WE ARE DIVERSE!

We can't be certain how accurate the estimates are of the number of UK citizens living in the EU, but the figure most likely equates to that of a fair-sized city in the UK. However, unlike a UK city, we are not an easily visible mass. Unfortunately, the British press often represents us with narrow stereotypical images that most of us do not identify with. To show how diverse we are, we have put together a few profiles of our members, together with interviews, to give a taste of our lives as UK citizens in the EU, and as EU citizens in the UK. It is time for Brexpats Hear Our Voice be seen as well as heard!

 

Caricature-like images offend rather than inform. We wouldn't dream of suggesting that most journalists are like this. Sadly, all too often this is how some of them portray us!

 

Cartoon, profiles, interviews and photos must not be reproduced without permission.

Disclaimer: Any opinions expressed are entirely the personal opinions of the individuals who kindly agreed to take part in this project.

CHARLES, GERMANY

I am a self-employed Copy Editor, with dual British/Canadian citizenship. I lived in Britain from starting school through to finishing my doctorate. I am married to a German national and have two daughters who were both born in Germany.

Describe the view from your window?
I see the tree-filled backyard to a set of apartment blocks.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
Working from my home office, with a thermos of tea at my side.

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
I live in an area with a lot of Turkish immigrants, and so such items as manti, (meatdumplings) and sucuk, (spicy sausages), and Turkish-style yoghurt are staples in my family.

If you turn on the radio or TV, what are you typically listening to or watching?
When driving, I listen to Radio Berlin-Brandenburg, a local radio station. At home, I don't watch much television, but likely as not I watch BBC World News.

Name one thing you really love about your area?
The people are very genuine and helpful.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
There are too many tourists and short-stay residents in Kreuzberg, (home of East Side Gallery and Checkpoint Charlie).

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
Kuchenkaiser at Oranienplatz, an old cafe-restaurant in our district.

How are the British perceived in your local community?
British are pretty well liked, being one of the most prestigious immigrant groups here.

How do you think your area will be affected by the UK leaving the EU?
It will be bad for all British families. Also, I work mostly with academic clients and publishers and there has been a big chilling effect on cross-border cooperation. It has become very difficult to put together funding for research groups that span the UK and the rest of the EU.

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LOUISE, MALTA

We moved to Malta for my husband´s job in 2014. We are both British.

My husband is now a Hospital Operating Theatre Manager and I’m a Brand Manager, importing Tesco products for a local family supermarket.

We've stopped looking for somewhere to buy, for ourselves and our 20-year-old cat who accompanied us here because of Brexit uncertainty. Meanwhile, our house sale proceeds, still in the UK, are rapidly becoming worthless. We are worried about consequences for British imports.

Describe the surroundings of your home?
Fabulous views of the sea from our roof space. We're in a residential area with mainly Maltese families, far enough away from a very built-up tourist area but convenient enough for restaurants and the beach.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
I am usually managing the shop-floor and my staff, five of them from four different EU countries!

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
Local wine, the famous Maltese Ftira bread, olives and cheese.

If you turn on the radio or the TV, what are you typically listening to or watching?
The news and/or UK soaps.

Did one small thing make your day today?
My boss always makes my day - great interaction with mutual respect. He's Maltese and his family business has been trading 36 years. (My husband's boss is also Maltese, in a family-run hospital of 30 years.)

Name one thing you love about your local area?
Beautiful weather and kind people, (so two things).

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
Public transport, very poor drivers and getting decisions made, (that's three!)

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
A kiosk on the sea front.

How are the British perceived in local people in your area?
Generally OK but they think we're mad now. Personally, I'm trying to help my local community. I've become involved in the Prince's Trust which, for its first time in Malta, is helping to get underprivileged young people into work through an on-the-job training programme.

How do you think your local area, (businesses, people...) will be affected by the UK leaving the EU?
Who knows? I worry, as I import a British brand, about a loss in sales for my boss's supermarket. Also I know of a haulage company that is shipping at least two Brits back to the UK per week. And tourism will be reduced with the weak pound against the euro surely?

