Once again it has been a lovely hectic trip comprised of catching up with as many family and friends who can fit into our crazy hurtle round the UK. Often with plentiful wine.
Once again, Seb and I are at the Heathrow departure gate, over-packed and airport weary, having spent about 9 hours in terminal 5 (although the last is fortunately a deviation from the norm).
It is always a bit unsettling to turn up in a place you knew so well and find that most of the time, despite the internet, one has no idea how to put money on a mobile phone, where to find the Marmite in Sainsbury’s, which tube pass to buy.
At first the number plates look obscenely bold and childish compared the narrower, more delicate US plates we have grown accustomed to. The lorries/trucks are more squashed in the nose and are definitely not shiny, but are more ecologically friendly.
British accents abound and I find that somehow I have to work a bit harder to focus on what people are saying. Water doesn’t come as standard when eating out and I have to revert to using rubbish bins and the tube. Toilets are taller and the flush is marvellous, saving water and disposing of waste extremely efficiently.
Happily, this alien phase doesn’t last for long, especially when helped by good company and wine and soon I can almost drive on the left side of the road and use a clutch again.
We heroically covered all three of the mainland home countries this year, plus a big chunk of the South East and West coast all in a little rented Punto, which became our base and tardis-like luggage storage. Packing it was very strategic.
The trip was great. In particular this time, my first walk along public footpaths and country lanes, on the look out for speed-crazed motorists . It was a happy walk only slightly marred by the inexplicable non-communication of the locals who walked specifically on the other side of the road to me. They determinedly avoided my attempts at a friendly greeting, by the method of staring straight ahead and not meeting the eye of the interloper. Nice to see us Brits don’t change too much!
We went to pubs, swam and body-boarded in the sea, had cream teas, camped in caravans, explored the rocky bays of the South Coast, took in the Beefeaters, ravens and crown jewels at the Tower. Poked around the shops in Covent Garden and Edinburgh. Went on Safari at Port Lympne, reacquainted ourselves with Melbourne. Fished in Scotland and Cornwall. Got to know the terrifying ring-road in Wolverhampton.
In between doing thoroughly British and touristy stuff we spent all too short a time with friends and family who amazingly still put up with us coming into their lives just once a year and forcing them to drink themselves stupid with us.
So until we return next year, keep in touch – we miss you all!