Catalans Abroad

Down to the Wigan River

Why did you leave Catalonia?

We had a child and my husband's working hours meant he wouldn't see enough of him. He worked in a state school and then a private language academy. He only got home after 10 o'clock at night. My own situation as a secondary school teacher wasn't looking too healthy, so that helped us make our decision.

Why did you choose England?

My husband is from Wigan, in the north of England. We have family and friends here, so it was the obvious choice. Wigan is in Lancashire, between Liverpool and Manchester.

How long have you lived there?

We moved here in July 2013 and moved into our own house in October of the same year.

Are you happy with the job opportunities you found in your adoptive country?

Not really. I've worked at the local rugby stadium and at present work in a secondary school. They're good jobs, but they're not very well paid. The only reason I got them is because they were convenient to our situation in terms of working hours and closeness to home.

What do you think is the best thing about living in the north of England?

The people are very open and welcoming. The image I had of the serious, maybe boring English person is just a myth (at least here).

What do you consider the highlights for any brief visit for the first time would be?

We're right in the middle of two fantastic cities, Liverpool and Manchester. The culture, history and music in both is worth the visit alone. Chester was an important Roman settlement and is surrounded by lovely little villages.

And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?

You have to visit the Forest of Bowland and then carry on up to the Lake District. The scenery is truly breathtaking and there is lots to do if you are looking for outdoor activities.

What do you miss most from home?

Tomato Orlando! Of course I miss my family and the weather (even the Lleida fog). I miss not having to wait to see if it's going to rain before going for a walk. Paelles a l'hort on a Sunday afternoon are something I really look forward to when we go back.

Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?

We go back at Easter, alternate Christmases and every summer. It's important for us that our son knows his Catalan family and understands Catalan culture and the language.

Laura ferraz vilalta is from Golmés (Lleida). She lives in Wigan,England, and works as a teaching assistant, responsible for EAL students , (English as an Additional language)

SOME SUGGESTIONS

Can you recommend a place to have lunch with friends?

Derby House is a converted stables in the nearby village of Standish. They sell locally produced beers, some good wines and all the food is made to order.

Where would you have a special dinner for two?

We recently discovered a restaurant called Thyme and Plaice 20 minutes out of Wigan. It's a converted pub run by a family. The food was fantastic and the service was superb.

Another favourite is the High Moor restaurant in Wrightington. They serve British cuisine such as venison, partridge, rabbit and duck. The actual building was built in 1642.

When is the best time of the year to plan a visit?

The British weather is famously unpredictable, so coming in summer doesn't guarantee you sun. Christmas here is really special and there are Christmas markets in both Liverpool and Manchester. There's a Dickensian Christmas festival in the town of Grasmere, just over an hour north.

What is the best kept secret about the area?

It's so green and there's so much nature. I'd always imagined England, especially the north, to be factories and grey. I have a forest behind my house with foxes, deer, pheasants and lots more.

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