Friday 9th Dec 2016
As we emerged from the terminal at Heathrow a blast of sub-freezing, predawn London air hit us with a sharp sting across our faces, we gulped it hungrily, we were home. Sunrise revealed a beautiful cold frosty morning and we were treated to a couple of beautiful bright but chilly days, unfortunately this is England and soon the cloud and drizzle has returned, however the warm and generous welcome of our friends and family has beaten off the cold. Well that and the coats and boots we retrieved from the storage unit.
We have been revelling in the comforts of home, taking long deep lazy baths or showers with limitless supplies of hot, high pressure water, then there’s warm centrally heated houses and roaring log fires, not to mention fridges full to the brim, proper tea with english biscuits and crusty brown bread.
We are surprisingly still suffering from jet lag, we begin to fade towards the end of the afternoon becoming positively comatosed past about eight. We must apologise to everyone for our glazed expressions over all the delicious suppers we have been served over the past week. Of course at four in the morning we find ourselves wide awake and starving hungry, such is the life of a traveller.
Venturing out into the real world I opened my ‘stirling’ purse, disturbing it from over a years slumber at the back of the chart table. Bursting with plastic cards – bank cards, credit cards, store cards, membership cards, it is testament to how complicated life use to be. In the centre section the coins were stuck together in a rusty lump but it wasn’t just the cash that was rusty, we are having to gradually drag ourselves, creaking, back into the modern world. Our long absence perfectly demonstrated by my squeal of childish delight the first time I paid for something using contactless payment. Or take the use of our phones, it is not so much a matter of remembering how to use them, as remembering actually to use them, the ease and immediacy of communication is a real novelty. Driving has been surprisingly tiring especially in the dark and drizzle and the less said about our confused expressions as we stared blankly at the new slick, high tech, parking ticket machines in the shopping centre, the better.
The Christmas season here is in full swing and despite joining the hordes in a rush of retail extravagance we feel totally detached. The annual cyclic nature of our old life has been replaced, with no sense of the passing seasons and as we continually travel forward to the new experiences of our next destination our path has become linear.
Despite the culture shock of our return we have been comforted, that in the company of our friends, it is as if we have never been away and I’m sure it will only take a few Christmas songs in the car, a few hours of present wrapping and the smell of Christmas ham simmering to get into the festive mood.