JOCELYN, FRANCE

I am a retired primary school teacher and moved from North West England to rural Charente 15 years ago. I have been employed by the Département de la Charente for 9 years as a foster carer. I've fostered over 20 children over long and short periods. I also study and play traditional French music with a small folklorique ensemble for dances and such.

Describe the view from your window?
My garden with roses and geese.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
Coming back from the school run.

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
Vegetables.

If you turn on the radio or the TV, what are you typically listening to or watching?
BBC Radio 4 or Coronation Street on ITV.

Did one small thing make your day today?
Not yet!

Name one thing you love about your local area?
Local music and musicians.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
Too many kilometres to get anywhere, and everywhere is too far by bike.

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
My house.

How are the British perceived in local people in your area?
A bit odd, but for the most part the locals take as they find.

How do you think British people in your area will be affected when the UK leaves the EU?
It depends what happens. Brits won't come to live here any more. If we lose rights to health care, many Brits may be forced to return to the UK, leaving empty properties so bad for the economy.

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JACKIE, ITALY

I moved 47 years ago from Selsdon (was Surrey, now Greater London), following a passion for Italy which started at history of art classes. I studied Italian for some time and secured an office job in Udine. I am now retired from a state school teaching post.

Describe the surroundings of your home.
I live in a rural village on the plain, 10 minutes north-west of Udine on a fast road, with mountains in the distance.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
The housework, gardening, or one of my hobbies, such as genealogy, that is the study of ancestry, or making necklaces.

Which local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
I enjoy goat's and ewe's milk cheese, (any cheese though!), San Daniele ham, fish, game such as pheasant, venison and wild boar, locally-grown fruit and vegetables, like asparagus and radicchio. I always cook from scratch and make the family bread and pizza. We don't usually buy pastries and cakes, as I have coeliac disease, and anyway we like a healthy diet at our age.

What do you typically watch on TV?
The news on Italian state television on all three channels in Italian, and now in English via the Internet. I also watch a lot of documentary type programmes on Italian TV as well as a few films and serials.

Did one small thing make your day today?
Being outside in the garden in the early morning.

Name one thing you love about your area.
The varied physical aspect.

And something you find very frustrating?
People not putting their refuse in the right bins.

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
In a restaurant.

How are the British perceived in your local community
Respected.

How do you think your local area (businesses, people...) will be affected by the UK leaving the EU?
Procedures for importing and exporting will again be laborious and costly, and some companies will have to employ new staff or look for other customers or suppliers.

HELEN, FRANCE

I am from the Beds/Herts borders, married to Roy and have two daughters aged 19 and 21 at university in France. We moved to France in 2003 for reasons including ridiculous UK house prices and tuition fees making life tough for next generation. Our 18-year age gap means 'conventional' retirement would not be possible for us. We run a gite in the summer.

Describe the surroundings of your home?
A small hameau of mostly old farmhouses, on the edge of a 65km watercourse, so beautiful flora and fauna. The village is 1km away, nearest town 15 mins, bigger town 25 mins, TGV to Paris 2hrs 13 mins.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
Having a second cup of tea, and planning the day after walking the dogs. Morning walk takes 45 minutes.

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
Brittany quatre-quarts gateau (similar to pound cake), caramel au beurre salé, biscuits, butter, yoghurt, crepes, galettes etc.

If you turn on the radio or the TV, what are you typically listening to or watching?
News, antique programmes, some sport.

Did one small thing make your day today?
Seeing one of the vixens we feed, on a daily basis, on the back deck.

Name one thing you love about your local area?
The peace.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
Hunters during the season, September to February.

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
Homes, theirs or ours.

How are the British perceived in local people in your area?
Speaking for ourselves, we have a lot of good friends and acquaintances, and enjoy an excellent relationship with our neighbours.

How do you think British people in your area will be affected?
Unsure, one thing I have noticed is the housing market is suffering as a result of some Brits leaving.

CHRIS, SPAIN

I am a retired English teacher who has spent 46 years in Spain. I have a Spanish wife and 3 Spanish children. I worked in different locations for language schools and the British Council. I retired following post as deputy director of a high-profile academy in Valencia. I have a Spanish pension and small UK state pension.

