Just Your Average Brit


I’ve been sick for a while recently, what with a root canal and needing three fillings, topped off with a throat infection, and then finally a standard season-change cold. I then finally fell prey to what La Rambla is famous for here (pickpockets), and had my phone stolen, although I’m not really surprised, as I’ve been pretty lucky to keep all personal possessions in check for almost two years now. For this, I haven’t felt too inspired recently, even though there have been a few things I’ve wanted to write about. So, finally, when it’s a beautiful, sunny day off for me, I’m going to sit inside my stuffy room and write rather than go and enjoy those rays. What in the Spanish has got into me?

Our school has had a different sort of week, what with the bank holiday in the middle of it; normally if there’s a bank holiday set at that time, people don’t come to classes the day after, so they were all cancelled, and instead we ran some different activities. Seminars, and the purpose of my writing; conversation classes. Running from the lower levels to the higher, and separated into two, we casually chatted with students rather than being in our usual positions behind a high table. Time and time again people clamour for conversational English; really wanting to practice. We were provided with certain topics to discuss, and certain ones to avoid (Catalan independence being a big no-no, for example). Time and time again, we diverted from the original topics to differences between our two nations.

You simply can’t avoid it. We try and try to find common ground, and whilst on the surface we’re all the same, and just people all in a society together, the basic differences and the subtle cultural changes always crop up. From living here for over a year now, I think I’ve managed to gauge an idea of what the Spanish see as the typical Brit. Now, it’s not scientific, nor do I pretend to be highly accurate, or intend on offending anyone, but my findings are as follows:

 

1. People in the United Kingdom have no idea what a vegetable is.

You may think I am exaggerating this point for humour. Please think again. This is almost a direct quote from a student yesterday, who told me that supermarkets in London did not contain vegetables. I’d really like to know a) which supermarkets she went to and b) if she visited each supermarket in the Greater London area. Naturally, I disputed this idea, but after being asked where I was from (the North of England), it was decided by general consensus that I was not the authority on London, despite having a brother living there, and having visited there multiple times more than they all had.

Stock this, please, Spain.
Stock this, please, Spain.

I am so sick of the idea that we don’t have any clue about cooking, and that the Mediterranean diet is the best in the world. I love the food here. But it can’t hold a candle to a good Indian dish. I’m hoping as immigration increases here, so will awareness of other food and cultural delicacies. I can’t find a great deal of stuff that I use to cook with in the UK, which is such a pity as I really think a nation which prides itself on its food should be more accepting of importing other foodstuffs rather than sticking with the staples. I call on you, Spain, to start selling more than one type of cream, proper fresh milk as standard, have more variety of winter fruits, and have the bog standard ingredients for a chicken korma on hand in the supermarkets. Then tell me the English don’t know cooking.

2. British people have no concept of a life of sun and believe that Spain is practically The Caribbean in comparison to their own dreary climate.

The average day in London. I thought the Houses of Parliament were a watery blur for years, until I finally went to London.
The average day in London. I thought the Houses of Parliament were a watery blur for years, until I finally went to London.

As it rains in Britain every day of the year (except for maybe one day in August, and that memorable time at twelve o’clock last Saturday), Brits are impervious to rain. We mustn’t notice it. It is just like white noise for us. We should probably be out gallivanting in the streets the moment a downpour shows itself. I hate rain. Everybody hates rain. It makes my shoes wet. It makes me look like a crazy Einstein with a finger in a socket. My washing doesn’t dry. I have the same feelings as the Spaniards about this weather…but no, no, no; when it’s raining I can’t complain; when it’s cold I can’t shiver, because I should be ‘accustomed’ to it.

It’s actually colder in winter here than it is at home…

3. People in the United Kingdom are incredibly polite and friendly (when on their own turf).

True. Next.

4. We drink an awful lot and are lairy, loud, and irritating when on holiday.

I am inclined to agree. When drinking with Spaniards, I pace myself much more. I went out recently and lined up the shot of Jaeger with a glass next to it, dash of Red Bull at the ready. In I dropped the alcohol, and one, two, three, down the hatch. One go. My companions, on the other hand, struggled to do it in one. More like in three. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, by the way. I don’t class it as a talent to down-in-one one part Jaeger two parts Red Bull. This said, it’s something most university students, and indeed twenty-somethings, have down pat. The culture here is much more relaxed as regards drinking. I genuinely think they drink more than we do; the difference is the speed. Your average holidaymaker here drinks in the space of an hour what a native here drinks over five hours, or the whole evening. No wonder the seaside resorts are full of idiots hurling themselves into pools from balconies, and getting tattoos on their bum cheeks. No wonder the residents have this idea of us.

