A blog about writing, reading, travelling and great characters I meet in life. I love these things more than cheese-on-toast times trampolines times monkeys.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Midnight in London - home and still away

I was expecting to hit home with a thud.

After a year of travelling, mainly in Asia, surely it would be all a bit weird and rubbish coming back to England? And in freeeeeezing Febrrrruary?

A grey-times-sludge-green experience.

But when I got home, there was no thud. Just a few bounces - as if I'd dropped from the clouds on to a supersize trampoline.

There were blue skies the day after flying home - yes it was cold, but OH YES, IT WAS SUNNY!

Big Ben leaned over and gave me a wink through the coach window as I travelled from Victoria Station to Cambridge. It was good to see the old leaning tower of London!

In Cambridge, I ate home-made parsnip soup with my Mum, roast lamb with my Dad and a truckload of cheese with my some of my oldest friends. My niece brought me a pink cupcake and we had a sleepover. My nephew showed me his wobbly almost-walking and his command of alien-speak.

And there were some fabulous blotchy skies - a blend of colours to rival any Asian sky.

Back to work in London - and I had a surprise phone call from a very old friend who was in town. We went for dinner in Covent Garden - gorgeous steak and chips and a platter of puddings for dessert.

Covent Garden is still one of my favourite parts of London, it has been since I was a child. I love Covent Garden in the summer, watching the street performers from the pavement edge on a Sunday - when the clock goes all melty like a Dali painting.

I'm looking forward to another meal in Covent Garden tonight - that's one tip I have for long-term travellers returning home, celebrate in whatever way is right for you - for me, it's eating good food with people I like.

Looking back at some photos in my phone, I came across these two exhibits I'd seen in the Saatchi Gallery on King's Road before going away.

These photos reminded me how fantastic London is for the arts and culture. So many museums to wander around - and many for free.

I love Southbank. Relaxing with a paper in Royal Festival Hall, listening to free concerts, chatting to weird and wonderful characters that show up.

Or dropping into the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. I'm always surprised by what I find - for example, I remember seeing Ai Weiwei's Sunflower Seeds there in 2010. One hundred million hand-made, hand-painted porcelain sunflower seeds spread across the floor like a beach scape - the most powerful artistic commentary I've ever seen on China.

I've still got loads to write about Asia - mainly about India - a country that challenged and rewarded me like no other this past year. 'Infinitely surprising' is the way my Mum's partner Dave describes India - and as a first time traveller to India, I have to agree with those words.

But the main thing I'm happy about is this. At just after midnight last night in London, I realised it's completely possible for me to carry on 'travelling' now I'm back at home.

Blackheath looked magical to me as I walked from the station to my sister's house.

There were lights in the trees.

Street lanterns.

And mine were the only pair of feet on some fresh snow.

I've seen the heath hundreds of times before, but last night it looked and felt completely new.

And waking up this morning, it felt like Christmas.

My lovely sister made us cuppas.

And she took some pics of the snowy garden.

I am so happy to be home...

...and the adventure is still on!


  1. How weird to check your site out and find you are newly returned. We must arrange a mini-meet. You still sound like you're on that travel 'high'. Long may ii last.

  2. Hi Lesley, yes it's still feeling good. I'm going to make it last - let's do something fun in Cambridge together soon - discover some hidden secrets of my home town!