Tracy's UK holiday

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feel like the blog has been a little neglected lately! Probably because we've been a little bit busy! So take a seat, make a cuppa / grab a beer / glass of wine and get comfy for the next instalments of the Perry’s!

Last time I wrote, I was about to go to the UK on holiday, firstly that’s a weird thing – going to your home country for a holiday! Secondly, come the day, I didn’t really want to go. I didn’t want to say goodbye to Andy, as since we’ve been married we hadn’t spent a night apart (that’s if you don’t count Andy’s late nights out clubbing!!), and usually being a glass half full girl, I suddenly thought forward to the end of my trip when I’d have to say goodbye all over again, and didn’t want to do that, thinking to myself it would be easier to stay in Beijing.

However, I did it! Andy took me to the airport, big hugs goodbye and manly 'don’t make me cry’ moments (even though his eyes looked a little watery to me, mine certainly were!), and off I went, late at night, in a very quiet airport, glad to find a Starbucks that was open to while the time away. A good journey, landing just after 5am UK time, very weary but really excited to come through the gate and see Mum & Dad! There they were (not teary & emotional at all…….) big hugs all around, and a coffee stop in Costa to catch up before getting in the car. It was sooooo nice to see them again after 15 months away!

I really enjoyed the country route drive back to Liss, enjoying the simple things – clean fresh air, clear skies, blue skies, sunshine, greenery, fields, open spaces, I kept looking at everything in amazement for the first few days and enjoyed what Beijing lacks! A very busy day in store, I freshened up, when Lou turned up to surprise me having taken the day off which was fab. We went to Southsea & had lunch in Lou Lou’s, before going to the estate agents to pick up the house keys – the house had been empty for a few weeks and new tenants were moving in that day. I wanted to get some stuff out of the loft to take back to China with me, so although a bit chaotic it was nice meeting them & knowing who was going to be looking after our home whilst we’re away, pleased to find that they seemed like a nice couple. The rest of the day passed in a jet lagged blur, Doctor’s appointment, a bit of a walk, dinner at the Belle Isle, home to 2 episodes of Corrie, me driving Mum mad asking ‘what’s happened’ all the time! And….. SLEEP!!!

A Petersfield wander on the Saturday, enjoying the lovely market town again, finding things a bit weird, like standing in Waitrose where there is so much choice, and the staff speaking to you in a language that you understand, looking in your wallet for money & it feeling strangely familiar!! The afternoon was spent with the lovely Meon girls, a fab afternoon & evening sat in Lou G’s garden, enjoying the sun, lots of gossip and copious amounts of food & drink, all the scrummy stuff I’d missed!

Sunday Dad & I had a really good cycle ride around the country lanes, I was still marvelling at blue skies, clouds and big green open spaces!!! This was mainly to work up to the one thing I’d been waiting for, and missed more than anything else…… a good old Sunday roast! Went to Old Thorns in Liphook for a carvery with Mum, Dad, Lou and Oli and wow, it didn’t disappoint! A mountain of food, and good gravy (yep, just to make Andy jealous!!) yum yum yum. Recovery coffee in Starbucks after & we were done. It was great to spend time with everyone, and to meet Oli (who’s lovely I have to add!!). A wander around the village in the afternoon to see my old neighbour Joan, who I surprised greatly! Before seeing Katharyn, Les, Megan & Tom.

Monday was someone who I’ve missed very much, my very best friend Sarah. We’d booked in 2 days for catching up, not nearly enough so a return visit on 2 more occasions!! As an aside, I drove to Sarah’s – the first time in a car in 15 months, Dad very kindly let me borrow his car (not my beloved mini but it was still good!) and just to confirm, it’s like riding a bike, you never forget! It was wonderful to spend time with Sarah, we went shopping, had lunch, got drunk in the evening & danced around to music in the garden in our PJ’s, and finally crashed! The following day we went to Fareham, more shopping, and our usual pamper afternoon at our favourite place, 3 hours of bliss, massage, nails and champagne. Oh, the evening before, we ordered Chinese takeaway, strange choice you may think, but it’s so different here, made for Western tastes, I just wanted to have my favourite bright orange sweet & sour chicken, it was ok but pretty terrible really when you compare it, actually I can’t compare it!

Evening time it was out for dinner with Rosie & Steve, formely known as my ‘local’ parents in Southsea! A bit far away for that role in Beijing, but still much appreciated! A delicious meal at the Flying Bull and a catch up.

Wednesday I headed down to Portsmouth to meet Andy’s Mum, Barbara who had come down to visit with her friend Sue. I was really touched that she came down from Warrington to visit, so we met up & headed to Gunwharf for a lovely lunch, enjoying food & wine, then coffee sat outside, we were going to see the Mary Rose but got tickets a bit late, they still went but I had to head off. I was still amazed that it was lovely weather.

