Writing my first posts from the UK was not the plan. After a whirlwind but carefully choreographed week after leaving work, my 97 boxes had been taken away to begin the long journey to Sydney, my suitcases for the plane packed, flat cleaned, leaving drinks enjoyed (perhaps a bit too much… ahem), and boarding passes printed. But some things can’t be controlled… the night before I was due to put my one-way ticket into action and embark on a 10-week dream holiday, I learned of my grandmother’s death and threw the plans out of the window.
Suddenly it was one decision at a time. Starting with “Do I fly tomorrow morning?” Once I’d settled on “no”, I decided that everything else could wait until tomorrow. After each decision I worked out what the next one was and gave myself time to make it. I’ve now got further with the decisions: staying with my parents until the funeral on Monday, flying to Sydney the next morning, rebooking this week’s Tasmanian tour to start the weekend after I arrive, cancelling the following week’s tour and picking up my original travel plans from the Adelaide test match onwards. Still things to sort – insurance (more on that in a future post), flight refunds, post-tour accommodation… but I’m getting there.
I think I’ve been able to help with funeral arrangements (typesetting orders of service are within my skillset, it turns out, and knowing a nice pub in the right bit of Oxford should mean we have the post-service refreshments sorted). But going from the rollercoaster of getting myself ready to emigrate to suddenly having close to nothing to do has been strange. Very strange. Nothing to do is really not my style. I go mad if I have to sit still for ten minutes let alone two weeks. But, in a desperate attempt to stay sane, I’ve discovered and enjoyed many things – the view from St Giles Hill in Winchester (where my parents live) and a stonking lunch in the lovely Wykeham Arms, which I’d never got to before; a country walk along the Thames with a friend on his week off between jobs; catching up with people who couldn’t make my leaving drinks; a new and superb coffee shop in Oxford; some bonus time with my parents who I’ll miss immensely; a chance to draw breath in a way I wouldn’t have had I got on that plane as planned.
The last fortnight feels like three months, I’ve no idea what day it is half the time, and there’s definitely a big grey cloud I’d never have chosen. But it’s one with silver linings. Australia will still be there when I arrive, and the sun will probably still be shining. Right now, family comes first and I’ve a final few days of Autumn colours to enjoy here.