We’re taking an overnight flight to the UK and of course, I slept a lot already. It’s only in more recent years that I’ve been able to even sleep a little bit on planes. Except for that one time out of Guangzhou, I was lucky enough to start to talking to a girl as we were waiting for departure. Just by chance, she knew the staff working the counter and wrangled an upgrade to business class for herself. She was kind enough to come back down to cattle and tell me to follow her back to business class, where there was a spare seat. Best sleep on a plane ever, and probably the last time I’ll enjoy that too.
Our plane in and out of London is the new A380 and it is huge. Even for the likes of us paupers, it feels like there is a little more room to breathe at least. I barely manage to sleep though.
We arrive in London around 6am and the weather has me instantly cold and chilled (not in the relaxed sense at all). We pick up a hire car, which is amazing but I keep forgetting that it is manual and stall it at every roundabout. Then we take the wrong lane and exit off the motorway and the sky is grey and the rain is drizzling just that annoying amount to make the wipers screech. I am thoroughly depressed already.
Somehow the shitty English coffee manages to take off the edge at least for a while. Just remember not to watch what the barista actually does and just go by taste. I think I had one half decent coffee this trip – which is one more than last time I visited the UK.
As we arrive in Brighton the sun very occasionally decides to show itself. We’re staying at Amy’s university friend’s house and she just happens to live herself on Brighton Marina. Sometimes I feel especially lucky to find myself in such beautiful places just through the people that I know.
It’s a great little house, and when I say little, I always forget just how tiny and compact English houses are. And doors – always doors. Gotta keep that heat in.
Amy has decided that we must eat Indian food on this trip and, as they are everywhere, it’s only a short walk to our lunch. It’s cold and even the slightest breeze is enough to make us shudder. We have prepared appropriate coats but there’s still the other bits turning blue. Luckily the sun decides to stay for a long while and the sky turns blue. Wait, are we still in England, in February?
Amy’s friend, Bookie, speaks with the typical American accent of her tutors from years ago. Something that I (or Australia) have managed to change with Amy over the years. She doesn’t sound English and not really Aussie but at least it’s not American.
Bookie is married to an airline pilot and he is away 20 days a month and he’s away now, arriving back in the following couple of days for his birthday. They have a five-year-old son called Kyle and when he comes home from school I’m tasked with keeping him entertained whilst food is prepared. We have fun playing Star Wars action figures and making up stories.
Later, Amy and I enjoy the comforts of a nice soft bed and perfect pillows. Back at Amy’s parent’s house, the bed we are sleeping on may as well be a block of concrete – it’s good for learning to sleep on a tiled floor though. The only downside of the night is I wake up having a coughing fit and end up in the living room for a spell. Amy is starting to catch it too and her voice is starting to crack.
We wake up again to brilliant sunshine and coffee’d up (instant) we hit the road, passing Arundel castle and some other Olde Worlde buildings. The history and mystery of England is a little bit magical for me if only the temperature was more appealing.
Heading along the coast we get back into very familiar territory for me, with roads I travelled repeatedly in other glory days. We soon arrive at my cousin’s house and are treated to a warm welcome of food and central heating, along with discussions about details for my mother’s funeral and some other minor details that need to be sorted whilst I’m here.
My cousin, Sharon and her husband Ken have been doing all the hard graft for my mother and for me, of course, over the last 18 months or so. I’m so lucky that she has been here and willing to assist with everything.
It still doesn’t seem real that my mother isn’t here to talk to, to show pictures and to keep updated on the minutiae of everyday life. I feel sad about that but not overly emotional. I keep wondering if I’m going to sit down one day and have a big cry. Maybe. I’ve upped my dose of antidepressants recently, in preparation for my big life move and it’s likely they are helping keep things smooth for me emotionally.
Another coughing fit just after going to bed sees me again relocating to the living room until I’m on the verge of sleep when I return to bed and later Amy wakes me with coughing of her own.
The weather is excellent again and even though it’s cold there’s little wind to bring in the chill. We drive back to my hometown and go to the bank where my mum and I have a joint account and sort out access for Sharon to deal with expenses etc. Amy and I spend a little more time walking around, returning again for pizza at Piccolo Mondo, once my favourite pizza ever, not so much these days though, it’s still good though.
We take ourselves on a country drive as I search out Bulbarrow Hill. I love this place. It sparks that mystical quality of olden days more than some of the other places scattered around the south, even more than Stonehenge. It’s a fabulous view and the sun’s rays break through the scattering of clouds.
I have time to scoff down some more home cooked food, that Sharon says isn’t to her usual quality but it tastes great to me. Bring on the cheese, potato, garlic and butter anytime!
I’m off for a quick catch up with old school friends Rupert and Murray, though we barely have time with our busy schedules. A quick couple of pints and it’s time to head off on our merry ways, and I am feeling quite tipsy. That is until I open the pub door and the cold wind blast instantly sobers me. This forces me to reminisce quite clearly the many many nights spent walking home from the pub, or the local football club, or the school field where we huddled around a couple of cans of beer and maybe a fire. Those days were either hell fun or hell shit depending on my mood and what was going on around me. I miss the good bits. A lot.
Edit: Could not stop humming this tune during these few days – https://youtu.be/xk2QbCDRP0U