5. We look like lobsters the minute we step onto a beach.

100% true. Even worse for the Irish.

fPUUf

6. British women wear a lot of make up and wear very little clothing.

images (1)

7. We’re all fat. 

Again, I’m going to find it hard to dispute this one. Well, I don’t really want to. Obesity rates in the UK are shocking, and I’d really rather this stereotype wasn’t true, but it is. However, I would like to say that it isn’t because we cook everything in butter (because we don’t…I like my vegetable oil, thanks). I think it has more to do with our more commercial-centred and less family-orientated society, and availability of fast food, plus abject laziness.

We're in the dark; but as you can see, the rest of Europe is following closely behind.
We’re in the dark; but as you can see, the rest of Europe is following closely behind.

I’m worried for Spain, though – the amount of sugar they eat here surprises me, especially for such a ‘healthy’ country. Having lived with families of the country for a while, I saw it was commonplace for a child to have hot chocolate (like Nesquik) every single morning. To me, that’s already too much. But then, I wouldn’t give my kids the standard UHT milk they get here, it tastes far too synthetic and horrible. I’d have to spend more and get the fresh milk, which you can find here, but it’s not so common. Hot chocolate is often drunk with cereal in, and many children have biscuits for breakfast, which I find absolutely ridiculous and not at all a substitute for a healthy brekky. People who give their children biscuits for breakfast in the UK, are to the best of my knowledge, not seen as the shining examples of parenting. The sugar levels must make these kids, who already have to study absolutely ridiculous amounts, go completely berserk by 9:30am. The morning break usually consists of a croissant, or more biscuits, and in some cases a sandwich (which I’m sure would make a better breakfast, but what do I know…). A yoghurt can’t be eaten without ten spoons of sugar added to it. What happened to the nice, fresh taste of natural yoghurt? I’m shunned like a leper when I tell people I really don’t want extra sugar, or, in fact, any, thanks.

 

 

I sound like I’m being incredibly rude about a country where I’ve chosen to go and live, and has been very good to me so far. I’m not; I promise. There are so many good things here. I just want to defend a few points that are so often said about us and our silly little nation; mostly for the purposes of humour, and to see if any of my fellow countrymen will nod their heads along with what I say, as may some foreigners.

I’ve said many a time why I love it here, and I promise I’ll sing Catalonia’s praises next time; providing no more pickpockets take advantage of me, and illness doesn’t plague me any longer, so I can start to go out and enjoy the wonderful weather.

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Wot? No Sossages?


Of course, as English, we have stereotypes. Every nation has them, and they can be quite fun at times, especially when you learn to laugh about them, stiff upper lip and that, what what. We seem to be seen as a nation who partakes in strange humour, constantly insults one another, whilst being ridiculously polite and able to queue until we’re blue in the face. One stereotype I just simply can’t fathom, and almost abhor, however, is the fact that we’re seen as a nation who just doesn’t have good food. It’s a well known fact that Brits apparently can’t cook and don’t eat well. I can understand that given the size that Brits are coming to be, and the state of health of our children/adults alike, the world might have this impression of us. But it’s just not fair! It’s simply not true. Having sat for dinner with Spanish families for over seven months now, and discussed food matters, the remark I now hear most frequently is; ‘I never knew you had so much to offer’. Talks of fruits, vegetables, cakes, main dishes, everything you could think of, that the Spaniards had no idea we had on offer.

I can understand that if one looked at the basic meat and two veg style of Brit supper, then the wrong impression could be given. I’m not a big meat eater myself, let alone fish, so I do struggle here a bit in Spain, where the daily diet has to include at least one of each. The food’s great here, and they’re healthy, lithe, and sporty, with a good attitude to eating, relaxing, and dining. I think Brits got lazy somewhere along the way, and decided fast food was easier, like our American cousins, but even so, we still have some great things that I’ve been discussing recently with nostalgia.

Yum! Proper sossages.

Of course, we can all agree to disagree when it comes to things like Marmite, but just simple things like bacon and sausages I have to hand to the English when it comes to it, as I don’t like streaky bacon, which is the standard here, and I definitely don’t like finding bits of gristle in my sausages, which I find more often than not here. They’re not as salted and seasoned here, too, so I do believe you can’t beat a good Cumberland or Lincolnshire sausage.

