Yes, I am in the UK, but a little behind on my blog posting!
The wheels bounced as the plane touched down. Looking out of the window I craned my neck and saw the familiar slate grey skies of England. What did I feel? Relief? Apprehension? A little of both. Not for England, but how would I get on with my family and friends some of whom I hadn’t seen for 10 years?
Disembarking from the plane, I joined the hordes of passengers shuffling towards Passport Control. Three silver cameras suspended from the ceiling, rotating continually scanning the queue. A woman next to me said. “They watch us all the time here.”
An interesting fact. Did you know that there are over 2.5 million CCTV cameras in the UK?
The queue inched forward, thirty minutes later I scanned my E passport and entered the UK. In Auckland I’ve never encountered a queue! It took another 20 minutes to locate my bag, and then out into the packed arrivals hall. I heard my sister in law shout my name and tears came. I felt overwhelmed and so pleased to see my brother and his wife. We battled our way through the crowds to the carpark and I shivered in my summer clothes waiting for the lift. The temperature had reached 10 degrees, and I had left a humid 35.
My brother drove me to his house in Brighton. As we sped down the motorway It all felt slightly unreal but I reminded myself I hadn’t slept for over 24 hours. I gazed at the vibrant green fields and the trees. Over the last few years I thought I’d never see England again, and yet, here I was in the land of my birth.
My niece arrived after she finished work. The last time I’d seen her, she was at was at university and quite shy. Ten years later she has gained two university degrees, travelled, built a successful career, bought her own apartment and turned into an amazing woman.
The next day my niece drove me into Brighton. The centre was packed with people shopping and having lunch. Think Eden Park when the All Blacks are playing! The grey clouds parted for an hour and we ate lunch outside a veggie restaurant in the sun.
Brighton had changed. In my youth, the town didn’t have a good reputation. Rival gangs used to congregate there on public holidays and it wasn’t a safe place to walk after dark. Now It’s transformed, and become a popular place for the LGBT community to live. It has interesting shops tucked away down the Lanes. There was even a veggie shoe store! I didn’t have time to browse but will go and have a look. Onto Churchill Square with an abundance of clothing stores, and I dived into Marks and Spencer’s. Apparently, it’s not so popular with the Brits, but I enjoyed spending an hour wandering around. The range of clothing and the quality I thought excellent compared to Farmers in NZ.
The roaming charges for cell phones in NZ are exorbitant. My niece had a great idea, she’d add me to her plan and I could benefit by getting a deal. For 19 pounds a month, NZ$36, I have unlimited texting and phones calls in the UK and Europe, and 12gb of data! What an awesome deal! Vodafone NZ please take note!
Next on the agenda was a drive to Beachy Head. As we climbed out of the car, a freezing wind whipped around us and we hurried into the National Trust Café and had lunch. Thank goodness, I had brought marino pullovers and my puffer jacket, although I hadn’t bargained on wearing them until the northern hemisphere’s winter (November).
Coastal erosion has claimed two of the six cottages which used to sit on the cliff top. I bought a stunning postcard of a river meandering through meadows. We drove and found the exact place where the photo had been taken. We continued our tiki tour through the beautiful South Down National Park which runs across the Sussex Downs.
Back to my brother’s house for a home cooked meal and an evening watching English TV!
Next week’s blog – Property prices and Brexit! Plus, the Brighton Pavilion and Mamma Mia!
Pavilion in Brighton built by George. Restored. Interesting I love English history. Then the I20. A slow ascent above Brighton. London.
Traffic. Saltdean parking on double yellow lines. No horns beeping, considerate drivers, huge carparks, like Albany but for one grocery store or a mega Marks and Spencers. Why I’m not driving. See if I can manage for a year without driving. Living out of a bag with few possessions. Lots of people.
Shopping. Choices and more choices!
Brexit and property prices.
What’s it like to live in Brighton?
(Housing, social life, cost of living). Probably not a great place if you’re single straight woman over 30.