It's the last week of term at my old school, Bangkok Patana. My teacher friends are frantically busy getting ready for the holidays; be it packing for school improvements, organising end of term assemblies or planning final lessons - it is full on. I remember that buzz only too well and just a teeny bit of me misses it, but, to be honest, not too much. It is hard to think that it is nearly a whole academic year since I left my role as Head of Libraries. Since then I've spent a good chunk of time back in Broughton, Lincolnshire hanging out with my oldies and living the life of a retired 50 something, let's pretend I'm cool, Porsche driver! What with blogging and reading and writing and swimming, I really don't have time to go to work any more!
Although it was only three weeks ago that we were all together for Betsy's school graduation, I, like my teacher friends, can't wait for the end of term as my Saint Mick of Thana and Betsy will be coming home to Broughton, soon to be joined by Annie. (A.K.A I'm a poor student but I've just been to Malta and I'm heading to Italy tomorrow - good on her I say!)
I woke up this morning thinking about which place I liked living in best - good old Blighty, specifically Broughton, or Bangkok?
Weather - let's start with the important stuff ...
Bangkok - it's more predictable in Thailand, if it gets under 30 degrees everyone gets out their winter coats (I'm not even joking) and when it pours it really pours. This also gives you a 'get-out free pass; for being late for absolutely any occasion, regardless of the gravitas of it. There's also the pull of sun, sea and sand almost all the year round.
Broughton - like the rest of the UK, Broughton's weather is a great talking point. A trip to the seaside is suddenly cancelled because of chance of light showers, the summer comes early in April and disappears in June. The heat wave (there's bound to be one), is inevitably going to be moaned about. All good fun!
I have loved watching the seasonal changes this year though - the first chance in over twenty plus years to see Autumn turn into winter and so on has been a highlight...
And the winner for me is ... Broughton. I know one Saint Mick though who will definitely disagree.
Broughton - Getting to hang out with my oldies is a real pull for Broughton. I am lucky as I enjoy my parents' company a lot. Me and dad are often out and about getting into all sorts of mischief! I really need 'L plates' when steering his wheelchair. I like to think that my mum and dad enjoy my company too (at least a little bit!) and I can help out. When I'm not here I ring a lot, but it is not the same as living across the road - obvs! You might think that when I'm in the UK I'd see Annie more, but weirdly this year I've spent far more time with Annie during her not infrequent visits to Thailand. A plus is I do get to see my brother and his wife and other family in the UK and form stronger bonds than just a quick trip in the summer enables. My brother also happens to be great at DIY - an added bonus! There are two gorgeous babies in our family now as well so the chance to see more of them is going to be great.
Bangkok - Well my lovely Saint Mick is in Bangkok so that's reason enough for me to choose it. There's nothing quite like having a cup of tea with the old fella as he sits in his Lazy Boy recliner tapping on his laptop, whilst I moan that he is always working! Betsy has been there too so it will be strange next year, when fingers crossed, she will be at York or Hull Uni.
And the winner on family is .. A draw. In my Embrace the Change blog post I explored the advantages and disadvantages of living betweeen two countries. I maintain that a 'time share' is possible. I just wish Bangkok and Broughton were a bit closer.
Broughton - Well, it's sad to say that my visits never coincide with school reunions and I've been away for such a long time that I don't have any. Oh my god, that really is sad! That's unless you count my parents' friends, and I have always liked 'more mature' people so I won't worry about my 'billy-no-mate status' too much! There's one other big attraction in Broughton and that's the great sense of community and lovely neighbours that I have. There is a real sense that if you need anything someone will help, and that is not there in a big city.
Bangkok - You can't live somewhere for 17 years and not make a good network of friends and there's nothing like a good natter to lift the spirits. I read this article about it just yesterday. I think when any expat relocates, especially after a long time, this loss of having friends close by shouldn't be underestimated. It's like being a third culture kid, but grown up - a 'third culture adult?'! So all I can say is thank goodness for text. I have really appreciated those friends who have taken the time and effort, even though busy themselves to keep in touch this year.
And the winner is ... Bangkok, no question.
Broughton - well I can't pretend it is the hub of restaurants, cinemas, cafes or anything like that. There is a good swimming pool close by though - Ancholme Leisure Centre and a good bookshop at Waterstones in Lincoln, so that will do me. Along with our adventures when the whole family is back - this year we're doing a tour of Scotland - I'm not complaining. I also know that for families and pensioners there are loads of things put on in the village, so if you are keen to join things and get inovolved there is plenty to enjoy.
Bangkok - There's tons to do, but I think it is linked to friends and the attractions for me, don't hold that much value without them. I like to go Mahidol University to listen to the Thai Philharmonic Orchestra, but I wouldn't do it without my fab music chum Rachel. (Check out her great blog here.) I also love to swim with my, ironically called, Athletes group. Thana City Country Club is ten minutes walk from home and does top the leisure centre here, but hey... too much sun is bad for you. The restaurants in Bangkok are magnificent in quantity and quality, but I'm a creature of habit, and I've yet to find a really good fish and chip shop there so the jury is out on that one.
Overall though the winner is Bangkok, but I'm not really bothered!
So, looking at the above, there's pros and cons to both. If it was on place only, then it would be Bangkok, but it is 'people not places' that matter. That means, with family and also friends soon heading back this way, right now Broughton is the hands down winner. BUT, ask me again in August when we head back to Bangkok and I suspect the answer might be different.