Describe the view from your window?
There's a small tree-lined triangular garden, and on the other side some terraced houses and several fairly new brick-built blocks. This is a working-class area in the outskirts of Valencia. We are on the first floor and have a terrace which is full of plants.

What are usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
I've mobility problems so spend a lot of time on my computer. I’m usually checking emails and my FB group, Spanish for Integration, or preparing for my private classes.

What local items are often found in your grocery shopping?
I always buy Spanish red wine. Favourites are from the Priorato, Extremadura, La Rioja and Utiel-Requena. I buy Crianza, wines aged for 2 years with at least 6 months in oak.

If you turn on the radio what do you typically listen to?
Cricket commentary, classical music or jazz. I don’t often listen as I need to concentrate on one thing at a time.

Did one small thing make your day today?
My private conversation class with my favourite student. She is also retired and we get on very well. She speaks good English and French and wants to maintain both of them.

What do you love about your area?
The weather, the people, and the music scene.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
Valencia is still rather provincial so the number of flights in and out are rather limited.

Your favourite place to meet friends?
If not at my or their homes, then in restaurants, bars or a jazz club in the old town.

How are British people perceived in your local community?
Fortunately here, Brits are often working so they're very welcome but down the road on the Costas, they're seen with different eyes, especially when they refuse to integrate and don’t even bother to learn the language.

How do you think your local area will be affected by the UK leaving the EU?
People will still want oranges, vegetables and other fruits, even at higher prices. Perhaps the most noticeable drop will be in tourism from the UK. But as people are beginning to complain about that, it'll probably be a blessing rather than a curse if the numbers drop off. Brits in Valencia probably won't be affected much but down on the Costas it depends on the leaving terms. If there's no agreement on health care, pension rights, Gibraltar etc. then things could become very uncomfortable, especially for those who are not fully legal.

Do you still feel part of British society?
I’m afraid I don’t wish to be part of what it has become since the referendum. I put in my application for Spanish nationality last December. I'm still optimistic Brexit will die a death and things will remain much the same as they are at the moment. But, just in case, if it does happen, I should be Spanish by then, for better or for worse.

SUE, FRANCE

I was born in Bristol and worked in SE England, France, Belgium, the US and a short spell in Burundi. I retired to rural France in 2007 and immediately got involved in the community, serving on various committees and was recently elected as a local councillor. I also devote time to charities, and teach English as an extra-curricular activity in local primary school.

 Describe the surroundings of your home?
My old stone house is in a village with some small shops and cafés, in a beautiful undulating area with many lakes and woodlands. I've converted my attic for my children and grand-children who love to visit.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
In winter bringing in wood or walking my dog around the beautiful lake. Or gardening, preparing jars of food from local produce, visiting the local market...  I also teach IT skills to local senior citizens.

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
Duck (magret and confit)cepes and chanterelles (mushrooms), cheese, paté and rillettes, and fruits in season. And, of course, wine.

If you turn on the radio or the TV, what are you typically listening to or watching?
France Bleue Limousin (a local radio station), France Inter, France Culture, (discussions, politics and social issues, and streamed BBC (5 Live, Radio 4, music channels..)

Did one small thing make your day today?
Being asked what region I am from by a French holidaymaker. I have spoken French since the age of 21 but people normally pick up on my English accent!

Name one thing you love about your local area?
The wild, beautiful scenery with hundreds of footpaths to explore, the lakes with wildlife to spot, and the peace and tranquillity.  Very occasionally I miss the buzz of London.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
I love my neighbours and their warm welcome to us but implementing any change to the way things are done can be frustrating. This is a very rural area and I grew up in cities.

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
My home, their homes, local clubs and a café by the lake (in summer).  My friend and I run a monthly get-together for Brits, Dutch and French people to speak French.

How are the British perceived in local people in your area?
They love the way we've renovated houses, beautified gardens and participate in local events, and say "We need you - please don't leave!". They cannot understand why Britain made such a stupid decision.

How do you think British people in your area will be affected?
Brexit is a disaster. Uncertainty about healthcare and residency status, and the fall in sterling are major problems. My friends have no intention of returning to the UK but the government is causing despair for Brits in the EU.

