I've been back in the UK for a week now. It feels like I've been here longer than that - and also like I haven't been away from here for that long (I was last here in February). That's the funny, and I guess reassuring, thing about feeling like you are at home in a few different places. Although it's sad that I don't feel that novelty of a new place when I come here anymore - that feeling of wonder and discovery - it does help with the homesickness. If only Curriecat was more amenable to travel, I'd be set.
I'm spending the first few weeks of my stay in Southampton, where my company has an office. I'm staying in our company flat, which is perched above our offices on a quay in the middle of the port, literally in the ferry terminal where you can catch a boat to the Isle of Wight. I can hear ferry safety announcements from my bed, and have glanced up a few times while in the living room to see a very large cruise ship sail perilously close to my window. I've been up to London a few times, both for work and for pleasure, but have largely been spending time getting to know new co-workers and exploring Southampton. I thought I'd give a little update on what I got up to this week:
This is a funny little monument I found in Southampton's High Street dedicated to some citizens who fought a fire in a local church. Typically Victorian - desperately in need of an editor to cut out a few adjectives.
This is the monument. The clock tower has a funny little cuckoo clock kind of apparatus, where two little male figures appear and beat a bell on the hour.
Sunset from my balcony. Southampton is a working port, with huge shipping vessels as well as cruise ships and ferries to the Isle of Wight passing by regularly.
The Titanic sailed from Southampton. There is a museum on the subject that I have yet to visit, but on one of my nightly strolls I found this monument to the Titanic's engineers.
I'll be going up to London once a week or so while I'm in Southampton. This past week I took my boss (also visiting) to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese in Fleet Street - the oldest pub in London and still an OK place to grab a pint.
I've been doing a lot of walking, because the weather has been uncommonly nice in England, and well - you make the most of that while you can. On Tuesday I went to London and got home to the quay quite late - looked like my neighbour (Red Funnel Ferries) took my parking spot for the night. Good thing I walked.
I found this hilarious graffiti in the women's toilets in a pub in London. It made me giggle.
I told you I was walking a lot. My FitBit scores have been through the roof.
East Park in Southampton. Right in the centre of town, and a nice place for a walk after work.
Our office here allows dogs to come to work. This is Chalky, who I babysat on Thursday. He lost a tooth (baby tooth!) on my watch!
He's no Curriecat but he'll certainly do. What a handsome and cuddly guy.
On Friday I had the pleasure of attending a dear colleague's wedding in Birdham, near Chichester, in Sussex. An English church wedding means fascinators/hats required. Here's me, my boss Ben and his wife Jana waiting for the ceremony to begin. Jana and I's fascinators are suspiciously similar...
St. James' Parish in Birdham. Just what we foreigners imagine an English country parish to look like.
The Bride and Groom's getaway car.
A lovely country parish. I didn't have a chance to walk around the little cemetery outside to see how old some of the burials were. The church was restored in the 1860s so I suspect most of them date from after that time period.
Parts of this tower were built in 1545.
A reception followed at a converted barn, which had great indoor and outdoor space, so guests could dance inside, or relax outside and get some air. I danced. A lot.
My ridiculously good looking (and delightful) pals, the bride and groom. They threw an amazing party.
No travels ever seem complete without catching up with Pearson College folk. Here's (from left) Dorota, Mike, and Gavin, some 17 years after we met, along with Gavin's wife Sanya and his sister Kimberly. We caught up for a very leisurely lunch in St. Christopher's Place in London on Saturday.
I *think* I've kicked the jet lag now.
The weather has been amazing so far. This is England people! Look at that blue sky (taken in Trafalgar Square, Saturday evening)!
I love me some movies, and I happened upon this great little cinema in Ocean Village in Southampton. I've been twice so far - to see Richard Linklater's
worth the hype), and
Guardians of the Galaxy (
not so much).
Any cinema where you can wait outside on the patio overlooking the ocean while enjoying a cider is just A-OK in my books. In fact, I paid to become a member of the cinema, which entitles me to free tickets and discounts on popcorn, that kind of thing.
So, that just about wraps up my first week here in England. There was quite a bit of actual work thrown into the mix as well, and today was a leisurely day of strolls around the neighbourhood and a late-night solo dance party for one. The week hasn't been without its tribulations - the travel from Heathrow to Southampton after a red-eye flight nearly killed me (a train, then a train and train and a taxi, with a few detours just for fun), and a train cancellation last Sunday meant I missed my friend Alex's sold out show in London - but it really wouldn't be England without those weird hiccups, would it?