The better half

I felt maybe it was time you heard from Irene’s better half, Mark, so I’ve just found her laptop left on and here I am!

So, would you like an insight from the other point of view? An English man getting together with a Basque girl?!

I am sure she will be fine with my little interruption and if you are reading this, she either hasn’t spotted it yet or she is fine with it! If you are not reading this right now then she has removed it and you’ve missed out :-)

So, it is almost a year after I fell for the girl who came to visit from Spain, and it’s been a whirlwind of travel, fun, change and excitement! Incidentally, her name is pronounced ‘eee-ray-neee’, I like to clarify that for folk as it stops you thinking I am now living with a 60 year old English woman.

As Irene has told you, she is from northern Spain and I am from northern England. The best way I explain to people about where she is from is likened to Wales. It is attached to England and is part of the UK, but has its own language, strong values, history and a different culture. The Basque country is just like this in relation to Spain.

The first thing I realised was the language barrier when I first went across to visit. I sadly don’t speak Spanish, yet, but I am pretty damn good at English. Thankfully nearly everyone in the Basque Country speaks two languages. Unthankfully they are Spanish and Basque! So when I go over to Zarautz the only person I can speak to comfortably is Irene! Can you imagine what it must be like to be completely unable to speak to your partners parents? I will leave that for those of you who are married to think about for a few seconds :-)

So I have to rely on Irene to be honest and translate everything for me, they could honestly be saying anything about me! The rest of the time I sit and listen to what can only best be described as high speed noises and lots of arm movements. But what a lovely family and amazing people!

Honestly, I was thrown by their family values, loyalties to each other, the community caring for each other, complete lack of crime in Zarautz or public issues and their passion for the outdoors and being healthy, basically everything you would want in your home town is right there in Zarautz.

The food culture is fantastic, and a massive change for me. I would never have envisaged enjoying octopus for a New Year ’s Eve meal! It has opened up a whole new world of how to enjoy different foods, especially fish! The Basque Country is noted for its culinary delights and it doesn’t disappoint at all.

However, there are some slight scratch my head moments with the food there. They love, no adore, actually no, they crave chocolate! I have never seen isles in supermarkets so full of chocolate varieties, and I don’t mean sweets. I mean things like having a full bowl of melted chocolate served with fresh bread, for breakfast is normal! And if you ever wish to buy shares in the Basque Country I would probably recommend you buy them in Nesquik! It is EVERYWHERE!

Don’t get me wrong, they easily accommodate my English tastes when I am there. Quite happily I get to enjoy a normal cereal breakfast, served as milk in a cup and the cereal poured in as and when I want some, they don’t understand why I would need a bowl. It MUST be crunchy cereal otherwise I am looked at strangely!

But what beautiful people and scenery. Basically, imagine it like the best area of the Lake District in Cumbria but with sun and the cleanest of beaches. Walking is a must, and regularly walking 3 or 4 miles from town to town is a standard “breath of fresh air” for the locals, with clean public drinking water on tap available everywhere you go.

I am going to go now as Irene is almost home, but just to give you one last sneak peek into my life with Irene, her mum recently posted a gift across to us. I have never seen her so happy when it arrived.

What was it you ask? Well, it weighed 12kgs and brought her the home comforts of home right here in the good old UK.

Could it have been Basque music cds? A nice picture for the wall of people surfing in Zarautz? No where close….

It was simply 12kg of Nesquik…

One month supply!!