ROSEMARY, GERMANY

I am a 67 years old, translator/interpretor (semi-retired). I grew up in the Midlands before moving to London as a teenager. I met my German husband during my year abroad from studying German at Oxford and we now have two sons and three grandchildren.

Describe the surroundings of your home?
Midway between beautiful Hamburg and the Baltic coast. Our ex-village, (lots of building going on), is surrounded by woods and a river valley, but also has smart shopping and leisure facilities nearby.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
Working, clearing up, yoga, gym or dance class, depending on the day. Sometimes, if I am lucky, knitting in the garden in the sun.

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
Different breads, variety of cold cuts, eggs, fresh organic vegetables, beer, coffee and cake.

If you turn on the radio or the TV, what are you typically listening to or watching?
BBC Radio 4 (my lifeline!), dubbed (alas!) UK TV series such as Midsomer Murders or Lewis. Also English DVDs, German talk shows or who-dunnits.  

Did one small thing make your day today?
The sun is shining after what feels like weeks of rain.

Name one thing you love about your local area?
The countryside, the city with its lake and white patrician houses, and the advent traditions with candlelit evenings and Christmas markets.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
Living under the flight path of Hamburg airport.

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
Little café within cycling distance - a young brother and sister selling breakfast, delicious home-make cake and lots of exciting teas and coffees.

How are the British perceived in local people in your area?
Individually as eccentric but lovable. As a nation currently viewed with puzzlement, sympathy and/or growing exasperation.

How do you think your local area, (businesses, people...) will be affected by the UK leaving the EU?
Travel/trade with the UK will probably suffer. We cannot know how much until the negotiations are complete. UK-focussed businesses may be hit while others benefit. Most locals are actually fairly indifferent.

CATHERINE, FRANCE

61 years old. Have lived in France for 5 years.  Previously lived in Kent and worked in local government. Made decision to move because we felt the UK was becoming more aggressive, dirty, racist and expensive. Are both early retirees. Husband was in the Police for 28 years so we live on our government pensions. Bought our home in 2002, renovating it during holidays.

Describe the surroundings of your home?
This is a heavily wooded and rural department of France. Our hamlet, on a plateau, is 5km from the nearest town. It is extremely quiet, very cold in winter and very hot in summer!

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
Taking the dog for a walk, and my husband has gone to work renovating a house in a village 20km away which our daughter bought last year.

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
Local cheese from here and our neighbouring department. Beef in the supermarket generally indicates the farm it came from, with a photo. We grow all our own veg, buy bread locally or make our own.

If you turn on the radio or the TV, what are you typically listening to or watching?
Very little daytime TV but normally have the Daily Politics show on. Watch British TV with our Freesat box. French TV is not great.

Did one small thing make your day today?
Husband came back from the vegetable plot with fresh peas and strawberries from the poly tunnel.

Name one thing you love about your local area?
Peace and quiet. Fresh, clean air.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
Internet access! We pay 40 euros a month for rubbish. If it's snowing, raining or foggy there's no signal, and when it works it's ridiculously slow. Macron has said it's a priority... I do hope so.

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
At their house or ours. There really isn't an alternative as there are very few bars near us.

How are the British perceived in local people in your area?
I have never found any animosity. My husband is very hands-on and will often help neighbours out, and they have helped us too.

How do you think your local area, (businesses, people...) will be affected by the UK leaving the EU?
In our nearest town there are quite a few Brits who own both holiday and permanent homes. If they were to leave, the houses would probably remain unsold for years, leading to problems for the town and owners, who mostly shop locally and use local artisans. The result can only mean a loss. 

LOUISE, BRUSSELS

We moved to Brussels from East Sussex with work in 2002. My husband studied and looked after our daughter for a year before also finding employment. I am now an Independent Consultant, (pharmaceutical industry) and he is in Vendor Management, (telecoms company). We care for two daughters and one niece.

Describe the surroundings of your home.
We live in the East of Brussels, which is very international as it is near NATO, European Parliament, Eurocontrol and European Commission.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
Working on the laptop, or in a meeting, either from my home office, or at my client's office.

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
I don't differentiate between what is local and what is not. It's just what I buy.

