Saturday, 31 December 2011

The journey so far.

Picking up the thread from Abu Dhabi...

We are delayed by thick fog, and when we finally leave, it's through a surreal landscape of desert sand and white mist. I hope to get a better look at Abu Dhabi on the way back.

The second leg of the flight is an odd one. I can't sleep and can't watch telly (the in-flight entertainment system is dead). By the time I arrive at Heathrow I’ve done half a dozen cryptic crosswords, read 50 pages of When God was a Rabbit, and am well and truly ready to put my feet on solid ground, breathe some proper non-pressurised air and meet (dramatic music) The Family. I have no trouble recognising cousin Helen at the airport, and off we go to Epsom.

It’s been almost 30 years since I last saw Auntie Min, but the years have just melted away. My cousins – even the ones I’ve never met, like Helen – don’t feel like strangers, and it's lovely to reacquaint myself with those I’ve met already. We spend hours looking at old photos of ourselves (and taking some new ones).

 Alan & I  used to be best buddies when we were little, and got up to all sorts of mischief. It was Ally who taught me to play Knock Down Ginger (sssssh, don't tell Auntie Min!)
 Steve is my Epsom tour guide and shopping buddy. I have to run to keep up with him. He has an amazing memory for dates and events, and knows heaps about the history of the local area.
 Ah, my lovely Auntie Min. A wicked sense of humour and a heart the size of Phar Lap's!

These precious days of just being family run into one another. We’re not doing anything special, but every minute feels special. There’s no pressure. The daily rhythms and routines are soothing – and of course, once I’ve organised a SIM card and a dongle, life is complete!

Waitrose, Sainsburys, Poundland… call me weird, but I really like poking around supermarkets in foreign places. Leave me in the main shopping precinct, and while I won’t exactly shop till I drop, I’ll certainly browse for hours - it's all about getting a feel for local tastes and habits, I suppose, and exploring the similarities and differences between home and here.

Early in the year my friend Lucy’s mum, Ann, came to Australia and we did a girly road trip to the chocolate factory and ghost house at Junee. At that time (and occasionally during our online Scrabble games as well) Ann had said to be sure to contact her when I come to the UK – so of course I make sure I do - besides, I am delivering Lucy's Christmas mail to her family!)

 Lunch at the pub in Worcester Park

Ann and I take Auntie Min to the pub for lunch on Thursday, and then Ann whisks me away to Wokingham. My head is in a whirl – I don’t know what’s where or what – things seem familiar yet unfamiliar at the same time. I really do feel like a stranger in the land of my birth! The traffic is chaotic (‘this is nothing!’ says Ann) and fast, on such narrow streets. I can’t get used to darkness falling around 4pm. It feels like the middle of the night by about 6pm!

I'm waking between 3 and 4am most days, which is around the time I often wake at home, so I think I’m pretty much over my jetlag. I use the wee hours to get started on a new novel (and, today, to catch up on blogging!) I’m having a ball.

(Next: a Neolithic Adventure)


1 comment:

Diary of an Unfinished Woman said...

Hey lovely lady you're back!! Will you be coming anywhere near Newmarket...I no long have the shop but still do a little selling of delish clothes and stuff but more into my artful treasure making stuff and retreats...how are you going? One of my dear friends has moved over to OZ and how we miss her..nice for you to catch up with all your relatives ...enjoy and go steady xx have a blast xx Berni from Vintage Angel x x