When you are a constant nomad where do you call home?
This question has been on our minds this past week and a half as we returned to the UK but to be honest such philosophical thoughts took took second place to having a great time with family and friends.
There was lots of eating, including my Mum cooking us a “Christmas” dinner (yes I know it’s May) complete with turkey, stuffing, mince pies and Christmas pudding. She knows the best way to Steve, my brothers and nephew’s hearts is through their stomachs.
We fitted in 2 curries, 2 fish and chips, 3 roast dinners, baked beans and lashings of marmite…..all the things we’ve been missing.
We timed it right to catch up with my brother and his family for Sunday lunch on his birthday.
We hardly saw the girls as they caught up on girlie times with sleepovers with both our sisters. They ended up with a much needed whole new wardrobe thanks to Steve’s sister and his family. They spent days and nights with my sister building fairy houses in the wood, making cuddly toys, having tea parties and generally having a magical time.
The bluebells were out for a wonderful walk with Clare, my sister. We went to our beloved New Forest and walked whenever we could in the forest just a few hundred metres from my Mum’s house. It was wonderful to have a proper talk with my Mum and Clare, FaceTime is great but not a proper replacement for actually seeing them. We also went to Wilton House so the girls could see an English country house, after studying English history. It also brought back lovely memories, as it was where Steve and I had our wedding reception nearly 14 years ago.
Unfortunately we didn’t have enough time to see many friends but we did manage a few local ones. We also met for the first time with fellow travellers and Bocklet truck owners: Marcus and Julie (www.tuckstruck.net) who we’ve been communicating with by email for the last couple of years. They’ve just completed a year in Africa and are heading to South America, serendipitously they were back visiting his parent’s just 10 miles from my Mum’s house. It was a little bit like a blind date when Steve and I walked into the pub having never met in person. We were so busy chatting and exchanging information that lunch turned to dinner and we eventually left 9 1/2 hours later, we didn’t even drink as we were driving.
It has been great for all of us to get a bit of space from each other, as you can imagine living together 24/7 in a small space is very stressful at times. The girls went off separately with my Auntie Clare and had special time with Grannie, while Steve and I went our own ways for somethings.
For South Africa we needed the girl’s original birth certificates which were stored somewhere in the garage at our cottage in the New Forest. The house is rented out long term so we didn’t see inside. We bought the place about 5 years ago when we lived in Prague to rent out and for us to use during the holidays. It was a an emotional purchase for me, I had always wanted a place in the New Forest close to our families and especially when we lived in Moscow I felt we needed somewhere for the girls and I to call “home”. A 17th century thatched cottage, maybe was not the most practical choice but I love the place. It was interesting to see after nearly 2 years away I felt quite different, it still is very special but I wasn’t as emotionally attached as I thought I would be.
All the while we were still waiting to have confirmation that the truck was actually aboard the boat to South Africa, not still sat at the port outside Beunos Aires. At last we got the email but there was a possible, exciting complication for Steve. He is a passionate Middlesborough supporter along with his family and most of his UK friends. The team had a chance to be promoted to the Premier league if they won a play off game on Monday, the day we were planning to fly out. All plans were on hold until the semi final play off game finished. Once Middlesbrough were in the final we quickly booked a flight that allowed Steve to go to the game and make it to Durban just in time. Steve then spent 3 hours in an online queue to get tickets. He was ecstatic that he was going to see them play, he was taking Nic his nephew and was going to catch up with all his old friends at once. I was really pleased for him, it’s not often Middlesborough get to Wembley.
We had a great night catching up with some of Steve’s oldest friends in London, the next morning the true fans set off to Wembley.
The girls and I used the time to do a quick sightseeing bus and river tour to London to finish off their “History of London” homeschooling topic that they have been doing for the last few months. It is amazing that having been to so many capital cities around the world they have never been to London. Apart from the sight seeing, they were sweetly excited to see black cabs and red double-decker buses. Alisha checked every red post box carefully for the monarch initials she was so thrilled to see one from George VII and Queen Victoria’s reign.
We still are not at all sure where we’ll settle at the end of this life changing trip. The girls, having been born but never lived in the UK see it as the “mother country”. A place of loving relations, interesting history and where they can make themselves easily understood. For Steve and I after nearly 2 decades as expats, where do we feel most is “home”? Good question! At the moment the answer for us all is definitely “the truck”.