If you turn on the radio or TV, what are you typically listening to or watching.
I listen to BBC Radio 6 whilst working. For news, I'll listen to BBC Radio 4 or BBC World Service. In the car I listen to Pure FM or another French-speaking station. I don't watch much TV.

Did one small thing make your day today?
The whole family is away (some in UK to visit family, and one in Switzerland at scout camp) so I could get into the shower without waiting for a teenager to vacate it!

Name one thing you really love about your area?
Everything is available and it's really international.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
Nothing really but it would be nice to be closer to the Metro.

Your favourite place to meet friends?
At each other's homes.

How are the British perceived in your local community?
I have never picked up anything negative.  I think people are very welcoming regardless of nationality.  Since the referendum they are very sympathetic and commiserate with us.

How do you think your local area will be affected by the UK leaving the EU?
Maybe some people will have to leave if they can no longer work for the Commission. I don't think there'll be a big impact.

LIZ, FRANCE

I have lived in France for 18 years, previously part-time, commuting every weekend from Jersey where I was a secondary school English teacher. I took early retirement two years ago after adrenal burnout a few years ago and moved here permanently with my husband.

Describe the surroundings of your home?
Countryside. No neighbours! Beautiful views.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
If we have students staying, or if I am teaching, then I am working. If not, I am probably clearing fields, gardening or cooking. 

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
We buy everything local! Cheese, meat, honey, fish. We grow our own veggies.

If you turn on the radio or the TV, what are you typically listening to or watching?
We don't really watch TV but we do like films. We watch the news on France 2, and sometimes watch CNN and France 24.

Did one small thing make your day today?
We have a French student with us at the moment, and today he seemed more relaxed so I'm really pleased that he is gaining confidence.

Name one thing you love about your local area?
The calm, our friends, the beautiful countryside, the food, I can't just choose one!

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
Cows attracting flies!

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
At each other's houses for dinner, or apéros or to play music together. I play whistle and sing in an Irish band here which has two French people in it, one Scot (me!), an Irish man (my husband) and an English guy. It's a great example of integrated nationalities... and our audiences are mostly French!

How are the British perceived in local people in your area?
It's mixed. We are well integrated, speak French and most of our friends are French. There is a clique that stick together and don't integrate so they aren't viewed particularly favourably but there isn't any animosity either.

How do you think British people in your area will be affected when the UK leaves the EU?
I don't think it will have any impact....  except for the immobiliers who will gain less because of the drop in house prices.

ALEXANDRA, CRETE

I came here on holiday in 2004 when still working full-time in Bristol. I had a great job in the Civil Service and my partner was a Special Needs Teacher.  A chance glance in a real estate agent's window when the exchange rate was great, then some research, resulted in us buying a modest plot in 2005, with a single room and a toilet but an amazing view!

Describe the surroundings of your home?
Since 2005 our purchase has morphed into comfortable living accommodation and various outbuildings, including one we call the bunker with our olive oil equipment, and a greenhouse we can't use until late in the year as most days it goes up to 50° inside!

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
Depends on time of year but usually eating breakfast, normally toast, maybe a boiled egg, muesli or porridge. I drink Italian espresso and Nick insists on English Breakfast tea.

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
We get seasonal fruit and veg from a local market. Eggs and yoghurt are also local. I buy Greek meat, not imported. We drink Greek wine but I have a weakness for English beer. I usually cook from scratch and make my own bread.

If you turn on the radio or the TV, what are you typically listening to or watching?
We still like to listen to Radio 4. We are not huge TV watchers. Sometimes we watch documentaries on YouTube and we subscribe to Netflix.

Did one small thing make your day today?
I made a clutch of eight long salami for the first time ever, having watched a YouTube video making it look easy! Some of the ingredients I had to order through the local butcher.

Name one thing you love about your local area?
The lack of people generally, it's a smallish village on a hill. Stunning scenery, very peaceful, sometimes you can hear a pin drop... Roads are quiet though Greek driving is an experience.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
Being able to source items for our projects. Red tape and bureaucracy in general.

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
A local taverna where the owners are friends, or occasionally at friends' houses.

