The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

All good things……..

on November 20, 2014

So if I have to be awake at 3am I may as well make use of the time and conclude my travels around the UK.

However when I’ve had only a couple of hours sleep these past few days I’m more than likely to ramble on more so than usual. Or not at all as I can honestly say my brain is working a few steps behind.

A whole month has been the longest that Husband has been away from #1, 2 and 3. The month seemed to pass by fairly quickly as we travelled here and there but I know it has been tough on both sides. It was very disconcerting when #3 kept calling every male she encountered ‘Daddy’, I tell you.

Spare a thought for Husband who arrived in the UK for just nine days. Getting over jet lag one way only to encounter it in triple force a couple of days later. How do international jet setters do it?

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Even just six weeks of road tripping in the UK has been enough for me. I think I’ve seen enough of the A1 for awhile. I have never found the A1 as interesting as the M1 mostly due to the service stations being rubbish. But this time back, I’m rather disturbed by the presence of several Adult Sex Shops in BIG LETTERS on either side of the A1. That’s just wrong. And very unsavoury UK. Though I suppose if you needed some emergency pants then you’d find some semblance of pants there.

Anyways, after a big London night out with The Ones, Husband and I spent a couple of days with #1, 2 and 3 taking in the sights of London Town. It would have been a total shame had we not been able to do so as #1 is old enough to have heard about the London Eye, Big Ben and where the Queen lives.

It’s exciting taking young children to these famous landmarks and reminded me of how much importance was placed on these places (except the London Eye) when I was a child.

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It also happened to be Remembrance Sunday when we were in town. It can’t have escaped your attention that this year marks the centenary of the start of WW1. The streets around Buckingham Palace, The Mall, Houses of Parliament and Downing Street were completely pedestrianised. You couldn’t get right up to the gates of Buckingham Palace but you could amble undisturbed by traffic around the Cenotaph where poppy wreaths had been laid earlier that day.

The thing with sightseeing with children is that you really can’t pack in much and there’s not much point taking them places they have no idea about. But that was ok as we rather enjoyed just walking along the river Thames from the Houses of Parliament past the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral, London Bridge, HMS Belfast, the GLA building, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. Doffing our caps to the pubs we’d once frequented but bypassed this time. We even saw Tower Bridge open up not once but twice in the time we were there, I’ve never seen that before.

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Having marvelled over the fact that Uncle Monkey had never seen The Shard until a couple of weeks ago, I was equally incredulous to discover he had never been on the London Eye before. How is that even possible? Until the revelation came out that he has a huge fear of heights. Well I never, the things you learn about people you’ve known for years. Good job he has us to show him the sights of the capital city he is so very proud of.

When we reached the Tower of London dusk was falling which transformed the mood around this historic landmark. At 4.55pm began the roll call of soldiers who had fallen during the First World War.

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I think York may well be my third most favourite city in England. It’s probably the one I’ve visited the most without having lived there. The last trip back we saw David Gest (you know, him who was once married to Liza Minnelli), strutting around the cobbled streets. I have a not so discreet pap shot of him. If ever you’re up in that area, go and have afternoon tea at Betty’s, I do love Betty’s but I think they have fallen a little out of love with us after #1, 2 and 3 lost the plot a bit and we were presented with the bill without having really asked for it. Take a stroll around York Minster, the Castle Keep and along the river. It’s incredibly beautiful up in York through all the seasons. #1 and I weren’t so keen on exploring the Jorvik Viking Centre which offers a true to life Viking experience complete with sounds and smells. The smell emanating from the Gift Shop was a little bit too realistic and enough to make me retch. I am not tolerant of bad smells.

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We made one more trip up to Newcastle for lunch with my Mum and my Dad, Mr Li, Our Jenn, the Facebook Informant Cousin and Nephew #1. Have I ever mentioned that conversations with my cousins can never be conducted at regular decibels. Everyone has to shout. REALLY LOUDLY. To the point where people around us think we’re having an argument when we’re just talking about the price of peas.

There’s a department store in Newcastle called Fenwicks which has a fabulous window display sequence every Christmas time. It’s like a tradition to mark the start of the festive season to go and have a look at the Fenwicks window. #1, 2 and 3 were fascinated by this year’s Alice in Wonderland theme. They were especially taken by the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party window. I wonder why.

So this trip started off with a wedding and ends with a wedding too with #1, 2 and 3 playing some very special roles for Sister in Law’s wedding to our new Brother in Law. Sister in Law looked absolutely stunning as the radiant Bride. It was a great family occasion and one more chance to see some of our friends before we were due to leave the UK the next day.

It’s always a pleasure to bear witness to Uncle Monkey and Mr Steamer getting absolutely mortal. When my partying shift was over and I was saying farewell to people, Uncle Monkey was shimmying on the dancefloor in hot pink flip flops with a fair few shirt buttons undone (not enough to bare nipple as staring at them is rude) and Mr Steamer had lost the ability to understand coherent human speech.

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Small people dressed up in fancy outfits is very cute. Especially #1 looking so proud dressed in his smart trousers, shirt, cravat and waist coat. Good job he had a full six weeks practice of wearing many layers to build up to this part. #2 took her role as flower girl very seriously and was very insistent that it involved carrying the train of Sister in Law’s gown. #3 loves a good dress up and couldn’t wait to put on her dress and literally ran up the aisle to hang out with the Groom. Then during the ceremony, #3 decides it’s a good time to practice her fake belching. Quickly joined by #2. Fake belching during a wedding ceremony by a 2 and 4 year old. They are very good at it I must say.

And just in case we haven’t made good use of every moment we’ve had in the UK, Mr Cupping and his family came over for lunch just before we had to depart for Heathrow Airport. I’m really glad they did too so that we could give our Congratulations in person to the whole family for the exciting and happy times ahead of them.

So, as all good things go, that concludes our six weeks and three days away.

I had high expectations as you know and it has been the best. I certainly feel I’ve made up for the three years I haven’t been back. After six years of living a life abroad, I’ve had the privilege of many great experiences which I’m very thankful for. But what it has taught me the most is an appreciation for what I have in family and friends in the UK. That over time, these relationships haven’t weakened but have in fact strengthened.

Some things have changed of course and the economy, the Government, some public services may not be ideal but to be honest, where on this earth is everything ideal. The prospect of moving back is daunting and what I’ve just experienced has been a fabulous long holiday and nothing like what real life would be like. Yet, even so, we’ll all be in it together and you can tell me all I need to know as I still don’t know how to apply for schools.

I’ve seen as many people as I could and I love you just as much. I’ve caught up with some really old friends and made some lovely new ones. I’ve eaten everything that I wanted to and perhaps shouldn’t. I’ve drunk many a proper pint of draught Guinness and developed a new love of whiskey. #1, 2 and 3 agreed that the UK is brilliant and they enjoyed everything we did.

But I do know they also want to be back home. And home for now is Singapore, which is also ok.

Now please can I get some sleep in my comfy, cosy bed I’ve really missed!

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