Back to Blighty
It’s been a wee while coming but for pretty much the entirety of June the family and I visited friends and relatives back home in England. Whilst I did pop back last year for my Grandma’s funeral this was our first trip back together and our first with Chloë. The first hurdle, getting there, was surprisingly smooth as Chloë rarely complained during the flights there with only one really hiccup on the final hop from Dubai. I would imagine most parents with a small child would envy us and we were both quite thankful that she travelled well both to and from England. One interesting point was that the car drive from Heathrow to Lincoln, our first destination, felt surprisingly short as clearly our time in Australia had affected what counts as a long journey.
We started our holiday in Lincoln with Cat catching up with close friends and family. It’s been just over 2 years since we left and while some things had changed other things were very much still the same. Everyone got lots of smiles from Chloë and she really only felt overwhelmed once when there was too much going on in Pip’s house. I visited my first real pub in ages and had a lovely pint of ale. Couple that with a Sunday roast with Yorkshire puddings on arrival and you couldn’t really ask for much more. Whilst Lincoln was supposed to be an easing in to things it turned out to be much more full-on that we’d first anticipated with some friends making extra effort to come see us. We also got to catch up with Loralei and the kids which I really quite enjoyed, even if I had to get my angry dad face on at some kids at the play area we went to. It was also fantastic to meet the girls who neither of us had met but also the boys who’d grown up a lot since I last saw them when the were 3 months old. After a final morning catching up with Cat’s Dad & step Mum we headed of to my parents in Yorkshire which was another short car drive away in our newly acquired hire car.
One of the highlights of our stay in Yorkshire was lunch with my extended family from Scotland. Unfortunately not everyone could make it but it was fantastic so many could and meet Chloë who, as usual, was very sociable and all smiles! Whilst the weather wasn’t that great (read raining) stopping us from exploring the grounds it was a lovely place to dine and catch up. I also got the chance to catch up with my good friend Andy as we had a fair amount to catch up on which culminated with an evening meal at Jamie’s Italian in York which now resides above my favourite pub The Lendal Cellars. Cat and I also took a trip to my hometown of Redcar and we sought out Bessie’s bench in Saltburn which was particularly poignant for me. We also managed to catch up with Bri & Vicki in York though I managed to spoil the surprise Bri had been lining up; sorry! It’s a shame that we were going to miss Le Tour De France grand depart which starts in Leeds on the 5th July.
We then made our way down to Bristol where we were to have Chloë’s UK Welcome. By this point the weather had turned from pretty good to glorious with the temperature pushing 30º by Saturday. This was perfect as we decided to hold a meet up at a local pub so people could come and go as they please, catch up with us and meet Chloë too. I hopped across to my cricket club nearby a couple of times too and it was a great way to spend a Saturday. Sunday we were at Blaise Castle for Chloë’s Welcome which went wonderfully well with two very touching promises to Chloë. I even managed to go for a bike ride with Mark which was awesome as I knew this would be a holiday bereft of physical activity. Cat and I often went our separate ways to catch up with various people but also to go shopping as we’d packed light and intended to come home with more than we left with. I also took the opportunity to go back to my old workplace which had changed quite a bit in the two years I’d be gone but it was lovely to see some familiar faces.
Our final stopping point for our trip was in Bournemouth where the weather continued to be kind and was complimented by trips to the beach and pancakes! Bournemouth was quieter in many respects than our other destinations which was fantastic and allowed us to wind down a bit before heading back to Australia. We did a little more shopping, Mair joined us for a few days and Cath overnight as well as enjoying our stay with Ruth & Michael. It was a full house with us there but it was great fun and I think Chloë really enjoyed playing all the different games. Sadly our time in England drew to a close and we got ourselves back to Heathrow for the long journey home. Again Chloë was awesome on all flights barely making a peep and sleeping on all three legs. The final hop was very light on passengers which allowed me to bag a set of three seats to myself to get some sleep as we had a long car journey ahead to get us back to Canberra.
As I sit here now almost a week on from our return I know two things. Firstly Canberra is very much home and towards the end of our trip I was looking forward to getting back. Equally, however, I will always miss England and our friends and family who live there. Our trips back won’t be as frequent as we’d like but each one we’ll look forward to and treasure. It’s a shame it costs so much and takes so long to get there but know that we’ll travel back as often as time and money allow it and next time Chloë will be older and will hopefully remember the trip too!