While growing up in Manchester, Cornwall was always a family favourite for summer holidays, and I spent many a weekend camping in the Lake District as a Girl Guide, so it’s fair to say that I’ve seen my fair share of the southern coast and green hills.
However, it wasn’t until I was 17 in 2007 that I finally visited London. I went with friends from college and we had a brilliant time being ‘those’ tourists. There’s something great about seeing a landmark like the Big Ben on TV and then seeing it up close. We got lost on the tube; took a ride on the Eye, visited the Tower of London, wandered around Trafalgar Square, looked up in awe at Buckingham Palace, and toured around the Aquarium. I remember feeling stupidly happy that I was able to do all this before leaving England so that I wouldn’t have to carry the shame of never having visited my home country’s capital city.
After my move to Australia, it wasn’t long before I was back. Eighteen months later I landed back in Manchester for a three-week summer filled with BBQ’s, dancing and binge drinking. Subsequently, I once again ended up in tears at the airport as I desperately struggled with missing the place before I even left, and the indefinite nature of when my next visit will be.
I need not have worried though as a year later, I flew into Heathrow Airport to begin my European 2010 adventure. Jet lag recuperation based me in Clapham with my Aussie travel buddy Jess as she was currently living there. The Henley Races took place that weekend so we trekked our way across London to the River Thames which turned out to be a beautiful sunny day, drinking Pimms! I sorely missed living in the UK at this point as there’s something unique and likeable about the British drinking culture which is hard to recreate anywhere else.
By 2011/2012 I had settled into a comfortable way of life in Australia, yet I always felt as if I was drifting along, waiting for the right time until I could move back ‘home’. So, after another two years away, I figured that I was long overdue a trip back. Six months of hard saving later, I was able to visit over the 2012 Christmas period. Normally, I go during the summer so I was quite excited to experience the fresh coldness and to wear winter fashion again. Unsurprisingly, this novelty quickly wore off. It was great seeing my brothers and friends though, and to familiarise myself with places I grew up in. I also got to meet my adorable nephew Louis and to share his Christening day which I’m so glad I was a part of.
As Joe is from London (yes, I moved 10,000 miles to meet a British boy), it was nice to spend time with his family in Bromley as I sometimes find it hard to justify Stockport as a holiday destination. From here, I was able to educate myself at the National History Museum, live a lifelong dream at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, and shop until I was broke on Oxford Street.
We also managed to squeeze in Edinburgh over New Year’s Eve for the Hogmanay street party which would have been amazing if I wasn’t ridiculously ill – I knew my immune system would take a battering at some point! Nonetheless, the fireworks were fantastic and the following day we explored the city as best as we could in my condition. Edinburgh is exactly how I imagined it would be, and a beautiful city I hope to return to one day.
As much as I thoroughly enjoyed my visit, this time was different. I traded in my rose-tinted glasses for a taste of reality. The summer fun was over and everyone was in full-time jobs, so it became easier for me to see a future for myself in Australia. To be honest, I finally realised that I had to cut pointless strings that were tying me back to England as they were stopping me from moving forward. For the first time, I found myself looking forward to going to back to Brisbane with no false pretences, and actually appreciating my new life.