Sunday, 22 December 2013

Speakout Advanced p 83. One Expat Warns How Escaping to PARADISE Can Land You in HELL. Extra Reading and Writing

Read this article and write a formal letter to the newspaper in response to it giving your version of what life is like on the island and asking them to print another article. Use the comments below the article to get some ideas of what to say.

Useful language:
Dear Sir/Madam,
I am writing with regard/reference to your article "...", which appeared in your newspaper on...
I am writing to express my concern/disappointment with/ disapproval of/...
I would like to draw your attention to/ point out certain inaccuracies  
I should like to make it clear to readers that the comments made do not apply to....
Firstly/To begin with, the impression given of poor relations between ... is certainly not true of Calvia, where I live.
According to your article, ...
Your article states that... However, ...
Moreover/Furthermore/In addition, the reason why...
In addition to a vast array of social and cultural events, the island offers residents and tourists alike a wide range of activities throughout the year. Seldom does a day go by without a...
I feel I must also disagree with the suggestion that... Indeed, I would like to take this opportunity to invite all your readers to...
Finally, I should also like to point out that...
I would appreciate it if you would...
I would be grateful if you...
It seems only fair that you should... 
I trust you will...  
I very much hope you will print a new article in your newspaper, or alternatively, you could also print this letter instead.  
I am looking forward to... 

Yours faithfully,

As it's revealed 75,000 Britons are emigrating every year. One expat warns how escaping to PARADISE can land you in HELL
For many Britons, facing spiralling food and fuel bills and the prospect of a long and rainy winter, the idea of emigrating must seem tempting. But is sitting in the sun for years on end really such bliss?

Lynnette Evans, 50, a divorcee, has lived in Spain for eight years. Now sick of the shallow and listless lifestyle of the expat, she tells ALISON SMITH why there's no place like home.

“The sun shines almost every day of the year in Puerto Portals, the chic resort on the Spanish island of Mallorca which has been my home for eight years.

Generally, my routine goes something like this: after a morning of doing precisely nothing, I have a lazy lunch with my shopping partner June, who happens to be Simon Cowell's sister and is a fellow expat. After that, I probably have a siesta before heading out to a party in the evening. Sounds idyllic, doesn't it? But if I'm brutally honest, I long for my old way of life in rainy old Britain. After nearly a decade, I am heartily sick of sunshine and shopping. Credit crunch or not, there is nothing that can replace art, culture and that British humour that is so lacking on the Continent.

Most days in Puerto Portals I amble (stroll) between my apartment and the beach, or perhaps wander past the port (a floating millionaires' row of stunning yachts) or the many little bars where I might spot one of my many celebrity neighbours such as Cynthia Lennon (John Lennon's first wife.)

It was fun to begin with, but now I feel unfulfilled - as though an existence here is simply pointless
I laughed out loud when I read that more Britons than ever are moving abroad. They just don't know what they are letting themselves in for. If I'd known eight years ago what I know now, I would never have left Britain.

In September 2000 we arrived in Puerto Portals and moved into a luxury Spanish apartment surrounded by a fabulous swimming pool.

I would say it was my son Chris's first day at private school that made us both truly realise what a massive lifestyle change we had made.

His school had 26 different nationalities in it  -  the majority of pupils coming from families of vast wealth.

Amazingly, some kids were sent to school, decked out in the newest designer gear, with a few hundred euros in their pockets simply to buy themselves a pizza at lunch.

One boy lived in his own flat near the school. His parents occasionally popped over to visit from the States. He was 15.

I would take Chris to sleepovers in vast, white-washed mansions surrounded by high, wrought-iron gates which would swing as the CCTV camera announced our arrival.

Looking back, it was also an introduction to what I grew to dislike about Mallorca  -  the shallowness of many people and their lifestyles, which are about money and little else.

Another clue was the way all my son's friends clamoured to stay at our apartment. It was nowhere near as grand as their fully-staffed mansions, but to these teenagers it felt like a proper home because many of them barely ever saw their wealthy parents.

At first, though, I was taken in by the glamour of my new life.

Puerto Portals is a small place  -  only 2,591 residents  -  and I estimate at least half of them are expats. And as everyone knows everyone, one invitation simply led to another.

Lunch parties are an everyday occurrence. By lunches, I mean gettogethers at one of the many restaurants that line the beach, starting at 1.30pm and rarely finishing before 6pm.

