I’ve thought hard about what I’ll miss when we move to France. When we’ve settled in and the novelty has worn off, what will I actually miss? And I can’t think of much at all that isn’t food or shopping related. I’ll miss Marks and Spencers and I’ll miss Waitrose. Their cafes and each of their aisles of yummy food, browsing lingerie and jewellery and the sale rails. Going to M&S has become a bit of a ritual for me whenever I visit family in the Midlands. A treat I look forward to and now associate with the people I will miss most. Waitrose was one of the first things I loved about Ben when we were brand new. It marked him out as having taste and standards. He was a snob like me, and had opinions on tea, and sea sat. He bought me a rose cup cake from Waitrose in Headington and delivered it to me across town on his lunch break, one of the gestures that won me over. I’ll miss chinese and indian takeaway. Spare ribs and a good chicken tikka masala. Even my best efforts haven’t come close to the real thing. I have ribs – dry with lemon – with my Dad practically every time I stay at his. I ate chicken tikka masala in the days after coming home with baby Cali, and on evenings after we’ve been out doing a wedding, or we’ve been working super hard in the house and I just can’t face cooking. A real indulgence I’ve relaxed into with a beer and something on the tele, snuggled on the sofa under a blanket. I’ll miss my hairdresser and our conversations, and reading Hello magazine while I wait for my hair dye to develop. If I’m even within reach of a hairdressers I’m not sure I’ll have the confidence to book an apppointment, so I’ll be home dying until I can face letting the grey take over completely. I’ll miss the lovely dentist we’ve just found, and having regular check ups for the whole family. I’m expecting that to be an expensive luxury to keep in France. I’ll miss Boots, a wonderful shop where you can buy baby clothes and make up and Sanctuary spa products. In France you have to scour the pharmacies for eyeliner and nail clippers which cost twice as much as you want to pay for them. I’ll miss charity shops. The baby clothes and toys and books I’ve picked up for next to nothing, and the convenience of dropping off the odd bag of decluttering. I’ll miss tea and coffee ‘to go’ at train stations. Warming hands on paper cups of milky tea, a small comfort when you just want to be home. Using train stations, travelling by train by myself. Having never driven, I’ve spent alot of time on trains, happily, alone. I can’t see that ever happening in France. It’s a drive to Toulouse, and where would I go alone? Sushi from the mini M&S you get in train stations. I’ll have to make my own sushi in France. Being picked up in the rain and dark from the train station by Ben. Being picked up from my weddings by Ben and the kids in the back of the car, beaming faces pleased to see me. Our drive through MacDo routine, the same order everytime, when we’re coming back from doing a wedding.
I’ll miss my family in the Midlands. But I miss them now.
Maybe I’ll learn to make sushi, dry ribs, chicken tikka masala, rose cupcakes and thick chocolate milkshake so well that I don’t need to miss those tastes of life back home. We can stock up on goodies from Waitrose and M&S and Boots on trips back and ask family to bring care packages over when they visit. Maybe we’ll find a department store we love in Toulouse or Narbonne. Maybe I’ll be ready for grey hair sooner than I think. Maybe it’ll suit me. Maybe I’m wrong about French dentists. Maybe we’ll discover a new range of spa products to replace Sanctuary. Maybe clutter will never again be an issue because we’ll buy so much less out there to begin with and will have decluttered to the max before going. I’ll still go to train stations, with the brood. There’ll still be times I’m away from Ben and the kids, shopping or having a spa day if I’m lucky. There’ll be new rituals, new favourites and new old nostalgic sights, smells, sounds and tastes. We’ll build our new life in France mouthful by mouthful, bite by bite.