A true British welcome greeted me on my morning arrival back to the glorious motherland. Pouring rain. England knows how to welcome. My first reunion was with my Auntie Jane who’d gotten up ridicoulsy early to trapse out to Heathrow and meet me for the journey back to hers in Balham.

Despite feeling pretty tired from the flights I had a full day of ‘admin’ to do – super dull stuff like banking and the pretty important matter of sorting my visa – which was an incredibly straightforward quick process, if you exclude the fact that I had to travel back to the UK to visit the office. The one big thing that I’d forgotten about London was just how insanely busy it is – it has the entire population of Australia crammed into one city, so getting around – especially during the half term school break – involved getting back the London death stare as you try and get to where you need to be.

I crashed pretty early one that first day with the jet lag catching up with me, waking up feeling fresh and ready for the day at 1am (about 11am Sydney time). The difficulty getting to sleep lasted a couple of days and after that I fairly swiftly destroyed my sleep pattern with late nights out and busy day schedules that I was just sleeping solidly whenever.

My ten days in London was a delight of catch-ups – seeing family and friends for breakfast, brunch, lunch, day drinks, afternoon tea, dinner, drinks – and any other form of consumable catch ups one can imagine. Wandering markets and parks, heading out kite flying with my little cousins, remembering what buildings more than 100 years old look like and heading to the same cocktail bar too often to the point where the barmaid knew my name.. Needless to say my bank balance took a fair hammering, but that’s kind of what it’s there for!

I was very excited to be back for fireworks night and went to a decent show out in Lambeth, even if I did manage to almost end up watching them alone when my plan to easily find people after I’d popped to the toilets (bush) be thwarted by the fact nearly every child had a flashing light saber sword thingy so standing by a kid with one was pretty irrelevant. It was a close call, but luckily I made it back just in time.

On my final weekend in London we had a fairly big re-union night out in central, with many of my close friends. It was great to see everyone, some for the first time since graduation and others the first time since adventures in Australia. My final day in London was probably the nicest weather wise (and I’d somehow dodged a hangover) so heading down to South bank was a delight in the amazingly warm for November in England day.

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Following my ten days in London it was time for my return to the North back up to York. After the busyness of London the comparatively quieter streets as I wandered back to my dad’s new house was very nice. After getting back and catching up with family the next day I headed straight out with college friends to coast – a very different affair to Aus – with warm layers needed for the blustry autumnal day and the closest to swimming we got was touching the sea gingerly. The towns were both semi shut down with it being off-season, but we still managed to get our fish and chips and even got ice-cream so that we could say we’d done the beach properly.

More lunches, drinks and dinners out followed and the comparison in my friend’s apartment up North with the London ones was insane – one even had a spare guest bedroom. I went away with my dad over my weekend up North to Ambleside in the Lake District. Despite getting drenched beyond belief and having to turn back on our first morning hike the weather following was pretty decent. The Lake District was looking absolutely spectacular with the hills covered in darks reds and oranges of autumn and the moody weather conditions painting some pretty spectacular views over the lakes. We managed to get in three more good walks whilst there ranging from the easy meander around the lake in the afternoon after we had got drenched to our long full day walk across a couple of the peaks and ridges. Ambleside was really busy whilst we were there, with it being their big Christmas market, so the town was always busteling. We managed to always get a table in pubs, even if on the Saturday we had to wander for a while, but the Italian food and ‘world-jazz’ music on the Friday evening after seeing The Imitation Game definitely was the culinary highlight even if the waiters needed a fair few lessons in service..

My final few days in York were interrupted slightly by a bit of food poisoning which sucked, but I battled on with catching up with people just downgrading lunches to coffees as I didn’t want to risk having to run to the bathroom to throw up. I went out in York with my college friends on the final night and I have to say we definitely felt pretty old when heading to return to the bars we used to go. Walking in everyone around looked about 12 with probably no one else over 10 and a majority under 18. We left without ordering, the semi-realisation that we need new bars!

I came back to London yesterday as my flight out today meant checking in pretty early. This also meant that I managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the national history museum’s ice rink then head out to winter wonderland – which has definitely grown since I last visited two years ago. It seems to take up the majority of Hyde Park now with countless stalls, rides, activities and bars. We found a nice bar out in one corner that had a very European ski resort feel and decent jazz quintet so ended up staying much later than I had planned.

This morning I was up super early to walk through the drizzle to catch the bus to the tube to get me to Heathrow. I’d assumed it was a three hour check in as I was flying long-haul, but as my first flight is just to Helsinki I’ve had to spend an hour waiting by the check in desks, with the extra hour I could have been sleeping in bed playing heavily on my mind.

Excited to get into the air and out to Japan. I’ll arrive tomorrow lunchtime then have to figure out the two trains to get me out to the ski resort where the company I’m going to be working for will come and collect me. That will be the first adventure and then I’ll need to head straight out the next day to buy loads of new ski gear as apparently the snow is already falling!

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