Towards the tail end of June when we would have originally been heading home for good, we were in fact gearing up for the next leg of our adventure in South America. We planned a stop in the UK for 10 days to attend the wedding of some friends and catch up with loved ones, a little holiday at home before setting off again.

It ended up being a bizarre experience for two reasons. 1 – we never actually set foot in our own home and 2 – we were completely living the high life with the best weather the UK had seen for at least 3 years. Both of which are extreme false advertising for what our lives used to be like! It really did feel like a holiday which is very odd to have in the place that you normally call home.

 

Me doing what I love best - this bbq was for 75 folks so there were 2 massive grills going at the same time

Me doing what I love best – this bbq was for 75 folks so there were 2 massive grills going at the same time

Paul’s parents kindly took us in for a few days in the town we call home and we also spent some time in my own home town with some dear friends. It was great fun and absolutely exhausting at the same time. We arrived in Buenos Aires 10 days later and were sleeping around 11 hours per night! Our short stay at home was somewhat in contrast to our relaxed (read:lazy) lifestyle in Asia.

 

It was so very strange being thrown back into British culture after so long away and it really makes you look at your own country with fresh eyes. It was weird noticing that very little had changed physically, our town still looked exactly the same in every way. Of course relationships and personal lives had evolved, but for us as returning travel hobos we found our feelings swinging from embracing the familiarity to feeling completely alien in our surroundings.

 

The gorgeous bridge and groom with their yummy cake

An amazing summer wedding – the gorgeous bridge and groom with their yummy cake

A few examples of what you would probably call reverse culture shock

 

How very polite everyone is

It’s a massive stereotype but not something I actually noticed until I’ve spent a prologued period of time out of the country, Brits overall are ridiculously polite. My favourite example is that someone could get barged into on the street and yet they will still apologise to the person doing the barging. It also made us giggle on one train journey that was running a whole minute late, the conductor profusely apologised over the intercom and assured us that we would make up the time so there was no inconvenience.

 

My favourite pub in the world - the food is outstanding

My favourite pub in the world – the food is outstanding

Being welcomed by extremely friendly folks

It goes without saying that hugs from friends and family were amazing and so needed. What I’d forgotten is how friendly the folks in the north of the UK really are. From shop keepers to waiters to people you bump into on the street – it was so nice to feel the genuine warmth from random encounters every day. Just having someone ramble away to you in your own language is an amazing feeling after being away for so long.

 

Paul with his best girls, the daughters of a couple of our dearest friends - this little minx is Charlotte

Paul with his best girls, the daughters of a couple of our dearest friends – this little minx is Charlotte

And the gorgeous Cat in the Hat is Emily

And the gorgeous Cat in the Hat is Emily

Only in Yorkshire

We were rolling about laughing at some of the oddities that you will only find in our corner of the world. We’d hardly noticed any of them when we lived there full time. On another train journey the service was running 20 minutes late due to cows wandering onto the line, seriously. The train conductor again apologised profusely and said he was sure the cows felt terrible for the inconvenience. The news on t.v is truly terrible, when we looked at what was actually going on around the world and yet a steam engine exhibition was the lead story on the evening news. It explains to a certain extent the bubble I used to live in when it came to world news.

 

Food is actually really good and the portions are massive

I’d always defended the UK food scene against its many critics but since we’ve been away I feel like it’s reached an entirely new level. We had some really excellent meals with top quality produce, I was in food heaven the entire time and definitely left a few pounds heavier.

 

I’ve lost count of how many people have said “but America is just full of fat people eating enormous portions of junk food” whenever I harp on about how much I love it there. I’ve got news for you folks, our portions in the UK are at very least the same size and quite often bigger than what we had in the U.S. We were also quite shocked at how many seriously overweight people we spotted wandering around, after being in the land of extremely petite folks for 5 months it made us realise that the problems the USA have with food are just the same as our own.

Delicious slow cooked brisket with Yorkshire pudding and mashed potato - it also came with a side of roasted root vegetables. Heaven on a plate!

Delicious slow cooked brisket with Yorkshire pudding and mashed potato – it also came with a side of roasted root vegetables. Heaven on a plate!

Despite being one of the most expensive countries in Western Europe some things are incredibly cheap

Sandwich meal deals at lunch time, early bird menus in restaurants, if you know where to look then food can be very reasonable which was a huge surprise. Also, if you plan ahead public transport can be dirt cheap. We used the rail system a lot on our visit home and I was pleasantly surprised by the prices. I’ve just booked Paul and I train fares from London to Harrogate in October (a 4 hour journey) for only £13pp.

 

With some of our besties at a fabulous wedding

With some of our besties at a fabulous wedding

 

The time at home also made us realise how easy it would be to fall straight back into exactly the same life we had before. As we’ve travelled we have acknowledged that we need to change a few fundamental aspects of our lives at home in order to be happy and this trip acted as a sort of test. The result is that we’ll need to fight like hell to make those changes, it would be all too easy to slip back into our lazy ways.

 

Your relationships with people have effectively been on pause for over a year but in that time you have so fundamentally changed, it’s very strange feeling like a completely different person in somewhere so familiar. I’m grateful to have had the time at home to get a tiny glimpse of some of the feelings we’ll have when we go home for good but mostly just because we had the opportunity to spend time with the people we love. I’ve said on occasion that I haven’t missed the U.K all that much but I have gone through phases of chronically missing our friends and family. Thanks guys for giving us an action packed week of love and laughter, we’ll see you soon.

 

On of our many incarnations of the dream house

One of our many incarnations of the dream house

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15 Responses

  1. Carmel

    This sounds a bit like Kim’s experience coming home. So much has changed, but in some ways, it’s all the same. It’s very interesting reading your experiences about coming home. I guess you hope for some profound change to be so self evident and overwhelming that you don’t have to fight so much to not fall back into old patterns, but it’s really much more subtle and difficult.

