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Saturday, 21 May 2011

Travels Without My Laptop

Mat and me at the proposal of Richmond Hill...Saturday 2nd April

Home. It's nice to see you again. It has been a while.

Arriving back in Heathrow on a cloudy day, it was comforting to note that very little had changed. It took much longer to land than it had in any of the other international cities I'd visited over the last three months. And as we emerged from the plane, bleary-eyed and weary-bodied we could rest assured that it would be at least an hour or more before the baggage handlers stirred themselves from yet another tea break to unearth our luggage from the plane and onto the conveyor belts. That is, for those of us lucky enough to have baggage to claim.

Mat "just checking" that we are where we're supposed to be. Brecon Beacons.

I had played out in my head over and over again seeing Mat again and spending the day together revisiting some of our favourite local places. Initially I felt extraordinarily shy and self conscious, seeing my husband - of a few months - but partner of nearly six years again, after so many strange places, and cultural and work experiences apart. After finding that my wreck of a car had successfully made it to the airport it was soon back to the serious business of catching up together, planning where to eat burgers for lunch (The Teddington Arms...I have yet to find a better burger in west London), where to go for an afternoon walk (through Ham and Richmond Park to Richmond Hill, and home again, and what to drink (a delicious glass of rose) while attempting the Guardian prize crossword.

Living in a climate where the lowest temperature is 28 degrees on a very cool morning indeed, I loved the medium-strength warm weather of the UK in April; being able to complete an easy 10 mile walk through Richmond Park with no other fear of traffic than the odd passing stag (or buggy) felt tremendously freeing. The cool breezes and the budding trees were the familiar spring time signs I had been expecting to see for so long, and were with me at last. Stranger to me now was the continuous stream of consciousness I experienced comparing every sight and sound to the Ghanaian equivalents so recently left behind. Gone "JESUS IS LORD" plastered in bold, large letters across the back windows of aggressive-horn-honking taxis; no more stripy lizards darting between my toes. Back to midges, not mosquitoes. Home.

I've now been back nearly two months, and have been on holiday and, after that, at home in London awaiting my next assignment - perhaps even in London for the first time. My own bed again. Running along the Thames again, rather than sweating it out for 10 miles on a treadmill. Power Yoga where the poses actually do something than make me wonder who taught the teacher. Baking with implements other than a metal slotted spoon and two metal saucepans. Home comforts. Ah.

At the top of the Sugar Loaf in Abergavenny. So happy to be at the top, and about to eat crisps to celebrate!

Mat and I embraced our holiday time together with a mini honeymoon trip to the Brecon Beacons. And as the icy sleet cut my cheeks at the top of Fan y Big (yes, it is genuinely, without irony, called that) and I shivered to the bone in my waterproof jacket and trousers, and I lovingly called out to Mat, "Who the bloody hell's idea was this?" I thought to myself: it's good to be home.

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