When we first moved to Switzerland from the UK back in 2011, the initial plan was to give it two years and see how it goes. Now over six years later, we’re still here (with the addition of our son), and I can hardly believe where the time has gone. Like Mark in Not All Chocolate and Cuckoo clocks, I spent a few months in Basel before transferring out here on a permanent contract, but even having done a mini trial run, being an expat has given us many challenges, some expected, others less so. There’s been good times, bad times, and everything in between. Expat life inevitably leads to making comparisons, and no matter how much I’ve enjoyed living in Basel, there are things I miss from the UK, or aren’t quite what I expected. Friends and family are a given, but I have also missed:
1) Making small talk. Basel is German speaking, and my grasp of the language is fairly basic. I miss the little interactions e.g. chatting to some in a queue.
2) Specific foods – over the years we’ve been able to find suppliers or substitutes for most British food that I miss. Things like fish and chips I expected, and they become part of the ritual when I go back, but I don’t get why I can’t get cheese puffs (like Wotsits or Cheetos). You can get peanut flavoured but not cheese? Come on!
3) Takeaways that aren’t super expensive. Food here is expensive and takeaways even more so. We’re looking around 70 CHF ($72/£53) for a standard/nothing special Indian takeaway.
4) Supermarkets where I can buy everything in one go. I don’t know if it is a great Swiss conspiracy, but the supermarkets don’t all sell the same things meaning you have to go to at least two to finish your grocery shop. And don’t get me started on how you can’t buy simple medicines (e.g. paracetamol) in a supermarket
5) The sea – I used to spend my summer holidays in the UK by the sea. And although I live on the banks of Rhine it’s not the same.
Apart from friends and family, what do you think you’d miss if you were to leave your home country/region?
Steffen put down his fork and reached over and stroked the back of Mark’s hand. “I know I’m not the most romantic person, but this is not a romance, yet I do not wish you to think it is mundane. If that kiss we shared is an indicator, then we could have some wonderful times together while you are in Basel. But we should set some boundaries.”
“Boundaries. As in safewords?”
“Not what I meant. Look, Mark, you are here for a few months. We are not about to start getting serious. I just want to make sure we both have the same expectations.”
It made sense, even if it felt unduly weird to be having a frank, upfront conversation with a man he was about to sleep with. “I get it. You’re not going to introduce me to your parents. We’ll have fun, enjoy whatever happens, but ultimately I’m heading back to the UK, and I doubt either of us has the time or energy to fight for a long-distance relationship.”
“Exactly. You are not naïve, or a virgin—you know how sex works, and I want to ensure the sex works the best for both of us. Neither of us should do something because we think the other would like it, and we should both be open about our needs.”
They were good words, nice words even. Mark was happy to hear them, and now all he had to do was listen to them and not do anything stupid, and try not to repeat past mistakes where he’d done things in order to apologize for something, or in the vain hope of saving something that was terminal. “I need you to take me to bed. So unless you’ve any additional requirements, we should get on that.”
“Do not forget my tour guide duties, but in essence we are aligned.” Steffen raised his glass. “To a very pleasurable passing of our time.”
Mark raised his glass. He had doubts, not about sleeping with Steffen, but his own ability not to get in too deep. But those doubts weren’t going anywhere fast, and he wasn’t about to pass up what could be excellent sex. His recent boyfriends had been solid, reliable men, and the sex had been all right but hardly sonnet inducing. “To pleasure. Now, you said something about wanting to fuck me.”
Steffen stood up, pushing his chair back, scraping it across the wooden floor. He held out his hand. “Let me escort you to the bedroom.”
Enter the rafflecopter draw or leave a comment below about what you what you might miss if you were to leave your country/region, and be entered into the blog tour giveaway of your choice of an ebook of one of my backlist titles (excluding Crofton Chronicle bundle).
Neither of them wants to fall in love, but getting exactly what they don’t want might be the best thing to ever happen to them.
Mark hopes his boredom with his current job will be alleviated by a short stint in Basel, Switzerland. When he meets Steffen, who struck out on his own from an old-money family to establish an IT firm, Mark expects some fun, great sex, and a clean break when his job is done. The arrangement is perfect for Steffen, who has been content with casual after a betrayal—and has a taste for British men after attending university in the UK. But as they explore the city’s rich history and traditions, Mark begins to see Steffen as much more than a tour guide with benefits. If he isn’t careful, the trip meant to break the lull in his career might end up breaking his heart instead….
January 12 – The Novel Approach – Blog Post
January 15 – Cupcakes & Bookshelves
January 18 – Love Bytes – Blog Post
January 19 – Diverse Reader (Blog Post), BFD Book Blog, Sarandipity Reviews, Making It Happen
January 20 – Gay Book Reviews – Blog Post
January 22 – Drops of Ink, Valerie Ullmer, Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Book Lovers 4Ever
January 23 – MM Good Book Reviews – Blog Post
Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.
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