Apples here are entirely awful; and I don’t exaggerate this fact – even some of the Spaniards themselves have agreed with me on this. Bland, the wrong kind of chewy, a little seedy and almost fluffy so they fall apart in your mouth, they have almost no flavour and you feel like you’re only eating them in order to get one of your five a day. Granny Smiths can be bought here but they’re awfully expensive, as are Pink Ladies, but I do miss a good Cox’s Pippin, or just the simple Garden Gang ASDA apples which are a snip at £1 a bag (although inflation has probably got the better of me here and by the time I go back to England they’ll be at least £2.50). The variety of apples we have is much richer, much more vibrant, and entirely more satisfying. Other seasonal fruits include gooseberries (grosellas), blackberries (moras), redcurrants (grosellas rojas – apparently there is no difference between gooseberries and redcurrants here, according to the names they give, which I can assure you is not true…they’re entirely different fruits!), and blackcurrants (grosellas negras, if you hadn’t guessed that), to name but a few.

As far as I was aware, they look nothing like redcurrants! I tried to describe them to my Spanish family as ‘Small kiwis with hair and stripes’. Er. Kind of.

We have a rich variety of fruits and vegetables, which I do believe we don’t always take advantage of, but our basics are brilliant for cooking, eating fresh, and baking. Strawberries with cream, a Wimbledon favourite, which brings me onto another lament – no cream. That was a bit of a lie, they do of course have cream, even squirty type, which I would have thought was a cardinal sin over here; but they don’t have cream that goes over a fat content percentage of 35%. Quite right, you’re probably thinking. Sounds jolly healthy. But imagine ice cream made with milk and less fatty cream, strawberries without the rich double cream coating, your favourite dessert with a covering of what almost seems like milk.

A whole Summer without this – what on Earth will I do?

I was looking to bake myself a nice cake with homemade ice cream for my birthday, or a semifreddo, but what would you know, all the things I wanted to bake required double cream, which just doesn’t exist here. I’d have to try and make it myself right from the cow. I can lament all I want, I suppose, but it’s not truly serious – I of course miss some British cooking, but it’s mostly the baking rather than the main courses, which I’ve never been keen on much due to the meaty content. Ginger doesn’t exist here either, really, except in Chinese food, or upon occasion in smoothies. I love a ginger nut or a good HobNob, brandy and ginger snaps, syrup pudding, ginger cake, and marmalade cake, which I hadn’t thought about much until recently, and now I’m at the verge of salivating over the keyboard.

Here’s an example of some fabulous British recipes, that I would urge anybody to try, and think twice about what they say when they remark on our cuisine, or lack of it indeed!

Summer Pudding

A tasty dish celebrating English summer fruits, including the aforementioned types of grosellas – redcurrants, blackcurrants, and blackberries, strawberries, with raspberries. Delicious with that naughty double cream, but just with the sweet juice that runs off the fruit mix, it’s enough to make you dream of Summertime in the Winter.

What you expect to find cutting into a Summer pud.

Eton Mess

Named from the famous school, of course, after being traditionally served at cricket tournaments there, and celebrating the strawberry in a different fashion to Wimbledon. Meringue, the hard type, which is difficult to find in Spain, is broken up with a strawberry/raspberry/red fruit coulis, with sugar and that famous double cream again, but it can easily be made with normal ‘nata’ and Greek yoghurt. Serve it chilled in a clear glass for a nice visual treat at well as a tasty one.

Ginger Nuts

Easy enough to buy in British supermarkets, but well worth making. Delia’s somewhat of a Saint for us in regards to cooking, and this recipe is fabulous. Gingery, warming biscuits aren’t probably what one needs in a sunny climate, but when the weather’s cooler and you need the cockles of your heart warming, I’d recommend whipping up a batch of these.

Gooseberry Fool

Gooseberries are obviously difficult to find abroad, but it’s well worth it for the tart taste of this tangy ‘fool’, which can also be made with other fruits such as rhubarb or raspberries. I remember not liking it so much when I was younger, but now I think it’s wonderful.

Gooseberry Fool.

Simple drink – Elderflower Cordial

Even better if you put Gin in it!

And the final, quintessential Brit drink…

It’s Pimms o’clock! 

Get your pitchers ready for Pimms.

