It’s been a week since we arrived back home having spent what feels like a few seconds in the U.K. Why do holidays always fly by?
I’m now straight back into work and it’s almost as if we never went away. But we did, for 6 weeks, and just chilling with my family and being in a busy household was calming and relaxing and healing for the soul. No matter where my parents are, and no matter how old I am, I still find their house to be the most comfortable and freeing place to be in.
So what did we do? Lots of traveling, mainly in Scotland (we visited Loch Lomond, Glasgow, Stirling, Falkirk and Edinburgh) but it wasn’t all fun and sight-seeing in fact, it wasn’t so much a holiday as a steady stream of minor panic attacks and here’s why:
- A month or so before going, I was told that my Grandpa had cancer and needed serious surgery to remove said evil from his neck and the lymph-nodes in his armpits. The surgery happened a week after I arrived and for a 91 year old, it was intense. Watching my mum hide her anxiousness was quite emotional and facing the possibility of losing such an important figure in my life just didn’t want to compute. Yet, I knew, deep down, that he would make it, and he did. The recovery has been slow and he has had numerous trips back to the hospital to have the cavities drained of fluid yet his humor hasn’t failed and he still puts my gran in her place when she gets a little bossy.
- Mr H’s visa never arrived in time and after changing his flight three times it got to the point where we were almost resigned to him not coming at all. Fortunately, a week behind schedule, he joined us in Scotland in time to watch the military tattoo.
- We managed to forget Mr H’s passport in the lodge we were staying in in Scotland. It went through the wash and ended up in a police station in Dundee, handed in by an actual angel. We then fought with DHL to get the passport to us; fought with the South African embassy in London who are about as helpful as a lace umbrella in a hurricane and fought with ourselves (I am terrible under stress) about having to get down to London to get a travel document. Praise the Lord that whilst the passport looked messed up, Emirates let us fly home with it saving us a serious amount of cash.
However, despite these crazily upsetting and emotionally draining events, there were so many beautiful moments of smiles, laughter, hugs, history and sausages (English sausages are the best) that have overshadowed the bad bits. Here are just a few pics from our travels….
Best experiences on this trip:
- Exploring the amazing city of Edinburgh. We went at one of the busiest times of the year (the Fringe festival and the Tattoo) and the vibe was incredible. There are monuments to famous Scots everywhere and an eclectic mix of Medieval, Stuart, Georgian and modern buildings that will take your breath away. Mr H and I spent one evening just walking up and down the streets and watching the fireworks over Edinburgh Castle. I will happily go back.
- The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo is one of the most amazing shows I have ever seen IN MY LIFE. My parents absolutely spoiled us with those tickets to see it and I will thank them forever. An evening of unforgettable music, ceremony, theatre and dance performed by military bands from around the world – the precision is next to none. You’ll never hear bagpipes sound as magical as when they are played on the ramparts of Scotland’s greatest castle.
- The Royal Yacht Britannia (another Edinburgh goody) was a splendid example of just how good the Queen and her family have it. I am a complete Royalist, unashamedly proud of the tourism it brings in and the steadfast commitment the Queen has to her country. The Britannia, now no longer in service, was used as the royal family’s touring vessel for over 40 years, sailing over 1,000,000 miles around the world. Seeing where they stayed, how much the crew had to do, how clean the engine rooms were and how the Captain would often do 11 clothing changes a day was riveting. It’s one of the few attractions that you can visit comfortably in a wheelchair and with a pushchair.
- Enjoying Rosie in the company of her family was a real tear jerker. It was such a joy to see my daughter interact with my family and to see how much she developed in the 6 weeks. She learnt new songs and new animal sounds and she is such a social being that she really came alive in the presence of everyone.
- Watching home movies at my grandparents. My Grandpa has years of footage of the family and watching videos of my late brother was beautifully moving.
- My Grandpa. What an absolute gift. He has inspired me to be more craft-orientated, to realize that you are only as old as how you feel and that humor will always save a difficult situation.
- Despite having the NHS, well-stocked and varied supermarket produce and amazing outdoor locations, people don’t look after themselves as well as they should. Obesity is a real issue which I don’t really get because the amount of fresh fruit and veg and the ability to walk everywhere, safely, should encourage a healthier lifestyle. Yet on this trip, I was quite shocked at how badly people treat their bodies.
- Salt is a lot less in foods. McDonald’s chips in England almost taste bland compared to our SA counterpart because they have so much less salt and KFC chips don’t have that radioactive covering that they do over here. Crisps taste more real and tartrazine which is a huge problem in SA is banned in the UK.
- Sugar is also less. Did you know, a 30g serving of a 490g box of Cheerios in South Africa has 12g of Sugar in it. A 600g box of Cheerios in the UK has only 6g per 30g serving. That’s INSANE.
- Parking is balls. You can pay over R300 to go to see an attraction and STILL have to pay for parking which is a further R90. It’s actually disgusting but then I weigh up the cost and safety of public transport and walking then perhaps it’s worth it…or perhaps not.
- I do not deal well in stressful situations. Losing a passport is enough to make someone lose all their hair and I almost did. It brought out my inner monster, something I should try and work on.
My next trip will sadly only be in August again next year so that’s another 365 days of Facetime, Whatsapp and Facebook messages before real-life cuddles. *sigh* let the count-down begin.