Well...we've been back in the UK for nine days now, although the first day doesn't really count because I was only half-conscious after the Flight from Hell with the Flight Attendants from Hell. It was not a one-way trip we'd ever planned on taking, unfortunately, my former employers, easily baffled by bullshit, chose to let me go. Having read recent articles in the local paper, I suspect they let the wrong people go, but that's for another blog, when or if I ever get over my anger at such misguided stupidity among management and certain council members.
I'll just say this. If a certain supermarket on the south end of that town ever caught fire, I'd not pee on it to put it out.
That's enough of that.
I knew, when I returned to England, that I'd appreciate the little things I'd taken for granted before. So, indulge me while I list them:
1. The constantly changing sky - after years of relentless, cloudless blue skies, it's a real treat just to sit in the back garden and watch the clouds. Sometimes they're leaden, grey and heavy with rain. At other times, they're thin wisps of white horsetails stretched out across a silvery evening sky. On warm, muggy afternoons, the puffy cumulus idle across the sky, threatening to darken and bring rain. Now, the sky is something to gaze at and appreciate because, like snowflakes, no one day is ever the same.
2. Rain - There's nothing more pleasurable than standing outside in a gentle rain listening to the drops whisper on the leaves and the lawn. They're tiny, cool kisses on a skin parched by eight years of desert heat.
3. Grass - standing on the cool, soft grass in my bare feet is absolute bliss.
4. The countryside - We're in central Berkshire at the moment. The landscape is a mosaic of gently rolling fields, hemmed by ancient hedgerows and trees. The wheat fields are beginning to turn to a soft gold as the crops ripen after an unusually dry and warm summer. The horse chestnut trees are growing heavy with conkers, which will drop in the autumn revealing gleaming mahogany seeds bursting from spiky pods. Then, there's the country lanes transformed into shady green tunnels by the trees growing over them. The grass verges are alive with flowers, Queen Anne's lace and others.
5. Driving a car with a manual transmission - I had a bit of a rough introduction because the rental place is in the middle of a busy town and I had to remember, very quickly, how to navigate a roundabout, while struggling to recall how to drive with a gear shift, without stalling in the middle of said roundabout. Now that I've got the hang of it once more, it's great fun, even on the winding, narrow country lanes. I have to say, the price of petrol is a bit of a fright, so for all of my American friends reading this, three bucks a gallon really isn't anything to whine about so...don't.
6. Pie and chips - yeah, all right, so the local chippy is run by Greeks, but they've nailed the art of frying potatoes. The Daddie's sauce is just the perfect finishing touch.
7. BBC One. Oh how I missed thee. The highlight of the viewing week is 'Sherlock Holmes', a modern reworking of the old stories. Beautifully written, clever plots and a wonderfully quirky Sherlock. Then, there's the news...no carefully groomed, plastic newsreaders, just proper journalists doing their jobs and doing it well.
I could go on and on. I know it's not paradise and I know if it wasn't for the incredible kindness and generosity of friends, it could be really tough, but when all is said and done, it's good to be back.
Stay tuned for more!