miss how it molds us into who we are and has defined the British culture. I have seen French people wearing an all black outfit and a scarf during a heatwave in Paris whilst in the North West, I seen a man wearing flip flops in Tesco in December because the sun was peeping out from the clouds. It was minus 5 degrees.
Last week, I went to see Paolo Nutini in Manchester where we arrived early for the gig and got stuck in a downpour. Thanks to Tim (yes, it’s true, we get to know every-ones name) who was selling the plastic overcoats, myself and many other women’s summer outfits were saved. Even though the forecast had predicted rain and the temperature was below twenty degrees, we still decided to wear our summer clothes – some women had even opted for heels. Absurd as it looks to foreigners, I love our enthusiasm and our desire for it to be summer despite the torrential rain and thunder that is occurring above us. Even if our toes freeze and our knees turn blue with cold, we must get the most out of our summer clothes because that one day a year when we have our “heatwave” has already passed.
One of the great moments of the concert was when the sun came out from the clouds and the whole crowd cheered. It was at the end of June… In the middle of Summer… So the sun should be out but we cheered anyway. We complain about the weather but it’s what puts the Great into Great Britain.
North West of England, it feels so good to be back home, it may only be temporary for now, but you’ll always be in my heart!