There have been times this year, fleeting moments, when my homing instinct kicks in.
A particularly cold snap in the weather that makes you inhale sharply. A low granite grey overcast sky in the morning. Soft green grass that I can run my hands through. Watching Doc Martin on TV and hearing familiar tones and lilts in the characters voices. Eating custard cream biscuits.
I see or hear or smell or taste things that instantly transport me home, just for a second. And it makes smile and I am happy.
I might have said it before, but my homing instinct is so strong that I honestly think you could pick me up and transport me anywhere in the world and I would be able to immediately tell you whether I was in my home country or not without even glancing around. Home just has a feel to it. One that is so overwhelming that it practically drops me to my knees when I arrive back on home soil, I have to close my eyes and just breathe deep, and a shroud of calm just descends on my shoulders, blanketing me in comfort.
It really is such a remarkable feeling and one that gets stronger the longer I am away.
I wrote a previous blog about my last trip home in January and a lot of the words from that time still ring true for me. It seems that I return home, in part, as an escape and recovery from the world I am currently living in. Whereas my last trip was fleeting, a mere two weeks, this time I spent a month and a half back in Blighty – a fine spell in which to not only recuperate, but to celebrate also.
And I have decided rather than write endlessly about my adventures at home, I wanted to just briefly say a few words and then let some photographs I took while I was there, speak for me.
My words therefore are these…
My friends and family still remain the most important things in my life. I am nothing without the people that stand next to, and behind, me.
I don’t know how I managed to get so lucky to find them, but I still can’t believe that I can simply text my best friend to say, “Change of plan buddy, rather than see you in two weeks, I’ll be there in two days.” To be replied with “No worries, just get on the plane and we’ll see you then, can’t wait.”
To descend on the home of my soon to be married friend, AJ, and her fiancé, Rob, and to be able to just pop my feet under the table and be made to feel like this is where I’ve always lived. A place of welcoming, of comfort, of love and support.
The familiar countryside of England is magical to me. I think my homeland is breathtakingly beautiful and it is easy to forget this when you are ensconced in daily life and might forget to look up and take notice. I was lucky enough to be able to ‘road trip’ north into Scotland during my stay, where once again I was welcomed by another close friend who had a “Stay as long as you like” message for me. I took the time to enjoy the scenery I have missed and revelled in the pleasures of a simple country walk, which I used to take all the time at home.
But probably the most remarkable experience I enjoyed was simply being a bystander in AJ and Rob’s life. To be able to view my best friend’s world in, I hope, an unobtrusive way. To have the opportunity that few other people have, to watch someone else’s life in minute detail and learn from it something about both them and yourself.
I watched every evening as AJ faithfully made dinner for them both, while at the same time packing a work lunch for Rob for the following day. I saw them return from food shopping with AJ clutching a new bunch of flowers each week, for they brighten the house and make her happy. I observed them sitting companionably together in the evenings watching quiz shows and talking about the presenters or the topics that came up. I noticed how Rob would sometimes just siddle up and give AJ a cuddle when he felt like it.
I watched two people who were, very quietly and simply, in love. So very well suited. And whom I had the pleasure and honour of watching get married to each other. Twice. On the same day.
And while I really know nothing about weddings, having only been present at three in my whole life, this one seemed really quite perfect. I’m hoping AJ and Rob enjoyed themselves, because I certainly did, from start to finish. From the intimate registry office ceremony in the morning, to the hair appointment and subsequent make up session, and the fitting of the dress; everything in my mind went off without a hitch. I thought their personal vows at the friends and family ceremony were perfect – promises of no more cats without permission, came from AJ and Rob’s declaration to not leave his shoes in the doorway anymore. I think their vows reflected perfectly their knowledge of each other.
And then the party! Food and music and ice cream! Oh, and the dancing of course – the choreographed dancing by AJ, Chrissy, Ed and myself to Michael Jackson’s Beat It.
It was just all rather wonderful.
And with all of that said, it’s now time for photos, for after all, a picture says a thousand words…