Tenerife Tales
An Ex Pat´s Life On A Rock In The Atlantic by Sue Havenhand

Where do Ex Pats Really Call Home?

I write this time from the UK due to an unscheduled trip following a family bereavement. For some time I have  held the view that you have to be away from your home country for a good while to appreciate what it really has going for itself. In these difficult times the grass does indeed seem greener at home, in more ways than one. But where do we call home? After almost 13 years of living in Tenerife I still refer to the UK as “home” and to my return to Tenerife as “going back”. I know others however who would not share my opinion, it is very much a personal thing.

“Yorkshire – Gorgeous”

If home is where the heart is then mine never really left Yorkshire if I am honest. I would never regret the move to Tenerife however, the island has been good to us, and I would not have my much-loved son had I stayed in the UK. But now? I don’t know. It becomes increasingly harder to stay afloat, everyone is scratching around for what work there is and desperation brings out the worst in many. The phrase “selling your own Grandmother” springs to mind, and it’s not pretty.

Yet what are the options? As much as I am still very much in love with England, I am not naive enough to believe that it is not without its problems, and that carving out a living there is a challenge indeed. But the safety net provided by family and friends surely makes the idea a little more tempting?

Pontefract Castle circa 17th Century. Oliver Cromwell took it upon himself to fire cannon balls at it, but its ruins remain today.

One of the draws of England, for me, is the sense of belonging. Try as I might, even after all this time I simply do not feel this in Tenerife. I feel like a guest in someone else’s house, and like a fraud gate crashing their fiestas. Yet I return to Yorkshire, look around my home town and feel so very much at home. It may not be perfect, but its mine. Is it real or is it nostalgia? Would I desperately miss Tenerife if I returned to the UK, miss living near a great beach, miss the fact that my son can jump in the pool after school, miss not needing a bank loan to buy a bottle of wine? Maybe. Possibly. Probably. We will have to see, as at some point we will return “home” on a permanent basis. Until then, a twice yearly fix is the order of the day.


7 Responses to “Where do Ex Pats Really Call Home?”

  1. Another well thought out and well written piece Sue. As you well know we are retired in Tenerife and therefore are not subject to the stresses and strains of trying to find gainful if not always enjoyable employment. However, and we’ve only been in Tenerife for 7 years, we share most all of your sentiments

  2. agreed sue, home is where the heart is.. but i think a little perspective is in order.as you say, 13 yrs have passed since we departed englands green & “pleasant” land, & my, how things have changed. friends, work collegues etc have all moved on, as we have in tenerife. i found on my month long trip in 09, the novelty of having you back “home” soon wears thin (or maybe its just me..dont answer that! ). people havent the money to spend on trips to meadowhall, white rose etc.. or even a trip down the local. also those narrow minded, vindictive souls who begrudged us earning a crust ” doing a bit of singing” are still around. be careful. rose tinted glasses worn during a 2 week stay can suddenly become smudged….i love yorkshire, always will, but my heart is in my home. san miguel. see you soon. x

  3. mmmm very thoughtful piece in todays economic climate. Especially the bit out what it does to people all seeking to keep heads above the water.
    However as a newcomer of less than a year i have to say, i am so shocked about how much of the mentality on the island is so governed by the ‘ me first’ attitude. In some cases. However there are still the folks who will help out others, or animal charities for the sheer love of helping another living being on this planet.
    Times were also getting tough in u.k. however i never experienced anything like the same attitude over there ( at home, in Sues, words).
    I wonder what the difference ishere? smaller island & community,i wonder?
    Except having lived in a smallish village where people did do things for each other for free, & didnt all seem to talk behind each others backs . Makes me wonder if what is missing is that certain sense of community.

  4. Home is where the heart is, and mine at the moment 11 years down the line is still here in Tenerife. Although I am always the first to say I’m Yorkshire born and bred and very proud of it. I do enjoy a few rare trips back to Yorkshire to catch up with friends and my brother, but the weather in the UK always makes me long to come back to the reef, Life is certainly no easier here than anywhere else although because we live on a holiday Island people seem to think we are on a permanent holiday, not so, as you all well know, we dont have the support network we have in the Uk, We also know that is also true with the animals, when you look around RSPCA and PDSA departments in the UK, to the fight we have here on Tenerife trying to make abandoned animals lifes worth living. We are lucky we have such lovely people like Eugenio etc and all of you that work so hard trying to make a difference.
    So for the time being my heart is still in the sun, although Yorkshire always pulls at my heartstrings.

  5. You sound so wistful Sue and yet I suspect that what Robbie Dominic says is true and that the Yorkshire you move back to would not be the one you enjoy on your visits home. I call Tenerife ‘home’, for now. My kids are small and this is where they will grow up. When they fly the coop … I have no idea where my next home will be but it won’t be Cumbernauld, Scotland that’s for sure.

  6. i too love tenerife and now we reired we off for the winter with the idea maybe settle there i love england but the sunsine over there is better mmm anyone who can tell me the best place if we do stop for good or what they enjoy there we have a beautful husky dog which i wont leave so she would come too anyone any idea how much too geta dog over there. i no its hot for her but she loves the heat here she always in the sun and when the snow comes she moans too come in a husky mmmm

  7. An enjoyable sensitive piece, things are not what they were anywhere, the difference in Tenerife is the sunshine.

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