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Friday February 21, 2014

Expat Guilty Pleasures Back in Blighty

For someone who has fairly effortlessly absorbed Spanish culture lock, stock and barrel, I have a guilty admission: I still get my hair cut in London. There, it’s out of the bag. An end to subterfuge and blustering about how there are no vestiges of my previous girl about town life that I miss. And let’s not discuss books, tea and cobblers.

Of course there are good hairdressers in Majorca and if one drives to Palma there are cobblers galore but not in my mountain town. The last time I handed in a pair of shoes for re-heeling they were sent away heaven knows where and didn’t reappear for a month by which time I’d completely forgotten about them. In our valley there are accomplished hairdressers but I have been visiting my old friends at Mahogany in Mayfair for more than 15 years and cannot imagine breaking that tie. Aside from being excellent hair stylists I have got to know the staff, watched the company develop and feel rather mother hen like at the achievements of the current directors whom I’ve known for years. What’s not to like?

And it’s the same with my shoes. I have been going to Sole Man in Shepherd Market, a little hole in the wall of a dry cleaners and cobblers, for as long as I can remember. Within 24 hours this little fix-it joint will mend under par shoes, cut keys, put up hems, make repairs and return dry cleaning often at a better price than in my idyll in the Majorcan hills. As a leaf tea junkie, I enjoy nothing more than collecting my favourite darjeeling blend from Fortnum & Mason on Piccadilly. It’s not expensive and lasts for ages and as I’ve yet to find anything to match it in the tea emporiums of Palma it makes sense to purchase it when I’m flitting by London.

Finally I come to books. In Majorca we are lucky enough to have a few wonderful bijoux bookshops such as Universal and The Bookworm selling the latest English titles but naturally they cannot possibly compete with the likes of Hatchards although they will willingly place orders for clients. So as an inveterate bookshop browser I always find myself gravitating to the nearest store in the UK where I can while away a good hour exploring the different sections.

An expat friend married to a Majorcan who has lived on the island for more than twenty years still returns to London for various foodie indulgences from Marks & Spencer. She also buys dozens of greetings cards, wrapping paper and stationery which she insists are far superior to similar items found in Spain. I have pointed out to her that the British obsession with sending greetings cards for all occasions is met with bemusement by most Spaniards but still she persists.

So I’ve been pondering what other little vices and indulgences are harboured by fellow Britons living abroad. In fact if you’ve got any confessions, now might be a good time to spill the beans!

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