Then there are the evening 'dos' (parties) -  I would be invited to at least three a week. Often, they would be held on board one of the luxury yachts permanently moored in the harbour.

More often than not, their owners were elderly and unattractive men with a beautiful  -  and much younger  -  woman on their arm.

The place is all about image. I have no idea where I will store the 50 or so bags, dozens of evening dresses and numerous shoes I have accumulated when I return to the UK  -  but dressing up is an important part of life in Puerto. You simply don't slum it.

Cosmetic surgery is the norm. I didn't succumb, but I had many friends my age who did. They felt they had to compete with the younger, beautiful women who you see here all the time.

It was common for an acquaintance to drop out of the party scene for a few days only miraculously to reappear looking better than ever (although it wasn't the form to ask why).

Looking back, I blame myself for being blinded by the sheen (shine) of glamour that surrounds the place. It's only with time that you realise just how shallow it all is.

Many of the people are nice enough, but conversations about how much money they have become so boring after a while. I think that's why in Mallorca, like scores of other expat haunts around the world, alcoholism (and other addictions) is rife. After all, what else is there to do all day?

One neighbour of mine squandered £60,000 of savings in six months on slot machines. She'd never had a gambling problem until she was left with endless empty days to fill here.

And then there are the seemingly trivial home comforts that you really miss. For example, the supermarkets here are erratic, stocking your favourite shampoo one week, but not the next.

Good sausages and English bacon are virtually impossible to come by, as are decent tea bags, and the dates on fresh milk are pointless  -  it all goes off within hours  -  so you are forced to buy the unpleasant longlife milk instead.

I long to be able to go up to London and just stroll round a gallery or see a new play.

But there's nothing like that here. If I try to discuss a book, I tend to be met with blank looks because most people here would rather spend their time having their hair done than improving their mind.

Even all that sun is a very mixed blessing. You can tell the Britons who've lived here for decades  -  their skin is the colour of deep mahogany and their abundant wrinkles mean they often look decades older than they really are.

I know of people in their 60s who can never go uncovered in the sun again because their skin is so damaged that they're prone to cancer.

The red tape here has to be seen to be believed  -  nothing can be done over the phone  -  and working here is rife with problems. Rules are there to be broken, it seems, as everything Spanish is corrupt.

Jobs, when you can find them, are very poorly paid and the wages don't always appear on time. Many payments are also made in cash  -  fine, until you reach pensionable age and realise you have no money.

Thankfully, I did keep a smaller property in the UK, in Bexleyheath, which is rented out. I have since remortgaged and am returning to a flat I have bought just outside Worthing, West Sussex. I can't wait.

Visiting my old friends in the UK also made me realise their lives were so much richer than mine. They were all my age  -  early to mid-50s  -  but they were involved in local drama groups, many were working in good jobs and some were setting up their own businesses. Most importantly, their days were full of purpose.

Even the cool British weather was welcome. I'm sick of the heat and humidity in Spain  -  it is incredibly oppressive and leaves you exhausted.

When I came back to Puerto after the last trip home, I saw it with new eyes. I had a vision of me at 60 with my brain slowly rotting and my skin starting to look like a crocodile skin handbag, and I didn't like it.

I have enrolled myself at a college in Britain learning to teach English as a foreign language  -  probably to Spanish people in the UK.

I don't regret coming to live in Spain  -  but only because it has made me appreciate how much England has going for it.

To anyone who is longing to escape the British weather and the current financial gloom, I would say: think very carefully before you book that plane ticket to some corner of the world you think will be a paradise. You might just find it turns out to be hell on earth.


  1. Get a grip woman! (= make an effort to control your emotions) You chose to live a shallow meaningless existence and now you're moaning about it. When I retire and move abroad I will learn the language and live where the locals live. (Susan)
  2. This woman does not live in the real Spain. If she's so fed up, why doesn't she move to a place with more Spanish residents? And get a job, which are not all badly paid. (Joan)

-Adapted from The Mail Online-


Ready for CAE Ss p 21. Writing. Letter in Response to an Expat


  1. I really hope she has gone back to her island

  2. Hopefully there is more to life in Majorca than Puerto Portals. We enjoy theatre, cinema, books and art, among other things....We share our freetime with trutworthy friends and practice all kind of sports in our beutiful island instead of showing up in bars and partys.


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