    Side note: your friend’s wedding dress is SO beautiful.
    Carmel recently posted..SAYING GOODBYE TOO SOONMy Profile

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    • Maddie

      Exactly that! For the people at home it’s like you’ve been put somewhere for a year and they get back exactly the same person but for us we don’t even recognise the people we were, it’s so odd. Hopefully we’ll be able to combine old and new with some sort of ease. Our friend looked absolutely stunning, she’s gorgeous anyway but the dress was something else!

      Reply
  2. Laura

    Glad coming home for your hols was a good experience! Hope that when you come back for good you keep enjoying yourself and aren’t too travel sick! See you soon, keep enjoying your many adventures!!

    Reply
    • Maddie

      We’ll just have to make sure we have plenty to look forward to when we get back! Bonfire night anyone?

      Reply
  3. Rob

    Oh, now I miss Yorkshire 🙂 and the truly terrible local news stories. Although it’s pretty similar her in North Scotland! You left us hanging with that steam engine exhibition…

    Did you find England ridiculously clean after coming back? I couldn’t get over it! I also slipped back into the old routines when I came back and in someways it’s comforting to have those same relationships with old friends. What I do love though is when you meet a fellow travelling soul and click instantly, it’s rare but very cool!
    Rob recently posted..Midweek Eat! Tasty cheese and spinach filo pieMy Profile

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    • Maddie

      The steam train thing was so funny, it was on the news every day for 3 days. They had some ancient trains at the railway museum at York and it was the top headline! We did find the UK really clean and everything was incredibly green! Funny you say about meeting fellow travellers, Paul said that that he saw my face light up when I met someone that had travelled long term at the wedding we went to, we knattered on for ages about various travel stories and it was great fun 🙂

      Reply
  4. Constance

    Many people travel to my hometown and when I was younger, I could never understand why. Sometimes we take what is around us for granted. But now, when I return, I always appreciate everything it has to offer!! I love returning to my hometown (and home country) and enjoying everything familiar!! Thanks for sharing and I look forward to reading about your future travels!!
    Constance recently posted..Spectacular Sunsets in Taiwan – Part 2My Profile

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    • Maddie

      It is funny how you don’t appreciate what is so familiar, I’m a firm believer that even the most exotic location will become routine if you stay long enough. We’re lucky to live in one of the most beautiful parts of England and seeing it through fresh eyes was very much needed!

      Reply
  5. Charlie

    Aww this post has made me miss the UK! I totally agree with you about the food, it’s so good! I don’t know why British food still has the reputation of being so bad. I could murder a Sunday roast dinner right now!

    Every time I go home it’s the strangest feeling. But I think, although most people do fall back into old patterns after a while, you never approach things quite the same because, after travel, a part of you truly is a different person. That’s my experience anyhow!
    Charlie recently posted..My Bilingual SummerMy Profile

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    • Maddie

      I was craving mashed potato and Yorkshire puddings so bad when we got back, it’s ridiculous! I really hope you’re right Charlie, I really do miss a lot of things about our old lives but I really want to make the effort to approach things differently like you say. I feel like a completely different (better) person and want to make sure that doesn’t disappear.

      Reply
  6. Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    Well, given that Tony & I love to eat supper at unfashionably early hours, I’m really looking forward to taking advantage of the early-bird food specials when we reach the UK!

    For quite a while early on in our travels I kept thinking that going home wouldn’t be that much of a stretch, that things like portion size or options at the grocery store, etc., wouldn’t faze me. But just the other day I was watching a cooking show from back home and I was absolutely flabbergasted by how huge the portions were. On occasion, Tony & I split dishes here in Asia so that we can try more things, but I definitely think that when we get to Europe we’ll have to do this all that time as otherwise one person’s meal is going to be going to waste!

    Also, I think it’s common for travelers to return home and claim that everything is going to be different, only to slowly backslide back into exactly the life they had before. A bit like how New Year’s Eve resolutions generally get chucked out the window! I think it requires a lot of soul-searching and thinking about what you were unhappy with before and a concerted effort to be active in your own happiness where ever you should find yourself! I know you guys will manage it, and it’s great to see that when it is time for you two to return home for a longer stretch, there will be much to look forward to!
    Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) recently posted..What We Ate: TainanMy Profile

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    • Maddie

      I will look forward to hearing what you both have to say about the food in the UK, it will be fun to read your posts about my own country 🙂 Paul is never fazed by portions but after being in Asia for so long he actually had a look of fear the first time we ate out at home!

      I really hope you’re right about the pair of us when we get home. It just gave me a glimpse of how terribly easy it would be to act like nothing had changed. Because we were both fairly unhappy before I think it will give us the kick up the bum to do something about it this time.

      Reply
  7. Ron Deaton

    You’ll be pleased to know that we’ve nearly finished the brisket that you couldn’t manage to eat at The Fountaine Inn! I thought it would have lasted a bit longer but sadly it’s nearly all gone.I can only think you were having a bad day when we made the pilgrimage to Linton-in-Craven if only because I don’t remember you failing to polish off the voluminous portions of everything else you tackled during your visit.Incidentally; I understand that your absence has prompted Graveleys to issue a profits warning, and half the fishing fleet that supply the Harrogate emporium with haddock have been mothballed pending your return. Chomp on.

    Reply
    • Maddie

      Ha ha ha!!! That brisket was so incredibly delicious. You will have to inform Graveleys that we’ll be back in October so not to panic just yet, I have no doubt that it will be our first UK meal again!

      Reply

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