Saturday, December 12, 2009

A quick trip back to the UK ...

A morning out in Kingston-upon-Thames on the Surrey/South London borders reminded me once again what great buildings there are in the UK. I am sure I pretty much took them for granted when I lived there, but having been starved of much architecture more than 100 years old, these styles and shapes just slapped me in the face.

The street market was in full swing, complete with cockney geezer flogging off cauliflowers at bargain prices.

As usual, my eye was drawn to flowers and this colourful market stall allowed me a wistful sigh at such variety plunged into a bucket.

Talking of flowers, good lord - it was December and there still so much colour and texture in the landscape and gardens. This camellia was in full bloom in my father-in-law's south London garden.

I was overcome with sheer jealousy actually - the vibrant hedges, luxurious laurels, (admittedly squelchy and sodden but oh-so-green) lawns and the sheer variety of evergreens - purple hebes in flower - sigh.

Even the modern style at Heathrow Airport's new terminal 5 was interesting to me - though one doesn't hang around with a camera when there are so many armed police officers close by, not that I think I look like a terrorist, but you never know.

A rainy day in central London is essential viewing on any trip back to the UK. The Christmas lights sparkled in the dull, cloudy afternoon light.

Stunning efforts were made to illuminate little side alleyways.

Carnaby Street was awash with love.

Oxford Street displaying a rather large ode to the new Christmas Carol film release.

Ah ha! and finally, the main reason for hitting central London anyway - a trip to the theatre. Wow, what fun - we all thoroughly enjoyed this show - a prequel, if you will, to how the "Wicked Witch of the West" got her name. Clever story with superb cast. Highly recommended.

Even the detailing in the architecture in the theatre prompted another camera outing!

I return from this one week mini-holiday delighting in the abundant space and lack of humanity in my chunk of Canada, having felt constantly rushed, pushed along and claustrophobic in southern England .

I am shivering at the prospect of going outside into my current minus 21 degree snowy landscape; dressing in several layers to shovel snow off the driveway yesterday will soon lose its appeal after the tenth time. And realising that only a few days ago I was wandering around in only a hooded fleece in 8 degrees of dull but damp easy-to-manoeuvre mild weather.

The contrast in landscape and colour is startling. The UK offers a rich, green, damp and fertile vista but under a dullness to the light of day. Alberta currently offers a bright high sky with a white snowy view, but if there is no snow, there is no other colour until May.

Hmmmmm. And that's just what it all looked like.

I can't even begin to comment on what I feel like. These trips back consolidate so much, and unsettle completely in other ways!


  1. Glad you had a great trip, albeit brief. Talk about culture shock!

    I look forward to hearing about how you felt getting to the UK and then again when you got back. I'm still unsure how I really feel - seems to change from day to day.

  2. Woooo! I love of the lights!

    I miss London...

    Looks like you had fun, despite the expat syndrome stuff... I so get that!

  3. I know what you mean about the unsettling nature of visits back. I miss London too, and yet when I lived an hour from there I rarely went. Flowers, why do flowers cost so much here even in summer??? I miss being able to buy flowers every week

  4. Thanks Rob - it was a good but brief reminder! I can understand your mixed feelings on the place, especially as you didn't really leave Toronto of your own choice.

    Thanks marnie - expat syndrome - that's it exactly!

  5. Mog - you are right - flowers here are an absolute luxury - so much so that I never, ever have them in the house now ....

  6. Hi Ann, I am glad you had a nice trip and I hope the first few days on your new job go well. Arriving back to -28 on the weekend cannot be good for the EXPAT syndrome. Give me a call when you fancy a coffee and have settled in to the new routine. I'm buying. MG


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