In the evening, I went to see my other good friend Sarah at her new house in Steep, wow…. this place is amazing! Old country house overlooking the Souths Downs, with loads of character and a massive garden – trust me, I know it’s massive as her lovely girls, Sophia & Myah had me running races around it, that’s after the trampoline session, phew!! Sarah & I then escaped into Petersfield, enjoying a glass of bubbly at The Drum, now I never thought I’d say ‘The Drum is really nice’ after it being a complete dive for years on end, but it was lovely. Tapas at Annie Jones garden bar afterwards made for a lovely evening. Ok, too many 'lovely's' but I'm running out of adjectives. Lovely.....

Coffee with Aunty Sal on Thursday in Peterfield, a long coffee sat in the square, lots to catch up on, followed by lunch at Mezzo, very nice indeed – I loved my days, coffee here, lunch there…… felt like a right lady that lunches!

For the first time, I had an evening in at Mum & Dad’s! A country walk before dinner, and a chilled out evening. I’d been flat out since arriving, and realised that time out was needed.

I did need it, as what followed was a night out with Sarah aka Colleen, in wait for it…. Kingsleys, Portsmouth’s hottest night spot…. Ok if you believe that, then you’ll believe anything! A big Bacardi before hitting the town was in order, then a few glasses of wine in Southsea I was actually drunk. I think it’s because a lot of the alcohol in China is fake, so I’m not used to the real thing! We hit Kingsleys, a bizarre place really, full of people twice our age, my high point of the night was trying to order 2 for 1 cocktails before 10pm, telling the barman what I wanted, was £10 worth of orgasms please….. hmm….. cue a very drunk Tracy, who around 3am told Sarah she needed to go home & was a little ‘sleepy’ lets say!!

Hangover Saturday involved 2 breakfasts, before meeting Lou in Southsea. We enjoyed a walk, a coffee, a shop, and back to hers for a lovely chilled out evening – M&S dinner, very indulgent food, and watched Sex and the City, and both cried like girls, even though we’d watched it loads of times before, it was just like it was when we watched it the first time together at the cinema!!

A great Neville get together followed on the Sunday, meeting the 2 newest additions to the Neville family (ok, one Neville one Mercer, but you get me), Snowdrop and Oscar and Aunty Ellie & Uncle Dave’s house. It was another glorious sunny day, so we had a garden party, lovely food & wine, and all stood going ga ga over 2 gorgeous little babies! Lots of baby cuddles, it was a fab afternoon. Wonderful to see Rachel & Dave, Mikey & Polly as Mum’s and Dad’s, and Dave & Ellie enjoying being grandparents. Poor Uncle Dave had a fall just before I left the UK, and ended up stranded in hospital on the Isle of Wight for days, but is home now & recovering, so we wish him lots of love and hope he’s ok.

London was calling, so off I went on the train with Mum & Dad doing all the London things I love, wandering along the embankment, having a coffee, enjoying Covent Garden, people watching, an overwhelming visit to Primark, so much so we walked straight out, we met Lou after a hospital appointment but sadly she wasn’t well so headed home early. The 3 of us had dinner near Chinatown (yes, had to look around!!) in an O’Neills, and I devoured a beef & Guinness pie, washed down with a pint of the black stuff too!

Saw my gorgeous cousin Megg on Tuesday for lunch, catching up on her job, holidays, and boys of course!

Return visit to Sarah’s, Gunwharf, and a trip to see Lou who I used to work with. We went to a pretty tea room in Titchfield, and had a cream tea, nice. Lou & her husband are about to move to Guernsey having spent years at Hampshire Police, so it was exciting talking about their move, and the emotions and experiences we’d had moving to China. In the evening I spent more time with Lou G with a glass of Vino in The Drum, and some tapas.

Randomly over the few weeks I met 2 different people who were working in shops / café’s who I got chatting to, who are both planning on moving to China in the future to teach English, so we swapped e-mail addresses are have kept in touch, it’s nice to be able to offer people advice on coming here, it’s such a big unknown, it’s good to help.

Mum & Dad had the Thursday & Friday off so we went out exploring. Thursday we went to Wisley Gardens in Surrey, a beautiful place and far bigger than any of us had remembered, loved the pretty gardens and flowers, we walked around for hours. After that we headed to the Surrey Hills, and then to St Martha’s church, which can only be reached by foot up a big hill, with stunning views all around – it was still sunny (yep, I know, couldn’t believe it either!) so the views were great & well worth the climb, and nice to visit somewhere new.

Friday I caught up with Mark in Whiteley, who I owed coffee to for a big favour! Useful having friends still in high places ;) thank you Mr W! Southsea after to reminisce, a rainy morning but cleared in the afternoon for a walk around the sea front and Old Portsmouth which I also miss being pretty landlocked in Beijing! I couldn’t bring myself to go to our favourite Southsea bar, the A Bar without Andy, it just wouldn’t have been the same. Missed him loads walking around our old haunts.

