One of the things I look forward to during my visits to the UK is some retail therapy. Not that I am complaining about the shops in Tenerife as I can generally get everything I need, particularly foodstuffs. I think the Spanish equivalent of UK brands that we are familiar with is excellent. I do, however, look forward to clothes shopping, there used to be so much more choice, particularly pretty underwear which is difficult to buy as the average size on the island seems to be small, despite so many young women having boob jobs and anything that I would call normal, 36C is like finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. Of course, you can buy these if you are prepared to go to Santa Cruz and pay extortionate prices in El Corte Ingles or if you are happy to shop at one of the weekly markets, which I am not. Hence, top of my list of must dos is a visit to Marks and Spencer.
When I lived in the UK, my favourite M&S was at the Meadows in Camberley, which I think is about the second or third largest in the country. They always had such a huge choice on everything from clothes to foodstuffs. I loved to wander around their bedding department and at one time ended up with a cupboard full of duvet covers that I am still opening from new almost 10 years on. This year however when I made my annual pilgrimage I was hard pushed to buy anything. The store was almost empty of customers; the seasonal buzz was missing, as were the Christmas decorations. I left ‘almost’ empty handed apart from some underwear even then I didn´t have the choice I expected as in this particular store everything was HUGE, are there really so many women that are a 40G?
Determined not to be disappointed, I trotted off to Camberley, Guildford and Farnborough but all in vein. What I found was row upon row of closed shops. The only places that were in abundance, though still not thriving, were the charity shops. The recession seems to have hit hard in the normal prosperous SE of England and it was quite depressing.
I do hear many ex-pats say that life on Tenerife is hard at the moment and they are considering returning to the UK. The experience of living abroad can heighten your sense of Britain’s distinctiveness. They miss the vibrancy, the history, the variation in weather, the TV and good real ales. Whether that’s a good or bad thing depends on the individual. In my case, I miss it less and less each time I go back and after just a few days, I am hankering after the certain comfort in coming home. I can honestly say that Tenerife is now my home, I can´t wait to get back. It has is faults, but then so does everywhere in the world. So for me, I’ll stick with the sun, the sand and the limited choice when buying clothes!