IT’S the jingles at Mercadona, a short stroll to his padel club and, of course, the goldfish bowl g&ts which will be sorely missed when Laurence Dollimore returns to Blighty
It’s common knowledge among expats that if you survive your first five years in Spain you will never look back.
But just days before reaching this milestone I’ll be on a flight home to Blighty to start a new chapter in London.
And while the hustle and bustle of the capital excites me, there are parts of Spanish culture I will sorely miss.
It goes without saying this includes the 300-plus days of sunshine and the cheap tapas and cañas after a hard day’s work – which Shoreditch and its ilk have repeatedly tried and failed to replicate.
But while we all love Spain for it’s great food and weather, it’s the every-day normalities I will find most lacking in London.
I will no longer say ‘hola’ – or ‘hello’ – to strangers in a shop or on the street, and definitely not on the tube, unless I want to be sectioned.
I will no longer go for churros on a Sunday morning, or enjoy late night walks without having to look over my shoulder.
Coffee will be overpriced and served in far too large of a cup, and I won’t receive marinated olives or ‘cho chos’ with each round of drinks (be careful when you’re ordering the latter, if you know, you know).
There won’t be an independent tapas bar on every corner, but a Pret A Manger or McDonald’s.
And when I ask for a gin and tonic it won’t be served in a fish bowl, but probably a test tube glass, and I’ll be asked ‘single or double?’ – perdona?
I will no longer have everything I need just a short walk away, including my padel tennis club.
And I won’t get that blissful end of September feeling when the tourists go home and we have an Indian summer and we get our beaches all to ourselves.
And what will replace my local summer feria and Semana Santa processions?
Let’s be real, I’m sure London can offer up enough culture for me to get my fix. Let’s face it Notting Hill Carnival is one hell of a party, if it’s allowed to take place.
And moving back home won’t be all bad. One thing I will appreciate is the efficiency of the UK.
At least I will have reliable public transport (mostly), banks will open past 3pm and I will never again be forced to endure Spanish bureaucracy – those of you who have had an ITV or been through the residency process will know the pain I speak of.
But what will I do without Mercadona and its catchy jingle? The supermarkets at home just don’t spark the same amount of joy.
At least when I’m driving I’ll be safer, as unlike in Spain, drivers know how to use their indicators.
I’ll also no longer fear being taken out by a bus on the motorway, which is where their stops are often conveniently placed along the Costa del Sol.
Jokes aside, it’s been an incredible five years in Malaga (with a few months in Sevilla) and I’ve met some amazing people in the expat community during my time as an investigative reporter.
Yes, I have caught paedophiles and exposed countless crooks and fraudsters, but they are just a small minority and do not represent the community, which is made of mostly good, honest and hardworking people.
If the job market was as competitive as back home, there would be no chance of me leaving.
But alas, no country has it all, although Spain comes pretty damn close.