On Change and Being Back in the UK

I was on a train to meet Andrew in Wales, chatting to the girl next to me, when she asked: “So, where do you live then?” the question had me stumped. After mumbling something about just getting back from Asia and visiting family in the UK I eventually had to admit that I don’t really live anywhere. “I’m just travelling around at the moment,” I replied. I could tell from the bemused look on the girl’s face that she thought I was odd and for a moment I saw my life from a different angle, one where not having a home, job or more than a backpack worth of possessions doesn’t look as amazing as it feels.

Eating Ice Cream in Winchester

Ice cream at the Hat Fair in Winchester

Being Back in the UK

Moments like these remind me of how much our lives have changed since we left the UK in 2013. Our old life in London was a good one but I remember feeling trapped, plagued by restlessness and a desire to get out and experience something different. In leaving the UK we’ve managed to build a life that isn’t dominated by work and routine, a life where we get to explore the world and try new things. However, this lifestyle is also full of uncertainty and being back here in the UK, seeing the kind of stable life we could be living, brings flashes of fear and doubt to the surface. Should we be thinking of settling down by now, of building a home?

Harry Ramsden's fish and chips in Bournemouth

Fish and chips at the beach in Bournemouth

During these moments of doubt I try to remind myself that there’s no right or wrong path to take, no correct way to live your life; there are many different routes to happiness. Although we love the UK and we’re pleased to be back for the summer, we know we’re not ready to return here permanently yet, there’s still too much we want to see and experience first. We’ve learnt so much from travelling and living in Asia and I’m excited to see how our experiences in the U.S and Europe shape our outlook on life. Yes, there will be scary times when I wish I was back in the UK, but there will also be new work opportunities, places to fall in love with, people to meet and lifestyles to try out. Crucially, the UK will always be here for us to return to and we are so lucky to have that option.

View over the sea in Tenby, South West Wales

Visiting Tenby in South-West Wales

For now, we will continue to embrace the joys of being back ‘home’, of visiting friends and family and enjoying the rituals of a Great British Summer; punnets of strawberries, steaming mugs of tea, windy (and often rainy) walks by the beach and BBQs in the back garden. Travel has helped us to see the UK with new eyes and wherever we are now, we make an effort to get out and explore. We’re currently in Wales and I’ve seen more of the country in the past few days than I have from visits over the last ten years. This weekend we’ll be revisiting our University home, Bristol, and taking a road trip with friends to Cheddar Gorge. August will see us returning to London to house sit and reconnect with our favourite city and in just five weeks’ time we’ll be back at the airport, boarding a plane to New York.

Sometimes I can hardly believe how lucky we are to be living this incredible life.

 

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27 Comments
  • Jenia
    Posted at 23:02h, 27 July Reply

    Welcome back guys! Isn’t it funny how long term travel makes you see your former home with new eyes? It never happened for us when we traveled in the short term, but coming back to the US after a year plus on the road, definitely made us look at it with new eyes – just like you are doing in the UK now. Also, I think we’ve traveled more in the US this past 6 months than we have done in the previous 10 years. Strange how travel gets under your skin, isn’t it?

    • Amy
      Posted at 10:29h, 28 July Reply

      Thanks Jenia. Yep, I think travel really does change your mind-set and encourage you to explore wherever you are, which is a great thing. I hope that stays with me.

  • Patti
    Posted at 00:38h, 28 July Reply

    I suspect when you’re ready to settle and build a home, you’ll just know it and there won’t be any doubt. You’ll feel it. And really, there’s no hurry, right? A little fear/doubt isn’t a bad thing, it gives us perspective. Just go with it and enjoy living in the moment and anticipating future adventures. Have fun being home for the summer!