Pimms always reminds me of Summer. When made correctly, with the right fruit, and the mint, it’s just divine. I haven’t seen it here in Spain but I’m getting a bottle brought over for me thanks to the wonder that is Duty Free: can’t wait to savour that Brit taste for my Birthday. It’ll be Eton Mess, Pimms, Gin sorbet, and strawberries all round, I hope.

A Day in the Life


Having been here now for over a month, I have managed to somehow settle into a routine of sorts. Of course, each day at the school is different – otherwise I wouldn’t enjoy it so much, but I thought I’d give you a taste of what most days are like for me in Spain. I also want to describe my first week’s experience with running a drama class for six year olds, perhaps so you can share my pain, perhaps so I can gain a little sympathy – needless to say, it’s no mean feat, teaching drama in a language the children have little comprehension of.

I usually wake at 7am, the sound of violins plaguing the morning air, as the children of the family I’m staying with practise every single day, come rain, come shine, come Sunday. I had expected a lovely long lie-in on Sundays, snuggled in the duvet, enjoying the last few hours of darkness and warmth. However, this can’t be the case for me. Instead, I get the screech of the bow across the strings, and the shout of the mother who doesn’t want the child to play that note, that way, thank you very much.

Breakfast is a scratched attempt of whatever is in the kitchen. Here, breakfast isn’t such a big deal – it tends to be rather small, maybe a biscuit, a yoghurt, oats with milk (but not hot – that would be porridge, and that would be disgustingly English), or cereal, eaten from what else, but a mug. The notion of having cereal in a bowl here, for kids, is as strange as we would find it drunk from a mug, with warm milk and chocolate flavouring. It’s essentially hot chocolate with corn flakes. Suffice to say, I don’t partake in this particular breakfast offering.

Fancy a cuppa? Cereal, that is.

School starts at 9am, and already by this time, my hand is aching by the amount of waving I have to do between getting out the car/dismounting the train, and walking up the stairs to the Sala Profesores (staff room). I usually have classes straight away – there’s a few lucky days where I can sit on my laptop and work in silence, preparing for the tutoring I’m doing, the Science in English (yes, you read correctly – Science classes in English) that I take twice a week with eight and nine year olds. Mostly, though, it’s class time. I’ve yet to observe a register being taken – part of me doubts that it exists as a process in Spanish schools. Class is supposed to begin at nine, but by the time the children have moved from their own classroom to the special English room, or in the case of the younger children, hung all their clothes, ‘mochilas’ (schoolbags), and sportswear on the pegs, then returned to their seats – it’s already around 9.15. Some lessons are only half an hour long, so this usually means that the class lasts ten minutes, and then the children return to their own classroom or get ready for the next lesson to begin. This continues until 11am, when it’s time for the first break of the day, lasting half an hour. It’s common for kids to eat a sandwich, what looks like a whole packet of biscuits, or even cereal in a tub, without the milk.

Certainly a thing of the past in this school.

Recently, it’s been raining quite a bit, which means the children stay inside on their break, and of course cooping them up like that makes for difficult behaviour in lessons. They’re pent up with play that they couldn’t get out the way, short bursts of energy taking over what they do inside the classroom. It doesn’t help that the discipline system here doesn’t seem to be that effective. The most ‘telling off’ I’ve seen is a list of the children’s names on the blackboard who weren’t sitting in the correct place at the correct time. It often seems that they can get away with murder: shouting, screaming, meandering around the room and corridors to their heart’s content. What I do in classes depends on the age group. From eight years old upwards, I take children out the class and practise spoken English with them. This can range from simple ‘I like hockey/swimming’, telling the time, posing questions related with ‘to be’, or starting basic grammar in preparation for ESO for the children in their last year. ESO is our equivalent of secondary school, and all the children in their sixth year here aren’t excited about learning English there – because they think it’s going to be page upon page of grammar conditioning. They’ve moved out of the ‘English is fun’ phase, because they no longer get to play bingo, or participate in a quiz show. I find them an interesting group to work with. They’re very difficult sometimes, because they don’t want to behave, but their level of English is relatively good, so it’s nice to see them put a sentence together, or the concentration on their faces when they’re struggling to get the words they want to use out their mouths. It’s also a lot more fun in other ways – they begin to understand you can have fun with English, which means we result in sentences such as ‘Miley Cyrus has got a potato nose’ when dealing with describing people, or ‘Pablo has fish eyes’. During this same ‘description’ session, I became affectionately known as ‘Blonde Giraffe’. I’m sure that they’ve called me that because I’m the only one tall enough to turn off the digital projector without using a ruler to press the button – Spanish women, and men for that matter, tend to be shorter than us.

