It’s been a long time, but I gave myself a proper holiday when we went back to the UK for three weeks and I’m not sure I would have had much time to write even if I’d tried. It was a busy time: introducing Matthew to his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins; not to mention catching up with friends. I had worried about how well a three month old baby would cope with the plane and dreaded being the parent with the screaming baby, but he did really well and slept for the majority of the sixteen hour flight – both ways. However, jet lag was another thing altogether and it took nearly a week before he went back to his old sleeping habits once we’d landed. I’m still waiting to get back to normal this end, and hoping that tonight is the night. A 5.30am bedtime after a few hours’ sleep on the plane was not much fun! It was a lot of effort to travel so far, despite Matthew’s model behaviour, and I’m glad we don’t have to travel again for a while. Although it was wonderful to see all of our families and Matthew responded really well to all of the extra attention and new experiences. Being thrust into so many new places and seeing more people than he can ever have imagined existing did him good, I think, and has made me more confident in taking him out here.
Every time we go back to the UK I find myself missing it madly the first week back, then becoming indifferent and by the end of the holiday I always look forward to going back to Brunei. This trip was no exception. For the first few weeks we had beautiful weather and loved taking Matthew for walks whenever we felt like it and even sitting outside in the sun. We went shopping and could find whatever we wanted, ate out plenty (especially enjoying the forbidden foods), and took full advantage of the relatives eager to hold the latest addition to our family. There were baby changing facilities wherever we went and plenty of places accessible to pushchairs.
The second week back the annoyances started to kick in. To begin with, a lot of the people we wanted to see didn’t live that close by and Matthew decided he no longer liked car journeys and would begin screaming the place down without warning. There was a lot of travel to get anywhere and more than enough traffic on the roads to slow the journey down. And that was before we hit any road works… We always notice changes when we come back, and this time it was the aggressive marketing in stores that caught my attention. It is no longer enough to say that you don’t want a store card; if you say no then you will be asked if you are sure repeatedly until you give a reason. Not that much of an annoyance you may think, but when you’re doing a year’s worth of shopping on a time restraint (with a hungry baby waiting) it gets very trying. Eventually I interrupted the sales assistant to tell them I lived abroad as I got bored of repeatedly refusing politely every time I was asked. Likewise, I had little patience when I was interrupted every other mouthful in a restaurant to ask if everything was ok.
By the third week we had all caught a cold and the weather had turned… As I was sitting outside the other evening and eating a meal without interruption, which cost a fraction of what it would in the UK, I thought to myself that it’s not so bad here after all.