Wednesday, 25 June 2014

The Grass IS Greener. . .

This weekend marked my two year anniversary of living in England.  I can't believe how quickly the time has gone.  Once I got over the novelty and the sheer wonder that I had the guts to actually make the move, and my stuff arrived, and was unpacked, and I found a job, a knitting group, a dentist and a multi-region dvd player, life seemed to settle into a regular daily routine and the weeks and months have just flown by.

So did I make the right decision?

Well obviously, the hardest bit was leaving behind family and friends. I have the Liverpud of course, and I've met some wonderful people in England but it does feel weird sometimes that most of the people I interact with haven't known me for longer than two or three years. I miss that shared history of good times and bad that you have with friends of longstanding.  I'm often a bit nostalgic for the coziness of my old little apartment too.

If I had to sum up the key differences of before and now, I'd say that back in Toronto, I had a very interesting and challenging job but a rather boring life outside of it (often counting the days until my next UK holiday), and here, my job is rather ho-hum but I do far more interesting things in my free time. And I have a lot more of it.  It's definitely a trade-off and one that hasn't always sat comfortably, but on the whole I think it's been worth it. There are a lot more important things in life than working.  And there are several things about daily living in the UK that may seem incredibly mundane, but have actually improved my quality of life to no end.

1. The weather.  Yes, Brits love to gripe about the weather as much as Canadians do, but you'll hear no complaints from me because I love weather in moderation.  No extremes here in Liverpool (although you can get worse weather in other parts). I didn't even see as much as a snowflake last winter, never mind an ice storm or temperatures in minus double digits. No more winter boots for me! As for the summers, I definitely don't miss Toronto's heat, smog and humidity.  No need for air conditioners here and I really like that. I also love the extra light in the summer -  at the moment it doesn't get dark until ten. And the rain?  Personally, I don't notice that it rains any more in Liverpool than it did in Toronto.  If it does, it hasn't bothered me; it's what keeps everything so green!

2. Proximity to gorgeous countryside. This can't be understated. In fact I'm continually amazed that there are 62 million people living on this island.  I can't figure out where they all are. About a decade ago, I started going on walking holidays and came to a very simple conclusion - I'm just happiest when out on a long walk. It's the one time that my mind is completely at ease and stress-free and I love the sense of accomplishment that getting to the top of a hill/mountain using my own legs gives me. I even love the tired, slightly achy feeling of muscles well-used that comes afterwards (it's always a good excuse for a nice long bubble bath).  I feel more fit and healthy now than at any time in my life.

3. Living in a smaller city and being able to walk to work.  See above.  Liverpool also has lovely parks and a small wooded area for short walks that is only five minutes from my house.

4. The Marks and Spencer Food Hall.  Yes, really.  I'm addicted.

5. Free art galleries and museums, and cheaper theatre.  I thought I would really miss all the culture on offer in Toronto but I've been so pleasantly surprised by the arts scene in Liverpool. They get more funding in the UK and I'm never short of things to see and do. Tons of festivals in the city and I love being able to just pop in to my favourite galleries for free whenever the whim takes me.

6. Having a garden.  It's small, just a few containers but I'm adding more every year.  Back in Toronto my flat didn't even have a balcony so no green space of my own at all.  Even this little patch gives me such pleasure. And the UK are garden mad - everywhere you turn there are patches of fantastic colour and inspiration. 

7. Yarn Shows.  I really do miss the yarn shops in Toronto which are many and fabulous but I absolutely love going to the many yarn shows that are on offer in the U.K.  Canada is starting to host more but one can't just jump on a plane and go off to Vancouver easily, whereas, most of the ones in the UK are just a short train ride away.  The breadth of indy dyers and spinners is really huge and I love knitting with British wool, knowing that it comes locally from the thousands of sheep I see regularly on my walks.

8. Small country + large population  = fast and cheap shipping.  So when one can't get to London or to a wool show, the speed and relative cheap cost of ordering online (I'm talking from independent businesses here, not the big, bad amazon which I've boycotted for years) is fabulous.  I also love that we have Saturday mail delivery; the nicest bits of mail seem to come that day.

I'm sure there's more but that's plenty to be getting on with.  I do feel quite blessed and happy that this is one "what if?" in life that I don't have to ponder.  No regrets.  Now, if I could just find a decent doughnut shop. . .


Sallyann said...

I think those of us that you have touched in those two years should write a response article talking of all the things you've brought to us and our lives. So very glad that brave decision has reaped rewards for you as well as us.

Sara MacKenzie said...

Aw, cheers. I've only been here 6 months so far, but I love it, and I haven't even been to a wool festival here yet.

Blithe Spirit said...

Sallyann, you are going to make me cry. Many thanks for your friendship over the last two years - it's really meant a lot.

Sara - you MUST make a visit to Woolfest or Yarndale or Harrogate or the London Stitching Show - they are so much fun. I also love that new shows are popping up all the time. Would love to go to Unwind in Brighton this summer and Edinburgh will have one next year.

Diane said...

So glad it worked out so wonderfully for you. You are certainly much-missed this end! I love reading your blog and keeping up (virtually speaking!) with you on those glorious walks.

Blithe Spirit said...

Thanks Diane - there's lot I still miss about Toronto and all the people I left behind, but the walking is definitely one of the best bits about moving over here.