Come to think of it, they might have a point with this one.

For the children younger than eight, I take the role of ‘button-presser on the computer’ or ‘skipper of the next track on the CD player’. That is, I walk around the class, and simply act as an assistant to the teacher. I rarely go out the classroom with these children, because they don’t have enough language skills to make oral expression practice worthwhile. Every morning, we ask for the weather, the date, and run through basic questions with the younger children. Whilst I appreciate they’re very young, and it’s difficult to learn another language, I can find this a little frustrating. Bear in mind they do two hours of English a week, from the age of three, and very little changes during the first few years. They start with reciting the date – which is usually quite easy for them, but then we get to the difficult part. ‘How old are you?’ ‘What’s your name?’ ‘What’s your favourite colour?’ Sometimes the children have no idea how to construct these questions, and often give the wrong answer even when it’s given to them word by word. Yes, it’s difficult – it’s another language, and I myself have problems with Spanish, but it can be frustrating repeating the same thing time and time again to no avail. Mostly the classes with the younger children consist of listening to annoying songs about crayons and toys, and reciting parts of the body like there’s no tomorrow.

So, then 1pm arrives, and it’s time for lunch. Now I come to the saga of the drama classes in English. When I suggested taking these classes, I imagined doing drama with children of around 9-10 or more, where the level of English is relatively good, and they are able to understand full sentences with good ability. Others had different ideas. It seems that the family I’m staying with were keen to get their children to do drama – considering here it’s not a curriculum subject, and they don’t get much chance to express themselves in this manner. I think this is problematic, and agree they should be doing drama classes – but not in English. Imagine doing drama with a group of nine/ten children who are six years old. This is quite difficult in itself due to the attention span, the time that the children are doing the classes (it’s 1pm and their usual time for lunch, so they’re hungry), among other factors. However, when you throw in the fact that they don’t speak the same language as me, this takes an entirely new level of difficulty. I can’t imagine being able to do this all year – sure, they can play games in English, but limited ones, that they already know. They can’t do drama with a basic vocabulary of primary colours, classroom objects, and farmyard animals. We wouldn’t get much further than three sessions, tops. I’ve been shocked at the lack of organisation on the school’s part, the parents’ willingness to leave their children alone in a laboratory (yes. Laboratory. That’s where you do drama now, apparently) with a woman who doesn’t speak Spanish or Catalan and isn’t CRB-checked, nor a qualified teacher. I’m essentially just a girl who happens to have done a drama degree, and that speaks volumes amongst Spanish parents apparently, as of course that means I am trustworthy, capable, and can work miracles with a group of young children who don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.

Suffice to say, the drama classes aren’t going to happen any more.

Alas, poor drama class, we tried you well...

Lunchtime ends at 3pm – yep, that’s right, two whole hours for lunch. Some children go home, leaping on their father’s motorbike, or trailing behind after mum with their nose streaming because they want to finish their painting of a squirrel. Two hours works for the kids that go home, but the ones who stay here seem to have it a little tougher. They eat at 1, so it doesn’t take them long – even though there’s three courses every day. I eat at 2 o’clock, with the rest of the teachers, and try to imagine I understand what’s going on, when really I have no idea. Usually it’s the wrong thing – the other day I was convinced they were talking for twenty minutes about pasta, when I think in fact it was football. The children, when finished at approximately 1.20-1.30, then have until three to run rampant and generally scream themselves hoarse or collide into each other until they’re exhausted by it. This is when it’s not raining. When it is raining, they’re back into the classrooms they’ve spent all day in, playing Conectar Cuatro or trying to dance on the tables.

3pm, and classes begin again, with little point, in my opinion. The children are excited from lunchtime and playing, and they don’t want to do anything that requires concentration for over five minutes. I have one of my Science classes straight after lunch, and whilst I love it, it isn’t half a slog to get the class interested enough to participate for the whole hour. It’s not really what you would describe as a ‘Science’ class, of course, being in English. Most of the complex vocabulary relating to that subject prevents learning about osmosis, the central nervous system, or photosynthesis, and so on, and so on. Instead, we learn about body parts, muscles, things we can feel, different senses, and parts of the skeleton for the older kids. I really enjoy it, and I think the children do as well – in my first session, they all moaned and groaned, but now when I come through the door they shout in happiness, and all of them tell me English is their favourite subject. So either I’m doing a good job, or it’s an entire class of teacher’s pets. It helps me pick up Spanish as well, even though I’m not sure how much ‘clavicular’ (collar bone), ‘caja torácica’ (rib cage), and ‘columna vertebral’ (spinal cord) are going to help me in my day to day life.

