Back in 2013 I shed many tears when we said goodbye to our lives in London. Although we were leaving by choice to fulfil our dreams of travelling the world, it was still painful to dismantle the lives we had spent almost four years building in a city we absolutely loved. Back then I had no idea when we’d return to London and I was worried that travel would spoil the city for me; that my love for it would fade. Now we’re back after over 15 months of travel and I’m relieved to say that my fears dissolved the moment I stepped off the train at Waterloo station - I felt like I’d finally arrived home.
We’ve been back in the UK for over a month now and after an incredible homecoming we’ve settled back into life here more easily than I ever imagined we would. As I write this we’re sat at the kitchen table in someone else’s beautiful South-London home while their cute five-month-old miniature schnauzer mills around our feet. We’re house and pet sitting for the first time in our favourite city and even though it’s raining outside, life in London is undeniably great.
After 13 bleary hours in the air we arrived back in England on the 6th June to blue skies and sunshine, a perfect reflection of the joy we felt to be back on home turf. The weeks since then have been a blur of visits and reunions, family meals, picnics, walks and planning for the future. So, how have we adjusted to life back in the UK after the adventure of our lives?
What will it be like to return to the place our adventure began, all those months ago? I vividly remember sitting in the departure lounge at Heathrow in March last year after saying our goodbyes, unable to comprehend that our new life of travel was about to begin. Back then we had no idea what was in store for us, we couldn’t have imagined that we’d end up volunteering in a disaster zone; that we’d sleep out in the jungles of Borneo, get homesick in Indonesia, learn to ride a scooter or end up spending nearly a third of our trip in Thailand. So on Thursday when we say goodbye to this adventure and board a plane back to England, I will do so hoping the next phase of our lives will be as unpredictable, intense and incredible as these past fifteen months have been.
“What, is that,” said Andrew, pointing to the bed where we’d just settled down to catch-up on some episodes of The Walking Dead. I peered closer, my breath catching in my throat as I recognised the small, flat insect scuttling across the sheet.“A bedbug,” I replied in horror, my mind spiralling backwards in time to my last horrifying encounter with these disgusting beasts.
It’s finally arrived, my last evening in London. As I type this I’m surrounded by a flat full of stuff that needs to be sorted and packed but all I really want to do is absorb everything. For a few weeks now I’ve had the sensation that everything’s out of my control, like we’re hurtling full speed towards our departure date and I’m most certainly not the person in the driving seat. We may have finished work and said our goodbyes, but I still feel like I’ve yet to come to terms with leaving my city.
I grew-up in Wales, my parents still live in the same house and when I speak to my siblings we always refer to it as ‘home’; even though we haven’t permanently lived there for years. Whenever I think of Wales or go back there it invokes happy childhood memories of having no responsibilities and playing football until dusk. All that changed when I moved to Bristol for University and then on to London to become a teacher. Although I haven’t lived in Wales since, I will always think of it as my childhood home and would recommend visiting.
Guess what? It’s snowing!One of the things we’re looking forward to when we travel is escaping the dreary British weather; we’ll definitely be glad to see the back of all the lukewarm summers and soggy grey winters. There is, however, one type of weather we love: Snow.
On a cold Wednesday night almost exactly eight years ago, I was dancing away with my housemate Kelly in our usual student haunt, an 80s themed nightclub in my beloved University city, Bristol. Drunk on £1 bottles of apple VK and deliriously dancing along to Wham, Madonna and the Dirty Dancing sound track I spotted a long-haired (equally drunk) 21-year-old Andrew across the dance-floor and the rest, as they say, is history.
The UK isn’t exactly feeling very festive right now; instead of crisp snow and freezing temperatures we’re being treated to rain, rain and more rain – so much so that there’s severe flooding in some areas and more than the usual dose of seasonal transport chaos. Instead of letting it get us down we headed to the Hyde Park Christmas Winter Wonderland to get in the festive spirit.