Keep Calm and …
…take a whirlwind trip to the UK!
It was 3.30pm, and I had just left school. I had enough time to rush home, pop to the chemist to purchase some much-needed anti-travel sickness pills, and get changed before heading to the airport. I had spent the last few weeks furiously planning, prepping, and (between you and me) panicking about this upcoming trip. Will my class get all their work done? Will the house be overcome with ants and possums when I return? Will my dogs forget who I am?!?!
Having cleaned the house, packed my bags, and dropped off the furbabies the night before, most of the hard work was over. Now all we had to do was endure three separate flights, with a total of 27.5 hours of travel time (including stop overs). Piece of cake!
And now, finally, we’re here, and I can’t help but feel at home.
Hello sunny old England! And I say that in the least sarcastic way as possible – honestly!
Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself.
The Farmhouse is particularly lovely in Summer!
We have just spent our first day in the UK, and I have to say – I’m glad to be back. It’s strangely surreal…how a place thousands of miles away can be so foreign and yet so familiar at the same time. My first day back, I spent my day wandering the streets of London solo, with Ryan at a business meeting. I am pleasantly surprised that I can still navigate my way fairly well, and that for the first time in quite a few weeks I feel completely calm.
Not that Australia isn’t a calm place, of course. In fact, in contrast, everyone in London seems to work at double the pace of any major Australian capital city. However, it being the Friday before a long weekend, and one of the few sunny days of the year, there is a definite positive undertone to the place that most do not often associate with London.
I took the opportunity of a day by myself to return to my old stomping grounds – for just for a stroll past however, working 40+ hours a week here for 3 months gave me enough Walkabout to last me a lifetime I think!
From Embankment I walked up to the Covent Garden Markets, where my eyes and ears were bombarded with a cacophony of pleasures – I walked through the Jubilee Market Hall (reminded me very much of a typical South American market hall, dozens of vendors all selling identical items), and made my way past Jamie Oliver’s Union Jacks (where I was so tempted to stop for lunch) to the Apple Market. Far from the fruit and veg that I was anticipating, I was pleased to see rows of handmade artisan crafts – and had to physically force myself away from some absolutely breathtaking water coloured coasters and pot mats. Upon leaving, I fell equally in love with the voice of a busker – if only I had a quid or two on me!
From the markets I wandered through the streets, past Drury Lane (and no, I didn’t see the muffin man – though I did buy a coffee…and get a little disappointed – I am in the land of the Tea Drinkers!) to Leicester Square, past all the theatres to Trafalgar Square and back to The Strand. The sunny day was a far cry from wandering up to The Strand to the bus back to Earl’s Court at 4am in the morning after a 10 hour shift at Temple Walkabout (and yes, I was one of THOSE Aussie expats). Throughout the whole morning, the thing that struck me the most was that, again, I was touched with a sense of calmness at being surrounded by familiarity.
I found myself at a squirrelled away pub called Theodore Bullfrog, and ordered myself a cider and an unconventional pub lunch – a vegetarian wrap with salad. Hey, who said I can’t merge the old with the new?
Ryan came to meet me and we strolled across the bridge to the Southbank Centre’s temporary food market, in honour of the Festival of Love – it was refreshing to be in a city not afraid to be loud and proud (I can only hope that Australia follow suit soon). An Ice Cream just topped off the already lovely day. I enjoyed it so much I saved some for later!
We caught the South Easern Rail from Waterloo back to Tonbridge and met up with Uncle Richard, and after popping into Waitrose for a bottle of wine (or six!) made our way back to the farmhouse for a relaxing afternoon of watching The Hobbit and awaiting the arrival of the next house guest – Dad!
Tomorrow will be a little more relaxed again, I feel. A little exercise, a little more grocery shopping, and a lot of wedding talk before Mum and Grace arrive. Can’t wait!