Accepting Differences

My move from Paris to Manchester has been a remarkably smooth process and I haven’t felt as overwhelmed as I expected. This largely due to the wonderful support I have received from my extended family members who have been looking after me and taking me to wonderful places. I think it is also because moving to England is a bit like moving back to Australia, only the buildings are older, the weather is colder and the people say strange, strange things like pronouncing ‘castle’ as “cAssle” instead of “cAAAARRRRstle”. Weird.

I am, however, having to come to terms with some significant differences between Manchester and Paris. While I miss Paris and my friends, I am not desperately wishing to return and am enjoying myself in Manchester. But there are a few key things that I am having to get used to.

Public Transport
It’s rubbish. I am now very aware at how well organised the public transport in Paris is. Here in Manchester, I have had many long waits standing in biting winds and snow waiting for a tram/bus/train that is delayed or apparently non-existant. Last night, for example, I had planned my evening so that I would prepare my dinner and then at 7.30pm catch a tram to Salford Quays to watch a group of people running and dancing around in costumes covered in LEDs. I was very keen to see the performance and it was only going to be on between 8-9pm. At 7.30pm I was at Deansgate tram stop waiting for two possible trams and as I froze to death in the siberian winds that are currently caressing Europe. Half an hour later, neither tram had arrived, despite them apparently coming every 12 minutes. I gave up and went home as I was completely numb, generally annoyed and wouldn’t have been able to see much of the performance if a tram had eventually arrived. This experience made waiting 4 minutes for the next train on the Paris Metro seem very insignificant. Considering these are the only trams that go to the area where the performance was, it wasn’t the best service.

Chain Restaurants
In the three weeks I have spent in Manchester, I have eaten at two chain restaurants and been informed they are good. I have been to a Pizza Express and a Tampopo (which describes itself as an “Asian restaurant”. Hmmm…) My food snobbery has reared its head as I can’t accept that a restaurant chain is a good eating option. Sure – it’s cheap, edible and it isn’t McDonalds – but the food is produced following detailed instructions and is in no way influenced by the person cooking it. Both meals were ‘ok’ but could have been prepared by anyone. The menus don’t change depending on seasons and there is no care, precision or passion in the food. It’s just something to eat. I am looking forward to trying some real restaurants with real chefs in the near future.

Meal Times
Following the food theme, I have also eaten dinner at 5.30pm twice. Sure, both times were because we were going to see a theatre performance, but if this was in Paris then we would have something to eat after the show at 10pm. Most restaurants in Manchester are filling up by 6.30pm and many have special ‘Early Bird’ specials if you eat before 7pm. This does remind me of being back in Perth but I had grown to love the long after-work event of an apero at 6.30pm followed by dinner around 8.30pm in Paris. I hope that summer time will slow things down in England but I doubt it will be the case.

I was overwhelmingly relieved to receive a REAL loaf of bread when my brother came to visit on Tuesday. There are no real bakeries, no real patisseries and finding decent baked goods is very, very hard. I miss my daily trip to the boulangerie to buy a fresh baguette. I also miss real cheese, although I am enjoying some good English cheddar. At least I have dark chocolate digestives. They make me a very happy girl.

Thankfully I still don’t understand half of what is being said around me so I can live in a bubble of blissful ignorance as people talk around me in strange accents and saying odd things. It is wonderful.

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8 Responses to “Accepting Differences”

  1. James says:

    Yeah, Britain’s lack of bakeries suck! They are getting better, there are some artisan bakeries opening up around the place, but still it’s mostly Greggs. Ugh. Actually Greggs overtook most local bakeries a few years ago like some horrible parasitic infection.

  2. Sonia Bahri says:

    Good luck my friend. I miss you too

  3. Katy says:

    Come and visit me & my hometown this winter. We have a lovely little bakery at the bottom of the road and plenty of one-off restaurants, as well as some really quite decent more commercialised numbers. Eating at restaurants is still a once-a-week or less thing really, so you will find options more limited unless you head in to major cities (at least that is how it is in the south, im only assuming that its the same in the north). But you are also correct that public transport SUCKS!!! Do you have your bike? Invest in a big, sturdy chain, or buy a cheap and cheerful car. Good luck adapting – England is very different to France ( not just language-wise) and the further north you get, the more different everything is. Take a trip up to Scotland. It’s awesome, but REALLY, REALLY different 🙂
    Enjoy this adventure.
    Katy x

  4. Jess says:

    Gregg’s is the blurst. I am morally obliged not to step foot in one as it would be going against both my core values and my brother’s business.

  5. Jess says:

    Ooooh I’d love to come and visit!! Are you coming to England?? You have to come up and see Ben’s bakery and I’ll come and we can all dance together!! Imagine that… although, that said, I’ll definitely come and visit your home town 😀
    I don’t have a bike – I always used the city bikes in Paris. Wouldn’t mind getting a bike though – it is easier to get around and will mean I won’t need to bother with stupid buses.
    But if restaurants are only once a week, why go to a rubbish one??

  6. Jess says:

    Merci petite! Tu me manque beeeaaauuucccooouuuupppp! Deux semaines et je serai à Paris!! Bisous!

  7. Come to Cheshire, we have bakeries (not Greggs). In fact we have lots of authentic pubs and stuff, not so many chain restaurants.

  8. Jess says:

    I’d love to come! Will need to come and visit 🙂

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