What a Science lesson in English amounts to. This is our big version of Adriá, a somewhat willing volunteer who allowed himself to be labelled poorly in the name of classroom displays.

The last lesson of the day begins at 4pm, and finishes at 5. The children watch the clock at this time, and are generally either asleep on their desks, or ridiculously overexcited because it’s nearly hometime. Most Tuesdays – my ‘small people’ day, I spend the last ten minutes of the day waking up a particularly sleepy little Natalia, who always conks out on the table and wakes up with a handprint on her tiny cheek, wiping drool from her mouth and looking especially confused at the girl who orders her to wake up in incorrect Spanish. Then we get the children dressed properly, as they’re still not able to figure out how to put on a rucksack the correct way, or notice that their ‘xandal’ (tracksuit) is on inside out.

Home-time, and I’m usually hard at work, preparing tutoring sessions, learning Spanish (and failing), and looking for new ideas for Science classes. I spend little time with the family, who remain rather closed off, and occasionally play with the children if I’m not too tired or in the mood to be ignored for a good two hours by the parents. Dinner time can vary – they’re trying to get the children to bed earlier these days, possibly because of the winter nights, and that means dinner is often at 7:30, a staggeringly early time for Spanish ‘cenar’. Sometimes, however, it can be as late as 10pm, if we don’t eat with the children, and the parents unsuccessfully call me downstairs. I’m getting used to the way of eating, and now I’m even at a point where I can’t decide which I prefer. My mother kindly brought some parkin over when visiting recently, and it was rapidly devoured in the staff room over comments that it was rather rich, but all agreed it was certainly nice. When describing that it was made with oats, some had been a little timid about trying it, but gave a good effort and listened patiently when I explained in bad Spanish about November 5th and Bonfire Night.

Parkin - northern, gingery, a nice homesickness cure.

No day, of course, is the same, but I hope that what I’ve given is a taste of my life in a Spanish school – sometimes difficult, often testing, but very enjoyable all the same. All I can say is, I’m at a stage where I wish I could speak Spanish, had a PGCE, or a qualification (despite the fact that Spanish teachers receive a lower pay packet than English ones for much more work in the school day) and I’d try to teach here in an instant.

And so it begins…


Quicker than I’d expected, I’ve been given detail of my last day at work: the 14th of September. This has really pushed my brain in to overdrive, with excitement, apprehension, and panic – how on earth am I going to get everything done? Also, another very upsetting part of this tale: I’ve been told I must hand my name badge in. How am I ever going to get on without my name badge? Also, what do they think I’m going to do with it? Parade around in my uniform, whilst shoving my chest at everyone in order for them to see that, at one point, I really, truly DID work at the bank. How exciting it must have been for me.

Anyhow, I just downloaded something that is already proving to be a great investment. I was told, when expressing interest in learning Spanish to get me by, of the Michel Thomas method of learning. This, the website proclaims, has helped Hollywood stars, politicians and business leaders. It helped Grace Kelly learn French. Which means if it’s good enough for Gracie, it’s good enough for me. He (when alive: he has now sadly passed on) alleges that his method uses no books, no homework, and as far as I can tell, nothing but your ears and your open mind.

I’m still relatively dubious about it, though I have to say after days of watching the BBC’s ‘Mi Vida Loca‘ (My Crazy Life) videos, in which you travel to Spain, hoping to meet your pen-friend, but she cancels on you at the last minute (leading to some strange mystery involving her sister, urbanisation of Gran Canaria, and guerrila journalism, which is all quite a lot to take in whilst attempting to buy tickets for a cruise down the canal), all in all, I’m preferring Michel and his European accent that I can’t quite figure out.

I’ve also realised I need to be taking things that I won’t have access to over in Spain, for monetary reasons, or for the simple reason I won’t be able to get my hands on it at all over there. So far I’ve come up with Nice N’ Easy dye in Natural Lightest Ash Blonde, and Marmite. Anything I might have forgotten?

Could you live without...?