How are the British perceived in local people in your area?
Anybody from the next village is an outsider! However, they are generally tolerant, but not so welcoming to Germans, as Greeks have long memories.

How do you think your local area, (businesses, people...) will be affected by the UK leaving the EU?
Brits here have probably burnt their bridges and have nothing to go back to, but most have joined the Greek health scheme and aren't dependent on reciprocal arrangements. I don't think the local economy will be affected at all.

JASON, AMSTERDAM

I am from near London and have lived in Amsterdam for the last 18 years. I came to the Netherlands to visit a friend after a particularly bad break up and divorce to clear my head and decided to stay when offered accommodation and work in a bar.

Describe the surroundings of your home.
I own a flat in a block, in quite a nice area surrounded by greenery. There's a shopping centre with a market about 50m from me.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
Usually in bed, as I work night shifts or evening shifts all the time.

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
The food here is a bit different to how it is at home, so most of my groceries are local items.

If you turn on the radio or TV, what are you typically listening to or watching.
Many programmes here are the same as back home. Sitcoms, films and about half of the other shows are in English with subtitles. There are a couple of Dutch shows I like but usually stick to English speaking programmes, if I'm honest.

Did one small thing make your day today?
Yes, my girlfriend has gone to her home country on vacation, and we had a nice conversation this morning which cheered me up no end.

Name one thing you really love about your area?
The diversity of the people that live here.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
The lack of food variety. They have many brands offering a very limited variety of things for everything.

Your favourite place to meet friends?
An Irish bar in one of the tourist areas, or a more local Dutch bar.

How are the British perceived in your local community?
I honestly don't know... I am the only British person in my entire block as far as I know and the people here seem to like me. They do think Brexit is a stupid idea - all of them.

How do you think your local area will be affected by the UK leaving the EU?
As Amsterdam is a tourist attraction, and many of the tourists are British as it is so close, (40-minute flight from London), it will possibly hit the tourist trade very hard, mostly the bars and restaurants. Some places may even be forced to close, in my opinion.

JEREMY, BRUSSELS

We moved to Belgium from West Yorkshire 15 years ago. A permanent job with a big bank, (a lot) less commuting, better housing, healthcare, schools and the opportunity to bring up the kids bilingually. The job didn't work out so I went freelance again and I'm currently working in IT in one of the EU institutions.

Describe the surroundings of your home?Spacious town house in suburban Brussels, (swapped from a 4-bed semi in the UK). We have forest, good schools and main metro line all within 10 minutes walk.

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
That would be team coffee time at work.

What local items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
Witloof chicory, white asparagus in season, interesting and unusual Belgian beers.

If you turn on the radio or the TV, what are you typically listening to or watching?
BBC. We are still very "English" at home and rarely watch things in other languages.

Did one small thing make your day today?
My ten-year-old is hoovering his bedroom because he is off on Cub camp this afternoon. (My older kids are both leaders at Brownies and are also away at camp.)

Name one thing you love about your local area?
Just the ease of living - everything is close by.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
Getting back to see family in the North of England.

Your favourite place for meeting friends?
The pub, of course! A lot of my friends come from me singing in a rock band, so I bump into the same crowd quite often at gigs. I'm also involved in an English-speaking am-dram which both my wife and I are quite actively involved in.

How are the British perceived in local people in your area?

Very positively. There was a strong hangover from the war when I was younger (early 80s). We knew a lot of Anglo-Belgian friendships that had been kept up from British servicemen being billeted with local families in 1944. This goodwill has lingered. Also, Brits are seen as flexible and creative, and tend to have a way of doing things that is different from the fairly hierarchical way that a lot of Belgian companies do things. A few people have told me that Brexit has shattered their preconceptions...

How do you think British people in your area will be affected when the UK leaves the EU?
This is probably one of the easiest places in the EU to get a job without "local" language skills. It's already a centre for European headquarters for loads of companies, and most of those companies have English as a working language, so I'm certainly not expecting Belgium to be overlooked when companies move away from the UK, particularly if they want staff to move with them. There are a lot of British freelancers here, and I can see them staying and cutting ties with the UK for a number of reasons.

