Day 338: Home Again

Thur. 18th July 2013

Deja vu!Its hard to describe how I feel – other than a bit groggy after having woken up on the plane. The SkyMap display on the screen in front of my seat says that we are currently over Paris and rapidly approaching the UK. I have very mixed emotions about heading home after 11 months of travelling. We have literally had the trip of a lifetime. We’ve seen some incredible places, met some wonderful people and it has been everything that we hoped it would be when we started putting our plans together.

Now we have to re-enter the real world. We’re going to have to sort out our house and buy some cars (we sold our old cars before we left home) and we’re (both) going to have to start working again. On the other hand, we are looking forward to catching up with family and friends once again; we won’t need to be unpacking and repacking our backpack every day; and we’ll even get access to more than 7 pairs of pants!

The last one of these we'll see for a whileOur plane lands a little early and we get through immigration and baggage collection quickly. Within 30 minutes of the plane touching down we are standing in in the arrivals concourse in Heathrow thinking that it all looks very familiar. Normally (in the olden days before our trip) when we arrive in Heathrow we head off to collect our car from valet parking and we’d be driving home by now. But that was then and even if we had a car, we don’t travel like that any more. Instead, we find the National Express office to buy tickets for the bus to Reading and then the train to Didcot.

We don’t have long to wait for the coach and, even better, there is free WiFi on board and so we can catch up with the world. We’re touched by all the comments on a Facebook photo that we posted whilst waiting to board our plane in the airport lounge in Nairobi – we now have some great friends spread all over the world. Its all so quick and easy that we end up having a problem we weren’t expecting – we’re going to get to Didcot before the estate agent opens and we can collect our house keys.

Africafe - Just say no!Still, we aren’t in a hurry and it’s a good excuse to stop in Reading and have a Starbucks. Ah, luxury after all of that Africafe (sub-Nescafe instant) coffee. There has been some major refurbishment of Reading station whilst we were away but the sense of deja vu is back big time as our train pulls in to Didcot. Even more spookily, standing on the platform waiting for a train to London is our friend John. We just have time for him to pick his jaw up off the ground and have a very brief chat before his train pulls in. And so we have the first of our “hellos” sooner even than we were expecting.

True to our new independent travel philosophy we walk up into town from the station to the estate agents – and we’re still there before they open. Fortunately we don’t have too long to wait. Everyone is curious about our travels and so we spend a little while chatting with the staff before picking up our keys and accepting the offer of a lift back to our house.

And then we’re home. It is all so familiar. So little has changed it’s like we’ve never been away. Except that the house is empty and we don’t get our belongings out of storage for another 48 hours. Fortunately, we packed some essentials (like our kettle) in a locked section of the roof space. For so long, we have put off thinking about what we’ll do when we get home and now we can’t put it off any longer. How long will it be before we get swallowed up by the old routines? How will we cope with being home? Where and when will we go next?

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