    • Amy
      Posted at 10:33h, 28 July Reply

      I think all the fear comes out because we see almost everyone we know here in the UK building a home/family and we stick out from that, whereas when we’re away from the UK we don’t think about it much. You are right though Patti, there is no hurry and I should try and just enjoy the moment as well as look forward to our future travel plans 🙂

  • Gilda Baxter
    Posted at 21:00h, 28 July Reply

    We are all different and want different things at different stages of our lives. I agree with Patti that you will know when the time comes to put down roots again. Enjoy being young and carefree, there is a world out there to explore. Enjoy Cheddar Gorge, Brian and I have recently visited and we loved it, I have nearly finished writing a post about our visit. I will look forward to hear how you like it.

    • Amy
      Posted at 22:20h, 28 July Reply

      Thanks Gilda, we are excited about Cheddar Gorge, I just hope it doesn’t pour with rain when we visit 🙂

  • Louisa Klimentos
    Posted at 00:05h, 29 July Reply

    I really like how you have a love for your home country ,The UK .I was born in London ,then my family moved to Seven Kings Eilfed Essex.My mum always would tell me that England has the best gardens in the world.We left England in 1984 for a new life in Australia i returned to the UK to meet my relatives and tour England.My aunty and uncle were strict and at first would not let me go anywhere then they let me do so.i first found london very daunting and busy but it did not take me long to adjust.I loved the parks ,the public transport ,the fashions ,Maddam Tousauds,London planetarium and the amount of people that are aound during the night when you are experiencing the night life.People really do follow trends there.The South coast of England was nice and also the green rolling hills .i also loved the beautiful historical cottages.It was lovelly to return to England.I returned back to England in 1992 and woud like to return one day to see my beautiful relatives from Birmingham region.i love my home country Australia but i have a soft spot for England.Even though my backround is Greek Cypriot.i got along better with the people from England than those from Cyprus.It is great you can travel the world ,and experience different cultures,nature and history.Always return to your home country ,to see family ,friends enjoy the beautiful things that your country has to offer.i always would say to myself that If it wasn’t for Australia,I wouldn’t be able to travel the world because i worked ,earned money there in the first place to be able to travel other countries.Keep travelling and experiencing beautiful places and enjoy life.i forgot to tell you i meant to go on your travel blog sight yesterday but accidently went on the wrong one.This lady travelled Canada,Alaska ,USA and South America .She trekked the deserts ,Amazon jungle ,climbed mountains ,did skiing in Canada and been to some of the most remote places in the world.I thought ,Wow ,how daring has Amy and Andrew become?They are so adventurous.and have gone to US ,Canada and South America already.Then I realised ,I was on the wrong travel blog.How funny was that?I loved to see you both cross a desert .Maybe when you are in the US.I will always follow your travel adventures and i like to thank you for inspiring to return overseas ,i haven’t been overseas since 1992,due to a bad experience,but now i love to do so.Neat wishes ,love louisa

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:25h, 29 July Reply

      Hi Louisa, thanks for your comment. Which travel blog was that? It sounds great 🙂 You have had many exciting adventures too; I would love to go to Cyprus one day, it looks beautiful. Another place to add to the list! Take care x

      • Louisa Klimentos
        Posted at 14:04h, 30 July Reply

        The travel blog is called,Our Big Fat travel Adventure-Blogging our way around.This lady has travelled the North and South America Please look at her blog because you will have some great places to consider to see.Remote deserts are amazing to me and i hope you get to trek these remote regions .You are planning to go to the US,so why not do something a little different .For example you can visit Bryce Canyon near Salt lake City .The colours of this wonderful region is out of this world.Most people love Mountains ,beaches,forests and plenty of greenery and underestamate the beauty of a desert.Maybe it is because they are dry.Please read the above travel blog because it is very interesting.Cyprus is similar to Greece .it has alot of ancient history in which you will like .In summer,it can be very hot and scenery can look dryTtrodos Mountains are quite beautiful,with a nice pine forest.The higest mountain in Cyprus is Mount Olympus which peaks at 1917m above sea level.The mountains are not dramatic as the mountains of the South Island of New Zealand ,but are still nice.Trodos is dotted with nice villages.It is only a small island and you will see alot in a short distance.From the South west corner of Cyprus to the North East corner takes approximately 5 hours to drive accross it.In Australia,it takes approximately 5 to 6 hours to fly from sydney to Perth.A flight from Sydney to Christchurch New Zealand takes three hours.So it shows how small Cyprus is.Bear in mind that one third of Cyprus is Turkish and the other side is Greek.The beaches are mainly pebbles accept in Ayianapa,where alot of English party.Ayianapa has a white sand beach,called Nissi beach,but the sand is imported.If you need to know anything about Cyprus please let me know .Look me up on facebook if you like .My full name is Louisa Klimentos or ask me on your travel blog and i will look you up.Where ever i have a chance to travel especially My home country Australia.I will tell you about it on your travel blog because it will give a person more places to explore.Say hello to Andrew and I hope everything is going well for you .love from Louisa

