Life’s what you make it – verse 4 – Sister Europe

Wow! What a circus. My goodness what a show. Take a bow Bo. It’s time to ask – have you heard the news?

An excerpt from Funeral Blues by W H Auden feels appropriate to start the latest blog:-

“The stars are not wanted now; put out every one, Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun, 

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the woods; For nothing now can ever come to any good.”

Not exactly a case of life’s what you make it? Don’t worry, this is not the start of a feast of doom. Just a reflection on the not so United Kingdom turning its back on the European Union and folding the EU stars flag away – for now.

However, as a proud European, I can’t help but reflect on my passion for Europe. I guess it’s also a love of travel. Now, don’t get me wrong, there are many, many magnificent places to visit in a Great Britain. So many we are eager to visit. Be that the rolling hills of Scotland, the lush greenery of North Ireland, the diverse and dramatic coastline of England, or …………………. Wales.

But, as I’ve got older, my feeling of being part of a greater Europe has grown stronger. A feeling of pride at being a European has developed.

A lot of this, probably, has grown as Great Britain has taken on a much more diverse landscape with regards to our population. You either embrace things, or you just become a sad little islander.

That said, I’m in a space in life when I hear an English voice abroad, I’m kind of disappointed. There’s so many things about the British influence on mainland Europe that embarrass me. Great big boards outside bars advertising the long list of sporting events that they are going to show over the following days. That said, one bar we visited in Ibiza had at least 4 games on at the same time.

I’m not knocking what other people want when they visit the mainland, but sometimes holiday resorts in Europe resemble holiday resorts in England – apart from the weather, of course. And, I know, that’s the thing. The weather. We all love good, warm weather and, as I look out of the window right now, in Leeds, it’s grey, it’s cold, it’s raining. It’s Great Britain. But, I accept, it’s also winter.

I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I dream of walking the streets of one of my favourite places to visit – Girona in Catalonia. Looking at the classic architecture, feeling the warmth, whilst listening to the hum of local accents and local language, looking forward to the taste of local cuisine, and smelling the bursts of freshly brewed coffee as we amble passed the array of street cafes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my home city, Leeds. It’s where I’m from and has formed the person I am. I’m proud of Leeds and I love Yorkshire with a passion.

A walk around the centre of Leeds is highly recommended. There is classic, and modern architecture to relish. However, make sure you are prepared for any weather. At any time. Don’t assume sun means warm. The hum of local accents? More of a battering of noise. As for local cuisine and smell of freshly brewed coffee. There’s some of the latter, but probably more prominent is the smell from the multitude of takeaways. The cuisine is varied and, with good recommendations, there are some great places.

It’s all just different. And it should be different. That’s the magic, and that’s a reason why I embrace being European. It’s that feeling of experiencing different things. I guess that’s why I struggle when I see Little Britain on the coast of the mainland. Sure, let’s embrace a bit of a British influence – I don’t mean staggering around drunk at 1pm. I like some of the European influence we have over here.

I like my eyes being opened to the differences. The Wee One and I love walking the streets of the places we visit in Catalonia or Spain of France. It’s fascinating just wandering, looking, and literally feeling the culture. Letting your mind drift to the history of where we are. Listening to the voices of people walking by.

It’s all about being different but remembering we are all the same.

My travel has been limited to Europe and, to be honest, there are so many places still to visit, that may continue to be the case. But I see that we are lucky to be able to travel.

As I said, there are many places on our wonderful island to see but a major issue is our not so wonderful weather. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to at least have a semblance of predictability to our weather. We could then plan a trip. I’m saying this as we get blasted by Storm Bloody Annoying, in which the windows rattle, a newly formed stream flows past the house, and the garden resembles a quagmire from which Ringo trots bloody muddy foot prints around the house. Sorry for swearing.

In essence, life’s what you make it. But, it’s up to us to make it the best we life that we can. If we choose to remain within the boundaries that we set ourselves then that’s just fine. That’s the choice we make.

However, I personally love being part of sister Europe. Being part of this great continent. Being proud to explore the history of the whole of Europe, and feeling part of it.

That’s the life I’m enjoying making. And next time I’m on the mainland, I’ll be proud to feel included as part of the European community.

And, so, let’s crack on with 2020. Let’s stay safe and healthy. It’s a tough time in Great Britain at the moment with various storms and floods. So many people suffering. It’s a sad day today as we mourn the loss of another soul who could no longer cope with her life. Rest In Peace Caroline Flack.

And, we have the global worry as the Coronavirus takes more lives. A worrying time.

Let’s be kind. Let’s be compassionate. Let’s unite and be strong together.


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