“Home is the place where you are most thoroughly yourself, with no pretenses”. – V Moran
In total I spent just shy of 6 weeks (41days) back in the UK. I was welcomed back with incredible warmth and generosity. To say it was an amazing visit would be a huge understatement . I am fortunate to have incredible friends who fed and housed me; lent me a car; made special plans to entertain me but most importantly provided emotional support whilst I transitioned from being part of a couple (the better part obviously) to singledom.
This is the ground I covered and what follows is a photo diary of my epic visit.
London – with Kate, Brett and Pip.
An opportunity to sort out my passport and visas but also to meet Pip, Brett and Kate’s 7 month cocker spaniel. Don’t be fooled by how ordinary she looks because she’s probably the most gifted dog on the planet and any bad behaviour is only due to boredom and mental torpor. She really needs full time tutoring to reach her full potential. I was offered the job but really felt I couldn’t provide the intellectual stimulus she needed. (I’m obviously not fit for the job because I believe I should have said “stimulii”).
A Brutal run for Brett in Bordon, Hampshire. I saw some old faces from my orienteering days – Liz and Colin Dickson , Colin Holcombe and Dave Rollins. It was a lovely day, although the course appeared to be a little muddy, and Kate and I enjoyed walking Pip and watching the action. I haven’t been to Bordon in over 5 years and was shocked to see the Garrison no longer exists. Instead it’s a huge, brand new housing estate. New housing estates and extensive new building projects was a theme I saw repeated numerous times over of visit.
Two short visits to see my Mum and Dad. They’re both getting on a bit and my poor mum suffers from macular degeneration and requires eye injections every 6 weeks . Unfortunately she’d had injections the day before these photos so her eyes were very sore. They both suffer from various ailments but all things considered they’re doing incredibly well for their age. Hopefully I’ve inherited those genes!
Torquay with Mandy and Alex.
Since I last saw them Mandy has had 2 boys, Kaio and Rocco. It was great to meet the little fellas and expand my baby experiences. Mandy let me change Rocco’s nappy, I think she was a bit shocked that I wanted to. So that was probably only the second nappy I’ve ever changed, does that make me an expert? Aren’t they just the cutest?
A week with Debs and Larry in Cupar. This was our girlie day out in Edinburgh with Jolanda, Jac, Debbie and Eve. We went to see the most incredible show, Joseph , with Jaymi Hensley (from boyband Union) as lead. He was brilliant. I also got to see Eve’s halls of residence . I couldn’t include a photo (too shocking) but remember Life of Grime with John Peel and you should have the right mental picture!
There was time for some dog walks; beautiful scenery and an opportunity to meet Frankie. Sadly he’s not as gifted as Pip but he’s a close second. And a family gathering with both Eve and Leah taking time from their busy schedules to come home. Whilst Eve has just started at university, Leah is just about to graduate . Last time I was in Scotland I helped her move into her halls of residence in Dundee. Doesn’t time fly and actually it’s a bit of a shocker; four years at university has turned her from child to adult.
Time with Jac. Gosh we did so much. She came to Wales and Scotland with me. We did a stopover to see my wonderful cousin Ann, in Caernarfon (sorry no photos). We had a day out in Southampton with Fiona and Ali. And just before I left we had a special celebration for her 50th birthday.
Andover – time with Vik who is planning her own great adventure.
Mike and Sorcha. An Irish couple I first met in Osh, Kyrgyzstan and then again in India. It was great to catch up with them although I’m not sure why we’ve all been Tangoed.
St Andrews and a meeting of serendipity. Katrina (who I first met in Afghanistan) lives in Glasgow but I passed her on the streets of St Andrews and we had coffee and a catch-up.
I didn’t think it would happen but I was very fortunate to see Chris.
And there were other great moments that Sadly I failed to capture on film but that were equally rewarding. Jac and George, Andrea and Louise, Deborah and John , Ann my cousin, Karen Baker, Marion, Kasia, Gav and my brother Meirion. It was a very busy and emotional few weeks. Coming home made me realise how lucky I am to have such great and supportive friends and family. I’m sure I wouldn’t be so resolute and excited about my future plans if I hadn’t spent this quality time back home. Thank you all. I also had the time to research and buy the extra gear I need for my solo cycling adventure.
And now to the plan. A look forward to titillate your imagination:
1. Trans Siberian railway from Moscow to Ulan Ude. (4500km). Ulan Ude to Ulaanbaatar and Ulaanbaatar to Bejing.
2. Ferry from Bejing to South Korea to fetch my trike and return to China. Cycle China, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
3. Return to Mongolia to see its beauty in the summer and tour some of its highlights on a motorbike.
Now that I’ve written it down I’m committed!
And the postscript to this post is my visit to Plovdiv, Bulgaria the to see my brother Gwyn. Plovdiv is the Cultural Capital of 2019. It’s definitely worth a visit and I know a great Airbnb host if you want to go.