Landing in London
After an overnight flight and a couple of hours of snatched sleep, we landed in London. We made the familiar walk from the plane to the baggage reclaim area, where Nick grabbed our bags and his surfboard in the time it took me to quickly visit the ladies- that’s got to be a record. I wish the baggage handlers were that efficient all the time! Gwen and Marco, Nick’s parents, were waiting for us in Arrivals and as we stepped outside the familiar cool, damp air enveloped us. I don’t know if London has a particular smell, but there was a marked absence of the floral and grassy aromas mixed with warm, salty and sultry air we had become accustomed to in the Caribbean. It was quite a wrench sitting in the backseat of the car, seeing London suburbia under grey sky pass by, and thinking of the boat sitting all by herself in the tropical Antiguan sun.
We arrived home and I immediately went upstairs to try and catch up on a bit of sleep. At the point where I slipped into the cool bed and snuggled down under the thick, cozy duvet, I actually sighed aloud in pleasure. It was pure bliss after six months of lying in a starfish position, wearing nothing but a pair of underpants and- sometimes- a singlet top, fan strategically angled for maximum cooling affect.
It took Nick and I quite a few days to get over our jetlag. I’ve decided that flying East is far more difficult than flying West. Because of the time difference, I wasn’t really getting tired enough to sleep until 3am in the morning. It’s quite easy to force yourself to stay up later, but pretty tough to make yourself fall asleep early. Well, it was for me. Somehow, Nick managed just fine, but boys are like that, aren’t they?
Despite our jetlag, we got up the following day and went into London. It was one of those beautiful- and rare- English summer days: warm, sunny and bright blue skies. We wandered around Covent Garden, Soho and Oxford Street in t-shirts and jeans, and bought some new toys: a phone for Nick, a lens and tripod for me, and I even spent an hour in Topshop trying on all the new fashions that I knew nothing about. Apparently loose fitting 3/4 length culottes are back ‘in’ as well as midriff tops. Like, who thinks this stuff up? I’m 5″2 and 3/4 loose fitting trousers make me look like a dwarf; and despite all the sit-ups that I do to endeavour to look decent in my bikinis which I’ve been living in all year, baring my belly in London just isn’t necessary as far as I’m concerned.
We wandered through the streets of London and stopped for a glass of wine at Gordons, some thai calamari at Busaba and marvelled at the fact that a bottle of water, or a small can of hairspray didn’t take up our entire daily budget. It’s not often you’ll hear London described as affordable, but try living in the Caribbean.
That evening we sat in the lounge room watching Pointless (don’t judge) and surfing the internet with super fast wifi. Bliss!
A Quick Visit To Our Previous Life
The following day we drove down to Conyer, where we used to keep our boat. We visited friends and wandered around the marina; almost everyone we passed stopped to chat, and we felt a little overwhelmed at how interested everyone was! Visiting our old berth and seeing another boat in our spot was a sad moment, and when we stopped to catch up with some friends who were about to go out for a sail, we almost- almost- wished we could drop our own mooring lines and join them. Instead we went to the pub.
Dirty Thirties, Here I Come!
I turned 30 the next day and Nick and I woke up to a cold, drizzly day. Ah, this is the London weather we’re used to! Into town we went, umbrella in hand, and celebrated the start of my dirty thirties by wandering around in the rain. We popped into Selfridges, our favourite department store (not that we can afford anything in here anymore!) and it was here that I had my first moment of real reverse culture shock. There were people absolutely everywhere, shoving past each other, unsmiling, dragging shopping bags and pushing strollers, and designer handbags tucked under their arms. This display of consumerism was really overwhelming and I felt quite claustrophobic. More importantly, this world seemed suddenly alien and ugly and I had to remind myself that it wasn’t so very long ago that I loved coming into Selfridges and spending my hard-earned money on stuff I didn’t need. Probably another few weeks in London, and I’d be back, joining the hoards and waving my credit card around…
I couldn’t get out fast enough.
We had an amazing steak at a tapas restaurant in London Bridge called Lobos, who treated us to free cava and a free dessert on account of my birthday. After 6 months of jerk chicken and overpriced salad, this Spanish feast was pure bliss. We then headed to the Globe where we saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a hilarious and modern production which was the absolutely perfect end to the day.