Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Expats again

Nicely settled in Amsterdam, I was in for a nasty surprise. Perhaps not such a surprise.

I worked for an agency contracting programming staff for airline systems. A very small and specialised world. With maybe a dozen sites in Europe. Just one in Holland: KLM. There had always been a good chance that I'd be sent outside Holland.

And indeed I was. Even worse, it was to the UK. A country I really didn't want to live in. Worse still, it was Swindon. A fairly bleak new town, mostly, Apart from a few old bits in the centre, and, of  course, the Railway Village. 

We moved into a cardboard house on a monochrome estate on the western edge of town. With a lovely view of the bypass. Admittedly, with beautiful countryside behind that.At least Swindon is located in a lovely part of England.

I'd become an expat in my own country. I had no intention of staying and hadn't cut my ties with Holland. We rented a flat in Rotterdam and flew over every other weekend.

Swindon wasn't all gloom. There were quite a few decent pubs and quite a choice of beer. The two local breweries, Archers and Arkells. The former quite young and the latter more than a century old. Both brewed good beer. My favourite being Arkells BBB. A rich Best Bitter very much in the Southwestern style. Very drinkable. Some nice pubs in their estate, too.

Archers had the Gluepot, one of the pubs in the Railway Village. I seem to remember it had three of four of their beers in cask form. I think I mostly drank their Village Bitter. "Nutty and smooth" according to the 1987 Good Beer Guide.A pleasant enough Cooking Bitter.

There was one Morrells pub, selling the rare Dark Mild*. A lovely beer. I don't understand why it wasn't more popular. Oh, I do. Because it was called "Mild". Wadworths 6X was on in a couple of pubs. A reliable beer, at the time. Not that bitter, but packed with flavour.

A really good curryhouse. That's something else Swindon had going for it. Good rail connections, too. 

But it was never going to be my permanent home. Just a two-year assignment. 24 months and I could become an immigrant again.

* Looking in the Good Beer Guide, I see that it's 1036º. Exactly the same as their Bitter. What's the betting it was the Bitter with added caramel?

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