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Spanish Secrets: A Foreign Land

After visiting their former home territory in Yorkshire, Craig and Melanie Briggs are glad to be back in Galicia. "Here I feel in harmony with the environment, content and happy,'' says Craig.

“We had a great holiday, but I’m glad to be back home”.

A common statement made by returning holiday makers the world over, the meaning of which, until now, has eluded me.

With the exception of a trip to Kenya in equatorial Africa, where I was unfortunate enough to contract malaria, returning home has always been the last thing on my mind. Financial constraints excepted, I would have been more than happy never to return home.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons we now live in Galicia, Northern Spain, and why we were glad to return home despite having a wonderful holiday, in England of all places.

Our holiday began on April 19. We’d planned our route driving east across Northern Spain, and through the Pyrenees. We’d booked an overnight stop in Saintes, Southern France, before travelling north to the ferry port of Calais.

Unquestionably, Northern Spain must have some of the most beautiful and spectacular scenery in the world. From our starting point in Ourense the main highway climbs steeply up the mountains and into the clouds. Later it snakes its way, like a giant Anaconda, through deep gorges as far as the eye can see. Towering, snow capped mountains carpeted in deep green coniferous forests ascend steeply to the valley below.

Twisting and turning the highway reaches the Spanish plains, a vast area of cultivated fields stretching beyond the horizon. Heading north we passed the cathedral city of Burgos. Once again the landscape changed as we approached the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Here Swiss style chalets are the predominant architectural style, even the language of public signs and notices changes, this is Basque country.

We crossed the border into France and within an hour we arrived at our overnight destination of Saintes.

In contrast to Spain, the French countryside appears very flat. The journey through France is less remarkable for its scenery than the nation’s love of modern design. Unusual road bridges, quirkily built industrial premises and electricity pylons looking like inter-stellar trees from the cover of a sci-fi novel, greet the visiting traveller.

The following day we continued northward, skirting Paris and making an impromptu and unintentional visit to Versailles. Once we’d found our way again, it was up to Calais and a short ferry crossing to Dover, England.

We had a wonderful holiday in England, staying with both family and friends, visiting; London, Wolverhampton in the Midlands, Warton (close to Morecombe bay in Lancashire), our home town of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, and Nottingham.

We indulged, and overindulged, in such culinary delights as fish and chips, growlers (pork pies), full cooked English breakfasts, Indian cuisine and Chinese takeaways. I also enjoyed drinking traditional English ales with such proud British names as Spitfire Bitter and Saint George’s Best.

But for all England’s pleasures, we were happy to return home to Spain. From the moment we arrived in Dover I felt in competition with the environment. It was as if people’s lives were filled with materialistic stresses and strains. Marketing has subliminally invaded everyone’s existence, and people are swimming against a tide of expectation.

After only three years away from England it’s now like visiting a foreign land. Here in Galicia I feel in harmony with the environment, content and happy.

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