Today it is March 28th – a date that will be forever etched into my mind.
The reason is that it was the date, in 2012, that I zipped up my suitcase and headed off to Sydney airport for a flight to the UK … only this time, clutching a one-way ticket and lugging all my remaining possessions with me.
It seems like it was only yesterday.
Memories of Australia remain warm and vivid – much like the Antipodean landscape itself – and yet, it is now exactly 2 years since I returned to ‘back home’.
There are things I miss about Oz, the people in particular, but I have been fortunate to be able to see quite a few Aussie friends on their visits to the UK over the last 2 years.
Inevitably when I do meet up with pals from down under, especially if they are former Poms, they are always intrigued about how I’ve found it adapting back to life in England, particularly after such a long time away.
Some seem to treat our conversation as a form of self-therapy, using it as a way of re-confirming why they love it in Australia and could never come back to live in England.
But others seem almost wistful as we chat, as if pondering how life would have been for them if they too had returned to Blighty.
“So, what’s it like being back” my visitors will ask me. “What do you most like about living here again?”.
So, in answer to that question and to celebrate the second anniversary of my return, here is a list of ’10 things I love about being back home’.
1. Seasons – I love the fact my year is now made up of four distinct seasons, each with its own unique characteristics. From the new growth of Spring, to the long Summer nights, to the golden beauty of Autumn to the frosts and snows of Winter. The seasons provide a sense of progress and rhythm to each year and I’d forgotten how much I’d missed that.
2. Countryside – I lived all of my childhood in the English countryside and it became part of my DNA. I love the greenery, the fields, the hedgerows, the country lanes, the trees, the flowers. And although I am living in a different part of England to where I was raised, the local countryside now feels like home and never fails to lift my spirits whenever I get to walk, run, cycle or drive through it.
3. History – I work in a modern office in London, but each day I walk over Tower Bridge and past the Tower of London. If I look up, I can see St Paul’s Cathedral. When I return home, I walk along cobbled streets and past the ruins of an old castle. History is everywhere and I appreciate it more now than I ever did when I lived here before.
4. Humour – Yes, there are some brilliant comedians from Britain, but I’m talking more about the everyday humour that seems so prevalent. The self-deprecation that peppers conversations at work, in the pub or at the school gates. The sense of the absurd. The dry one liners. The banter. I’ve met so many naturally funny people since I’ve been back, I hardly have a need for professional comedians any more.
5. Sunday papers – growing up in England, the Sunday papers were a bit of a tradition in our house. Now that I’m back, The Sunday Times has once again resumed pride of place in my Sunday ritual and although I probably should be reading it on my tablet, I love being able to divide the newspaper up and wade through the different sections and articles, kids permitting of course.
6. Wildlife – on my first day back in England, I saw a squirrel in the back garden. Later that day, I went for a walk to ward off jet-lag and saw some rabbits. Then a heron, beside a lake. A few days later, I saw a fox crossing the road. Then some deer. My kids are amazed at the variety of wildlife that is so close to home.
7. Family – a key reason for returning was proximity to family. Now, rather than cram two years into two weeks, I can experience those smaller moments that many people (who aren’t separated from family by 10,000 miles) take for granted. This weekend is Mothers Day and I get to see my mum in person rather than try to schedule a phone call and hope that Interflora got the address right. And my brother and sister will be there too.
8. Climate – fair enough, this Winter was a bit on the damp side, but overall, I do find that the more temperate climate suits me better and in a strange way, I probably get more exposure to Vitamin D here than I did in Sydney where my summers were generally spent in air conditioning, the shade or else smothered in 30+ sunscreen.
9. Sport – those that know me, know that I love my sport and being able to once again experience the passionate atmospheres of live football games, cricket test matches and rugby internationals has been a real treat. But aside from going to live events, just being back in the heart of the British sporting culture again has been wonderful. And of course, we have another World Cup coming up soon where hopes can once again be falsely raised.
10. Location – I feel fortunate to have so many exciting destinations on my doorstep. I live near the sea, work in London and am only a short flight from places as diverse as Paris, Reykjavik, Madrid and Athens. And with flights being so affordable nowadays, I plan to take full advantage of being in the heart of Europe.
So there you have it. Maybe not the definitive list, but 10 things nevertheless that immediately sprung to mind and help underline how for me, the decision to relocate has so far been a very successful one.
Meanwhile, with the clocks going forward tomorrow and Summer time on the way, I’m full of anticipation for all that Year Three has in store for me ‘back home’.