Is nostalgia when you miss even the bad?

When I saw this advert for blinds, the first thing that struck me – your typical pasty northerner whose aspirin whiteness of wintertime sours into a shade of blanc cassé in summer – was the idea that anyone not be friends with the sun.

sun climate weather in Lebanon

Haven't we met before?

When sun-starved Brits travel to warmer climes, locals are often amused to see them strip off for the merest ray of light. That’s what happens when you grow up with summers of waiting for the clouds to part.

It doesn’t always rain in the UK, and like the bad food jokes it’s a tired cliché that too many people who’ve never been there use. But Britain has had a poor excuse for a summer so far. Or as a good friend of mine put it “rain…rain, a threat of sunshine, followed by rain”.  Oh to have so much sun that you just can’t take any more. That’s what I hear in the voices of family back in And that’s how I used to feel – you just can’t have too much of a good thing. But lately I think maybe we need a little time apart, a bit of space. When I come back I’m sure I’ll appreciate it more.

Reverse culture shock?

Yesterday, as I was driving along the autostrade, I was hemmed in by a concrete mixing truck on one side, a Porsche Cayenne on the other and a tank in front.

Anyone who has driven on Lebanese roads knows that they are blissfully free of such restrictive concepts as indicating, fixed lanes and safe stopping distances; as such you end up intimately close to the other vehicles even when you’d rather not.

EDL protests electricity Lebanon

Police calm rock-lobbing protesters outside EDL

As I was watching the beret-clad soldiers swinging their assault rifles scarcely three metres from my windscreen, I thought about how you somehow get used to Lebanon’s eclecticism over time.

Yesterday we barely looked up from our work to watch a UN helicopter land on the helipad of a local hospital. The day before I watched from the window as crowds lobbed rocks at the Electricité du Liban building and riot police poured out of trucks to quell the protest.

a peaceful coast

a peaceful coast

How am I going to cope with days of waking to the deep-throated call of a wood pigeon, miles of rolling green hills dotted with pasturing sheep and the rhythmic splash of waves on a beach (not being drowned out by club music)?

the Devonshire tank

the Devonshire tank