ANONYMOUS, FRENCH NATIONAL, NORTH EAST ENGLAND

I was born in the South of France. (Grandparents were German but they had to become French after WW1; they were from Alsace/Lorraine.) I studied languages at school, came to the UK as a French assistant and ended up as a MFL teacher (Modern Foreign Languages). I am married to a Brit with two bilingual kids. I have worked in Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, Botswana and Malaysia teaching in International schools. In our hearts we feel international, then European, then French or English.

Describe the surroundings of your home.
Live in a terraced house with hubby and daughter, (eldest at uni), 2 cats and 2 dogs, 5 mins from the sea. There are horses that get loose in the street of our small Northumberland town. A few shops, most have closed down as they can't survive (my little shop included). I love this place. This is home to me. Most people around here voted Leave. Why? You can count the foreigners on one hand!

What are you usually doing at 10 o'clock in the morning?
I do supply teaching as jobs are few and far between here. I am a trained counsellor but can't find paid employment, (plenty of volunteering!).  If the phone rings at 7.30am, then I am at school. If not, I'll be on my computer, getting support from groups, (Our Brexit Testimonies, UKCEN, In Limbo....). I have spent months preparing for my Permanent Residency, stressing, crying, despairing, feeling angry, abandoned.... Also spent months preparing for the Life in the UK test, which I have found humiliating and degrading, especially when they checked the inside of my ears, my glasses, my arms, and made me take my jewellery off... (to make sure I wasn't cheating).

What British items often find their way into your grocery shopping?
I love Marmite! Fresh white sliced bread, strong matured Cheddar cheese, Stilton, garlic bread,  orange marmalade and eating potatoes with the skin. On my first visit to the UK as part of a 4-week exchange programme at the age of 14 with a local girl, her mother baked oven potatoes with the skin, and I couldn't eat it because we don't in France! As for French items... some cheeses, baguettes, jam, biscuits, and snails!

If you turn on the radio or TV, what are you typically listening to or watching.
All the news: BBC, ITV, Panorama... But also watch series (addicted to Eastenders, and have watched it since 1985, wherever we were in the world!), gardening programmes, documentaries, and foreign films on Netflix.

Did one small thing make your day today?
Read that one of my comments helped another despairing European, on the edge of having her marriage break up over Brexit, as most of her husband's family voted Leave and he is playing the ostrich game, burying his head in the sand, giving her no support whatsoever.

Name one thing you really love about your area?
The evening sky on a sunny day, displaying fascinating colours, the noise of horses roaming loose in the street, the field at the end of the road to walk the dog, the wild sea next door and the North-East wind that clears your head of any negativity, sadness or worries.

What is the most frustrating thing about where you live?
No one is aware or interested in what people like me (Europeans) are going through; they are simply not interested and avoid talking about politics. Even if they're told their response is: "Oh dear, I didn't know all this", and they quickly change the subject.

Your favourite place to meet friends?
My house or theirs. I am afraid of speaking French in public, as a lot of my friends have been verbally abused, told to "f*** off to their f***ing bloody country", as they're not welcome here, (for example, at Morrisons in Newcastle).

How are EU citizens perceived in your local community?
I assume, as taking the jobs of locals. There aren't any jobs to take! People have had enough waiting to get an appointment with their GP and they are blaming foreigners.

Here is a comment to me on Facebook, from a so-called friend, educated to degree level, and whom I welcomed in my house when I worked in Ukraine and Poland as she fancied a free holiday abroad: “The fact is, you are educated so you speak English really well, but if we let in others from Europe freely there will be more and more need for translation services. I'm in favour of a harder Brexit to be honest. If I want to make a doctor's appointment online I have the option to go the non-English speaking route. Fair enough but where is my option to be seen quickly, see a Dr who has time for me, who knows who I am even? No, no, no. I'm adding five voices for hard Brexit”.

How do you think your local area will be affected by the UK leaving the EU?
This will make the area even more deprived... The EU citizens I know are mostly language teachers, teaching French and Spanish, SEN (Special Education Needs) teachers or self-employed... all are highly qualified, educated, speak English fluently, have integrated 100% and are all worrying themselves sick about their future.