“The loneliness of the expatriate is of an odd and complicated kind, for it is inseparable from the feeling of being free, of having escaped.” – Adam Gopnik (Paris to the Moon)*
*Thank you to fellow blogger Reannon and her blog “Taken by the Wind” for this and other great quotes about living abroad.
I am so far behind with updating all of you on my life here that sometimes I get discouraged and avoid writing. I am determined to use some of my time off this month to get caught up. My first two days of September were spent in Barrington and Cambridge, so the month was off to a good start. But it was to be a crazy month! There were a ton of complications getting my criminal record check so I could get clearance to teach in the UK. This is where I must acknowledge that moving abroad is not all excitement and romance and adventure. This was a stress that dominated a lot of August and September, to the point where I actually ended up going back to Canada to get the paperwork (which turned out to be essential as it actually wouldn’t have worked to pay the crazy fees for couriering documents via a notary).
Long story short: the trip to Canada was an exhausting whirlwind; I was tired by 8 o’clock every day. But there were upsides: I saw all of my nieces and nephews (except Terry who was in school, and I really missed getting to see him). I literally got off the ferry as one of my dearest friends had given birth in Victoria, so I was able to go straight to the hospital and meet her son at just 2 hours old. I wasn’t expecting to get to meet him until he was at least a year old, so it was such a blessing. And getting some quick visits in with my family and a couple of friends was really nice; it was just hard knowing I wouldn’t have time to see everyone. If you didn’t hear from me- I’m sorry, but I had to do what was healthiest for me, which meant focusing on my family and not much else. Hence my quote for this post… I often get homesick, especially when I think of my nieces and nephews and how quickly they are changing in my absence, and yet I am aware of the blessings I have here: of having new experiences all the time, and such choice with how I spend my time without yet working full time or having family and social commitments. It’s a unique thing to be so “free” and to miss it all at the same time.
The chaos was to continue. I left Canada on Monday the 12th, arrived back in the UK midday on Tuesday the 13th, and then had my first day of teaching in the UK on Wednesday the 14th. To say I was feeling the jet lag would be a tremendous understatement. It was my third time dealing with an 8 hour time change in less than two months, and this time it took a couple of weeks to feel normal again. But that didn’t stop me from exploring and enjoying the two weeks of September that I spent in England!
(Left: Good thing they don’t weigh carry on luggage. Mine coming back to London was almost as heavy as my checked bag! It was a chance to bring back Kraft peanut butter and a few Canadian favourites. Right: coming home from my very first day of work in England!)
My first weekend home, the weather was beautiful. I met Troy and his friend for drinks on Friday night, where we sat outside in a courtyard with a view of the Shard and the moon above us. Then Troy took me for an amazing dinner at Tas, a fantastic Turkish restaurant with the creamiest hummus I have ever tasted. There was an fabulously talented guitar player for accompaniment to our meal, and we took full advantage with a bit of dancing beside our table. As we had gone in so close to closing time, the restaurant was quiet and it felt almost as though we had booked the restaurant for just the two of us. It was our first proper romantic dinner date since moving here, and it was a lovely experience. We took it easy on Saturday so we were well rested for visiting the Natural History Museum on Sunday with Troy’s cousin (who had just moved here- also a teacher) and then a quick wander to the edge of Hyde park.
The following week included, for me:
1. a job interview for a second agency (was offered a job on the spot. 2 for 2!)
2. a return to the Guildhall Gallery (home of a beautiful Dante Gabriel Rossetti painting, and the Roman amphitheatre, which I had no clue existed)
3. Walking through the city and enjoying seeing ruins amongst the modern city. It’s a very cool thing about London.
4. Visiting the Museum of London where I saw a GORGEOUS collection of vintage textiles. If I weren’t honest and thought there was a hope of getting away with it, I confess that I would have fully taken the two dresses in the pictures below. The silk. The beads. I have no adequate words.
5. Celebrating the 368th anniversary of tea in England with a visit to the Twinings shop on Strand
6. A walk through the Royal Courts of Justice. You can’t take photos inside which is a shame as it’s a beautiful building, but the elaborate doors give some sense of its grandeur.
I definitely recommend reading about La Ghirlandata. Dante Gabriel Rossetti is my favourite 19th century artist, and when I see his work I think of his sister, Christina Rossetti. She was an incredibly talented poet (Goblin Market remains my favourite narrative poem) and I studied her work in the course of completing my first degree. I could talk about poetry and art and the Victorian era and pre-Raphaelites for ages but you’re probably here to read about my adventures so I’ll move on 😉
Suddenly it was the weekend again! At this time, Troy had yet to see the amazing Painted Hall, so we returned to Greenwich with some snacks. This time, we were able to check out the Greenwich Market which was home to some beautiful art, stunning wool capes, and food carts (fyi: the tiny pancakes were scrumptious, but the sausage roll that Troy had was apparently not). I was glad for Troy to get to see the chapel and painted hall, as they had totally taken my breath away, and we made the most of the weather enjoying our snacks on the lawn in front of the Queen’s house (still on our to-see list) and the Maritime Museum.
September ended with a three day work week (woohoo!) and a bowling social with the new agency. Friday night bowling with a whole bunch of teachers, some prosecco (a favourite here), and the bosses paying for everything: that’s a good way to end a month!