        • Louisa Klimentos
          Posted at 14:13h, 30 July Reply

          Enjoy New England and the beautiful colour trees .Take lots of beautiful photos,love louisa

          • Andrew
            Posted at 21:41h, 03 August

            Thanks Louisa, we certainly will! 🙂

        • Andrew
          Posted at 21:50h, 03 August Reply

          Thanks Louisa, so many tips! We’ll check out the blog but we’re just sticking to the New England area for this trip. Who knows, there may be another trip some time in the future…

          • Louisa Klimentos
            Posted at 23:19h, 03 August

            Yes i agree you can only do so much and it is better to concerntrate on a region because if you are too busy ticking off as many tourist attractions as possible ,especially in a big country like the USA ,you will be up for long drives and you won’t have enough time to explore each region properly.That is what happened to me and my husband when we drove from Sydney to Adelaide ,to Kangaroo Island and then to the historical town of Sovereign Hill.We drove 3875km in 7 days..It was very tiring and we then realised we needed more time .I think you are doing the right thing by conentrating on The New England area and that way you will appreciate the area you have just explored.You will discover lots of lovelly things and that wouldn’t happen if you were rushed.Looking forward to reading your travel blog on the New England area.Enjoy your trip,love louisa

          • Amy
            Posted at 12:14h, 04 August

            Thanks Louisa x

  • Kim
    Posted at 11:17h, 29 July Reply

    Great post! Sums up feelings I’ve had and most likely will be feeling in the near future. I’ve been travelling around Asia for the past 12 months and will be returning to the UK in August. Nerves are starting to kick in about my return and I’m unsure of how life will be going back; one part of me is relieved to have some sort of stability but another part is fearful of returning to old habits and feeling trapped again.

    I think it’s great you’ve been keeping active and sightseeing around the UK, it’s easy to forget that we have stunning towns, villages and cities in our own country! Looking forward to reading your adventures in America 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:27h, 29 July Reply

      Hi Kim, thanks for your comment. I hope you have a smooth return to the UK too, it takes a while to get used to the little differences but Asia will always be there to return to. Enjoy the rest of your travels 🙂

  • Matt
    Posted at 17:46h, 29 July Reply

    I get that feeling of being the odd couple out as other people are all doing completely different stuff (houses, families etc). It’s definitely worse when back visiting home & almost can make you doubt your plans (at least sometimes for me) but I’m sure you guys won’t have any doubts when cruising around New England this fall!

    I loved Bristol for the one weekend I spent there – hope you guys enjoy being back there! Got to love going back to old home towns etc and having those moments of huge excitement over completely nothing whether it’s a new supermarket being there or the fact that the old pub you loved still hasn’t changed.

