I am in Britain at the moment and have spent 2 months travelling the whole country. This is my first visit for over 20 years having lived in Spain and France for that time.
There have been enormous changes since I left and the country I once knew is unrecognisable. Evidence of wide spread prosperity is the first thing I noticed. Massive economic activity manifests itself everywhere. Living in rural France as I do it comes as quite a shock.
The people in the UK of course take it for granted. It’s a given that their living standards are high. Yet they seem to use all their energy to seek and strive constantly for more of the same, or perhaps simply to maintain what they have. In doing so people have changed.
Intolerance and a certain distain for others is common. This may be because of the lack of personal space and the fact that everyone lives on top of each other. That creates massive tensions. Its very hard to be alone, even walking on a Scottish mountain.
The pace of life is frenetic the traffic horrendous and there is never anywhere to park. This even in pretty market towns in the north of the country.
Then there is the constant surveillance by CCTV. In shops, on the road, at the doctors, in the street, even walking down a country lane. Signs ordering you to do this and that on penalty of financial purgatory. Rules and more rules bark at you from every corner.
The country has become like a giant school playground with teachers and prefects just waiting for you to transgress.
The only part of the UK which seems relatively untouched are parts of rural Scotland and the Highlands. There the clock has stopped, the people wonderful and the quality of life high.
I have considered moving back before making this trip. Spending the autumn of my years back in the old country.
The experience has taught me all the reasons I left in the first place are still there, only now much worse. New irritations which for me make life intolerable have arrived.
So the moral of this for other ex-pats thinking of returning is this. Go there travel around, spend sometime in the country before making any decision. The grass is not any greener.
You may find like me you cannot wait to leave. I return home next week, probably for good.