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Published: April 24th 2010
(P) Getting on the plane to head back to Blighty
proved to be quite a kerfuffle. We had posted some stuff home but, as it turned out, not nearly enough! We both had laptop bags; mine contained a laptop and plenty of papers (perhaps passable as reading material for a very fast reader). Nick's laptop bag contained a multi-region DVD player and a carry-wallet stuffed with CDs. He also wore a t-shirt and 3 long sleeved tops, with 2 jumpers tied around the waist; as well as a large raincoat whose pockets were heaving with books and an underwater camera. For my 'handbag' I had a large bag that contained a thick photo album. Additional to the small wheelie case for hand luggage, for 'reading matter', Nick had a briefcase stuffed with photo frames and books and also, most brazenly, a sizeable plastic duty free bag that contained large photo frames, because he "wasn't going to buy any duty free, so why not use the allowance...?!"
We eventually managed it onto the plane, after some negotiations with the airline and ditching a few things. The 26-hour journey was broken up by a stop in Singapore, where the loveliest walk-through flower
Nick visits Ben's London abode
Overlooking a good old English cricket green
display of orchids adorned a small corner of the transfer area. “I don’t imagine there’ll be anything like this in Heathrow when we arrive…I thought to myself…but home is home!”
I came to realise during the flight a reason partly why the check-in staff had been lenient (in the end) with our “generous” hand luggage - whilst I was minding my own business watching a film, several of the cabin crew approached our seats all at once. I wondered what the matter was, but it turned out that Nick had told Singapore Airlines that it was our 3rd anniversary
(which in fact it was!) and they produced a little tray with not only sparkling apple juice in plastic flutes but a yummy chocolate cake for us to celebrate - how lovely!!
My sister’s husband, Goshi and my dad collected us from the airport and we enjoyed a welcome home dinner in Langley. In some ways it didn’t feel like we hadn't been home in almost a year, but when we stopped to think about all we’d seen and done in that time, it certainly seemed at least that long. My brother Simon and his girlfriend Asa were also
Like mother-in-law, like daughter
Paula & Georgie enjoy a tipple, Jennings Brewery
over from Dublin and we caught up with them too in Windsor, along with Simon’s friend Chris and my cousin Sheilagh (who met there at our wedding and were back there celebrating 3 years of being together!)
While Nick headed into the big smoke to catch up with his brother Ben, I met school friends which mainly involved chatting, lounging, a tea party and a leisurely stroll past fields of cows to a great pub serving oversized sandwiches and other good food.
Also whilst 'daan saaf' we had a day out with Uni friends at Greenwich
- a day of sunshine around the park, Observatory and beside the Thames, rounding off with a long-awaited curry in Brick Lane
. It was great to catch up.
Unfortunately back up in Wallasey we had to say farewell to Nick’s Gran, Winnie Rowlands, who spent a grand 94 years bringing much happiness to both her family and many schoolchildren (and their children!) during her long teaching career. What a joy to have had her around for so long.
A couple of days later, we were whisked off by Nick’s mum and dad, Huw and Georgie to the Lake District
a couple of days of real country air and pure English views - we also got pure English weather rolled in (meaning a good lashing of rain) but a grand time was had by all, including a great sounding (and tasting) wine on the menu: Rowlands Estate
. Other highlights were lunch at the Kirkstone Pass Inn
(the highest in Cumbria and going since 1496, it is known as “The Inn with Altitude”…), a tour of the Jennings Brewery
(Nick had long wanted to go and pay homage to the home of the Sneck Lifter
), and who could fail to be entranced by the prospect of the Cumberland Pencil Museum
(me, for one...).
Of course after all this excitement it was full steam ahead with The Job Hunt
, preparation involving not only CV review of relevant work experience, but also how to answer to inevitable question from potential employers: "So, are you sure
you're not planning to go off travelling again anytime soon..?!" In between applications and job interviews, we treated ourselves to London tourist day, one of the hottest September days in 3 years, firstly walking along the Thames near the Tower of London then taking in The Monument and
Paula on the South Bank, London
River Thames (not as blue as the water in Auckland, admittedly...) and Westminster in the background
its 311 steps to the top (we got certificates to prove our achievement) and the Tower Bridge Exhibition
where we learnt that there are now seahorses and crayfish in the Thames. It was here that Nick got a call with the job offer of a cheese role, so to speak, hurray.
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