The last weekend was upon me, a weird feeling knowing I’d have to say goodbye again, and kind of wanted to fast forward and just be back in Beijing. I’d missed Andy loads, so was looking forward to getting back to him too.

I had a last wander around Petersfield on Saturday with Mum & Dad, then headed to Southsea to Lou’s, and into town with her & Oli for a birthday do, it was raining heavily, so we got soaked, and I took off my rose tinted glasses of a sunny UK, which was probably a good thing!! Dinner in the Belle Isle, then a cold wet drive home on the motorway, remembering how much I used to hate that – yep, gearing my mind up for returning to Beijing!

Sunday it was time for farewells, family dinner at Las Iguanas followed by the afternoon & evening at All Bar One for anyone who wanted to come along, lovely to see Rob & Jackie from work, as well as Simon – thank you for coming, as well as the Meon girls, Lizzie too despite a blow out on the M27 and assistance from the Police and 2 Mormons, she was a determined lady & still came along! Rosie & Steve and friends, Kate who I hadn’t managed to see until then (Kate who is responsible for me & Andy getting together!!). Thank you everyone for coming along, it was great. First bout of tears was saying bye to Lou, incredibly sad as had some great times together whilst home, I lost it totally going to the train station, so much so, Kate came running after me & caught me on the train, and travelled with me a couple of stops, more tears & pretty much cried the whole way back to Liss, looked a right mess! Thank you Kate!

Monday, butterflies….. some of excitement knowing I was flying back to see Andy, some of dread saying goodbye to Mum & Dad at the airport. The ‘will I fit everything I’ve got from the loft & bought in the shops fit in the 2 cases’ butterflies had flown away, hitting 46kgs in both cases, the exact weight I was allowed, £45 for an extra case, well worth it!

A pretty countryside drive up to the airport, where I kept remembering that we weren’t on another day out for coffee / lunch etc. and that there were going to be tears was quite horrible. A very sad goodbye with hugs & tears all around, and me walking off with my trolley up the excruciatingly slow travelator, keep turning around to wave goodbye to Mum & Dad at the bottom…… final wave, and there am I full of tears checking in etc. again, a total mess!!

So in summary (in know, you could have just forwarded to this bit, but remember this is our diary!!), I had an amazing time, got to see most people I wanted to and visit most places I wanted to, eaten most things I’d missed, and spent quality time with Mum, Dad, Lou and Sarah, as well as a little time to chill out as well. The weather was great, I even got a suntan which has been noticed back here in Beijing, would you believe it!!! It’s nice to know that you can come back and visit, and ‘slot’ back into your old life, it’s like I’d never been away after the initial few days, and that life carries on but not much really changes, so I well & truly had my UK fix, it was sadder saying goodbye this time, I think it’s because I don’t know when I’ll be able to come back again, and last time Andy & I were together, if I’d lost it that time I wouldn’t have got on the plane, so had to do the preparation & goodbyes masking my sadness with excitement, or else I couldn’t have done it.

Thank you so much to everyone that I spent time with, and for treating me – I loved the fact that everyone wanted to pay for my drinks / food etc!! I felt really spoilt, being back at ‘Pine Cottage’ was very homely and comforting, Mum & Dad you were wonderful (and Dad, I didn’t even crash your car!!) and I didn’t really need reminding as such, as I knew it already, but I know how important family & friends are, and enjoyed spending precious time together. My choice is to live in Beijing for the foreseeable future, but it doesn’t mean I don’t love & miss everyone a hell of a lot.

Being away from Beijing also made me appreciate the amazing adventures we’ve had here, and will continue to have. It was good to have time out from the crazy life we live here, and reflect on life, and it’s true – absence does make the heart grow fonder.

Ok, better sign off now as I’m getting all soppy!

I’ll save the Perry re-union for my next blog, but just for a taster of what’s to come in the Beijing blog….. I’ve started my new job!!!!!!!

Lots of love to everyone,

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Sal on

Wow Trace you achieved the impossible, condensed your whole trip into just 17 photos!!! I loved reading your blog (and your so positive thoughts) Very special to have spent some quality time with you on your trip, thank you again! 'Til the next time....................its good to have you and on your blog! Cant wait to read the next instalment .......xxxx

Lou on

Lovely blog not sure I will be as organised as you to keep it up!! Good to see you xx

Dave and Ellie on

Great reading.Wow what a busy 2 weeks and all happy and glorious apart from farewells that is !!!Sunshine all the way as well .Now that has to be a miracle.It was really great to see you . Love it when we all get together. Take care .Lots of love to you and Andy

mary speirs on words .....a never ending whirlwind of adventures..... You're looking so well and happy..... ! Just wish I could have met you for a coffee too! BUT.....your travel blog keeps you near all of us..... there would never have been enough time anyway for you to tell us all your stories over a coffee!!!xxxx LOL

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