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:28h, 29 July Reply

      Yep, I love revisiting old haunts and discovering new areas of old places we used to live. I am sure my fears will drift away once we touch-down in America 🙂

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 21:47h, 30 July Reply

    The never resolved question right? To build a nest or fly away? I think, perhaps, one problem we travelers have is that society likes concrete answers. We’re raised to believe things should be a certain way; in the US, at least, it’s all about school, job, spouse, house, work work work and acquire still more and better and bigger stuff and then retire and do what you want. For any of us who spurn that notion we’re considered odd and a little concerning, actually. We can’t wait to get on the road, and now that the house is gone and we’re a few mere months away the excitement is building. And yet, we know we won’t stay nomadic forever. Someday some little house, probably in Mexico, will call our name and we’ll once again put down some roots. But what we have learned is we don’t need much to be happy. Whether at home or on the road, we have become so removed from “stuff” and just want to embrace the simplified life, lived in the moment. Enjoy your time back, appreciate what you’ll miss once you’re gone, and be glad you do have such an amazing life!

    • Amy
      Posted at 22:06h, 03 August Reply

      Yes, exactly Rhonda, we’ve also learned that we don’t need much ‘stuff’ to be happy but like you, we’d like a home one day. Exciting news that you have only few months left till departure 🙂

  • [email protected] The British Berliner
    Posted at 08:05h, 08 August Reply

    Welcome back to the UK guys. It’s perfectly natural to feel the way that you do and the good news is that you CAN live the life that you both want to live. Most importantly, go ahead and do it. 🙂
    I always say on my own blog how lucky we are as British people and as Europeans, to be able to make our own choices and that is what we should do.
    Before becoming an expat in Berlin and before that , previously in Prague. I know. Right! I used to live in London and I had quite the merry life there. Whoop! Whoop! I remember going up North for a week as my family live in Cheshire, and as beautiful and pretty as Cheshire is I too remember almost choking with restlessness, boredom and utter small-towndom. Everyone was doing the same thing, going to the same places and meeting the same people. For years.
    Ha! Ha! Nooooooo! I wanted more and London was the place to start but even that wasn’t enough. I wanted more, more. Hence a year in Asia, living in Eastern Europe, marrying a German, “making it” in Berlin. In short, living the life that I want to live, in the way that I want to live it.

    Settling down doesn’t have to mean “settling” and once you know what’s out there, why would you? If you really want to develop some roots and you’re not ready to “come home” then be an expat in another country and build a home there. Whatever the case, you have both done great things and for that, you should be proud. 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:43h, 08 August Reply

      Thanks for sharing your experiences Victoria, I’m glad we’re not alone in feeling restless. I definitely think expat life combined with short stints of faster-paced travel is a good balance for us and we’re keen to try our luck in Spain next year!

  • Alyson
    Posted at 16:23h, 13 August Reply

    Hi there!
    Same here, that “Where do you live” question comes up surprisingly frequently in the UK, some people just can’t get their heads around it at all. We live nowhere and everywhere, but at least we can tell people we own 2 homes, in Australia and Romania, that usually stops them worrying!
    We have no desire to stop either, I LOVE this life we’ve created, love the freedom, a month in London, a month on he beach in Thailand, maybe visit friends in Spain or the US, it’s AMAZING.
    But I have learned a lot about what I need from a home, I think I’ve also realised that the place I need doesn’t exist. So we’ll continue to take the best bits from the whole planet. Enjoy London, we’re just packing up to leave for Romania, hope to see you there one day!

    • Amy
      Posted at 18:07h, 13 August Reply

      Hi Alyson, that’s a great way to look at it, taking the best bits from the whole planet. Yes, it sounds like we’ll miss you in London then but hopefully we can catch you next time or perhaps we’ll make it out to Romania sometime 🙂 Good luck with the relocation, I’ll be following your journey online 🙂

  • Alyson
    Posted at 15:50h, 28 August Reply

    Did you see we found a little cottage to rent in the village? We’ll stay here until our house is built enough to live in, it’s really cute, but waiting for the shower is taking forever, so I’m reading every post on your blog to kill time. I’m sure you’re fine with that:)

    • Amy
      Posted at 19:22h, 28 August Reply

      We’re absolutely fine with that, thanks for reading. The cottage sounds charming, you definitely have won the lifestyle lottery!

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