I went. I saw. I drank tea. I almost conquered!
I have nearly finished my six week sojourn in the UK. No family member was left unhugged, and no old friend was left unvisited. It was a whirlwind whistlestop British tour of the Southern and Western parts of my teenage hood. I do this every year, with the exception of 2012, when I fancied a quiet summer at home. Next year, I may do a re-run of 2012.
Visiting the rellies has always been something I both crave, and dread, in equal measures. Since moving abroad in 2001, it has become almost a yearly pilgrimage; replacing all those relaxing beach holidays, and other exotic trips in favour of ‘keeping up with the family!’ I may sound resentful; and truth be told, sometimes I am! I actually didn’t want to make the trip at all this year. The journey from Switzerland to the UK is exhausting, long, and boring, and I really, really don’t like the ferry, OR flying; so either way it brings me out in hives of anxiety. But my two girls wanted to come. They miss their English cousins and Grandmother; so who am I to deny them? My husband, (the swiss one!) was also keen, surprisingly! “You really don’t have to come,” I told him, looking for an excuse, any excuse to defer the trip. “I know”, he said good-naturedly, (he’s always so damned good natured) “but I like to. It’s interesting for me.” It often amazes me how foreigners find our country so fascinating! I suppose they see it through a very different lens than we do! The Royal Family, the History, the Countryside, the Architecture, and lastly… the cheap shopping! All these things are a big draw for my Swiss-born other half. Unfortunately, they don’t have a ‘Poundland’, or a ’99p Shop’ in expensive Switzerland. So, armed with a humungous sack of pound coins, off we went…
I won’t bore you with all my holiday anecdotes. There are many, and your time is limited! Suffice to say that my family is an eccentric and affectionate one, so there are never comic story shortages. A few instances that stand out are:
- Seeing an African Momma marching into a French Motel bedecked in full feather-hat regalia, with her poor son following behind, laden down with a zillion suitcases.
- The evilness of a P & O Ferry rocking from side to side, on a particularly windy crossing over to Dover. I was ‘Incredible Hulk’ green that day!
- My dear, sweet, aged mother (known as The Maniac!) walking into a lamp post while crossing a busy road in Bournemouth. No lamp posts were harmed by ‘helmet hair’ that day.
- Hotel windows opening merrily at random, and the young french (??) hotel porter gesticulating that we needed string to close them! If only we had known, we would of course, have brought our own string! *obvs NOT a 4 star hotel then*
- Arranging to meet in Hotel Lobbies; then waiting for ages and beyond, as nobody listens to anybody in my family; and all swore blind that I hadn’t said anything the previous evening! *going to get a dictaphone*
- My mother (again The Maniac!) having arguments with Cafe Manageresses over wasps. Long and embarrassing story.
- My youngest shouting ‘Liar, Liar!!’ at my sister, when she was saying how she gets up earlier than me every day. I think she thought she was defending me! Sweet, but she still got a right royal telling off for that! *of course secretly I applaud her!* 😀
- Finding a lot of dead blue jellyfishes on the beach. Of course, the kids loved this, but I was strangely disturbed by it.
- Visiting Downton Abbey... at last! (real name, Highclere Castle in Newbury.) I have wanted to go for years, and we finally got round to it! It’s well worth a visit, and quite cheap if you just want to visit the gardens, (spectactular!) and take the obligatory selfies in front of the grand house!
I have many other hilarious and touching memories from this year’s visit, but they shall remain between myself, my family, and my dearest friends. Cherished memories that will make me smile with fondness, gigglesnort at their absurdity, and cheer me on when the ocean between us seems too wide to bear.
In the end, family, (& friendilys) mixed and irritating bag that they can be, is all there is; and can be everything that is wonderful!
Next year, however, I’m thinking of Thailand! 😉
Happy nearly-September peeps!
The Hedgehog xx