Thursday, 26 August 2010

It's not the same .... and yet it is, in a way!

Isn’t it amazing how quickly one adapts? Here we are, two weeks to the day since we returned from Galicia to the UK and I’ve got used to wearing layers of clothes so that I can adjust my dress according to the vagaries of northern English weather: three, occasionally four seasons all in the space of 24 hours. It must be an example of the two/three/four for the price of one offers that you see all over the place.

I have been taking advantage of my free bus-pass to get around, making several trips into Manchester city centre. Now, if you visit the Arndale Centre, a much improved place since they re-built it after the bomb that blew most of it up all those years ago, you will find that English shoppers suffer from all the faults that my friend Colin and I have noticed in Spanish shoppers. They stop and congregate in major thoroughfares for a chat, regardless of how many people might want to go past them. They drift or occasionally charge out of shop doorways without so much as a passing glance for folk going past. They don’t just stop to admire friends’ babies in new shiny buggies; they barge onto you with the new shiny buggies. When their mobile phone rings they come to a halt wherever they are to answer it: in a shop doorway, just outside a lift, wherever is the most inconvenient place for everyone else.

This behaviour, so similar to that of their Spanish counterparts, occurs far less frequently in ordinary shopping streets. Maybe it’s a question of climate. Inside an indoor shopping centre they don’t have to be concerned about the weather and so they can come to a halt whenever they want without fear of freezing to the spot on an August day.

As we have a family wedding coming up I have spent some time helping my daughter find outfits for herself and her children. (I myself have been very organised and bought my posh frock on my last visit to the UK.) In the process of doing this I have discovered something new in Kendal’s store in Manchester which has “outlets” for a whole range of fashion shops. Mango is there but Zara is not. (Interestingly enough I have never spotted a Zara “outlet” in any of the Spanish stores. Inditex must like to keep their independence.) All the usual suspects from the British high street are there, of course, but what got me just a little excited was discovering that Desigual has an “outlet”. That’s nice because I can go and look at their brightly coloured designs and pretend that I’m back in Vigo.

The shops here, as in Spain, are full of BACK TO SCHOOL notices. School uniform features in window displays and the bargain offers are there for all to see. The big difference is that BACK TO SCHOOL is seriously close here. GCSE results came out this Tuesday, two days earlier than usual, and as a result all my former colleagues at the sixth form college are back at work, busily enrolling this year’s students. Some of the primary schools begin the new term in the middle of next week.

I guess that’s the summer over and done with. That’s usually a sign for the weather to perk up and give us some sunshine in September. I’m not holding my breath and just in case the Indian summer does not materialise her we have already booked ourselves a couple of weeks in Mallorca in October. Time to go on our travels again, methinks!

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