At the start of October, having been away from home since the start of March, we left Della, our motorhome, safely tucked up just outside Perth and flew home to London for two weeks. (We were hugely grateful to fellow CMCA members participating in their Stopover Scheme for letting us leave Della in their safe hands. If you’re a member looking for a free night’s camping or need to leave your RV for a trip home, do check it out, or even consider participating yourself.)
We’d planned to make this break in our lap since the early stages of our trip – shortly before we’d left home Chris’s eldest son and his wife announced they were expecting their first baby at the end of September so we decided we’d combine a visit to our new grandson with a chance to check in with family and reassure everyone we hadn’t acquired Australian accents or decided to emigrate permanently. As it transpired, it was a timely visit after Karen’s mum had had a couple of recent trips to hospital and was expecting some test results the day after we arrived home. These results could have meant cutting our lap short so it was with mixed feelings that we packed an assortment of luggage and headed to the airport, even though our grandson was slightly late and hadn’t actually arrived yet!
Good news! Theo was born shortly before we boarded the plane to Dubai – we had decided the new non-stop Perth to Heathrow service wasn’t for us – and the hospital test results were all clear. We were able to relax and enjoy catching up with everyone as much as we’d hoped.
While we were in the UK we made a few observations about life there vs our life on the road in Australia …
- It was lovely to see family and friends, and as our house is being rented out for the year we are grateful for all the generous hospitality we were given. But having spent the vast majority of the last seven months in just our own company, it was odd, in a good way, being with others.
- Being apart was also a bit peculiar! Before our trip we were used to being away on trips on our own, for business or whatever, but when Chris set off for a couple of nights with his youngest son when we got back, texting our goodnights was a bit of a novelty.
- Aeroplanes are full of people coughing and sneezing! We hadn’t been in such close contact with people or germs since we arrived and we were both taken a bit by surprise by the hustle and bustle!
- On a similar theme, the traffic in London was overwhelming compared to what we’ve become used to when we’re trundling around in Della. A 12-mile (about 19 km) drive through London suburbs took an hour and a half and we witnessed several near-misses on the roads at other times when we were out and about. Since we’ve lived in a small rural village we’ve noticed this about the traffic, but it seemed more exaggerated this time. We like space!
- Fuel is much cheaper in Australia than in the UK, which might surprise Australian readers. On average we’ve paid $1.62 (90p) per litre of diesel in Oz, but at home people are paying $2.51 (£1.39) per litre.
- Free, fast wifi is readily accessible at home. This is something we’d taken for granted in the few years before our trip and when we arrived in Australia it was a bit of a surprise to find that access to wifi is often the exception rather than the norm. While we were home we were able to connect to networks in restaurants, the doctor’s surgery and on public transport. (We don’t need to be connected all the time, but it’s nice to have the option.)
- There’s a lot less coverage of the royal family on TV in the UK! While we were at home Princess Eugenie got married and the Duchess of Sussex announced her pregnancy. Although the latter made headline news, we could only imagine the coverage of Harry and Meghan’s trip Down Under that we were missing!
- It was great to have unlimited access to a good washing machine! One of the things we didn’t miss about life on the road was the RV park laundries with their overworked machines and ‘COLD WASH ONLY!’ notices.
- We’ve written in previous posts about how little one of us worries about make up, hair dos and well put-together outfits when we’re on the road – the practicalities are far more important. But being back in an environment where we can shower every day without having to wear flip flops and dry ourselves with huge fluffy bath sheets, putting some make up on before going out seemed a necessary step. Old habits die hard!
- Despite our fears, the weather in London was comparable to Perth with clear blue skies and temperatures in the 20s. We’d left our shorts and t-shirts behind but would have had more use for them than our jumpers and jeans most days!
- We take for granted the historical buildings that are all around us when we’re at home and barely even notice them, but we miss that sense of history when we’re in Australia. We definitely paid more attention than we’re used to doing to some beauties during our visit.
- We left a few bits in London that we’ve barely used on the road including a laptop, a pair of white jeans and some make up. There’s a recurring theme here!
It was odd to be staying with friends for a few days when we went home to the village in Wiltshire where we live, rather than be able to be in our own home. A sideways glance at the house as we drove past was all we could do, but it was enough to reassure us that although we’re having a fabulous adventure on our Big Lap, that’s where we’ll be happy to head back to when it’s over.
The last time we’d been in the departures lounge in London it had been with a feeling of trepidation about what lay ahead. This time, knowing our loved ones are well, we felt nothing but excitement about coming back to drive from Perth along the south coast to Sydney before it’s time to head home again.