We are getting ready to fly back to the UK for our first home leave trip and I am not sure how I feel about it.
I am so excited to see people, I cannot even put it into words.
I have got used to not seeing friends and family every day or week. I am just about used to the time difference and knowing everyone in the UK is in bed when I am relaxing in the evening (though it is a nice surprise when I see someone on facebook!). I feel we are settling into life here even though it has been a rollercoaster of emotions over the last few months.
7 months! We moved here over 7 months ago! In some ways it feels like a lifetime... My niece was just a few months old when we left so I barely know her. What a contrast to her brother, my first born nephew, who I got to know so well over the last 6 years. Babies have been born that I haven't met yet and hopefully one more before we land next week! Our children have grown up so much since we left, Toby was only crawling and now is climbing onto and into everything, opening doors and escaping into the garden!
And yet in some ways I can't believe we are going next week! I can't believe I am going to see everyone, be able to hold babies, stroke pregnant bellies, cuddle toddlers and admire the bigger ones!
But what else am I looking forward to? Food? TV? Weather? English accents?
Food - yes there are some things I am looking forward to though we've been lucky to have plenty of visitors who have kept us in supply of tea bags and cadbury's chocolate. I really want sausages, juicy tasty Lincolnshire sausages with mash and gravy. I want to walk into a supermarket and know that I only have to choose what I fancy, not have to check every label to see how much salt, how many preservatives, artificial colours and flavours to mention just a few of the things they put in food over here (and that's just the chicken!).
I have to say that food has been one of the hardest changes and the least expected. I'd been told about the staggering choice of milk (non fat, 1%, 2%, whole, vit d, omega 3, half & half, non-fat dairy creamer...), about the cheese (now there is another thing I am looking forward to - decent cheese in every shop including the co-op and not having to go to the one specific shop who has imported french brie and don't even ask what squirty cheese is!) but I was not prepared for the high salt levels, the additives, the strong flavours and the lack of choice. We can't get everything we want in one supermarket so the 'friday night big shop' has become a week long quest for foods that we are used to, tastes we have grown up with, ingredients needed for the recipes in my English cookbooks. Don't get me wrong, there are lots of new and exciting foods to try (my waistline is testament to that!) but I have had to get used to the food and shopping here.
TV. Have I missed British TV? Not really. I wish I hadn't found out about the ending of Spooks on facebook but the show had run it's course I think and I was starting to lose interest (or had we been planning this move for so long that as a self defence mechanism I talked myself into not liking it anymore?!).
We are still able to watch the F1 on Speed and are used to the way it's presented but I do miss Jake and the team.
And we have found new tv programmes for the kids (Diego, US version of Chuggington and Peppa Pig is aired here, with English accents!) and can still watch our favourites like CSI NY, House, HIMYM as well as discovering shows like Modern Family.
I do watch some shows on BBC America and am always surprised when the American ads come on and I remember I am not in the UK!
I missed my lunch time soaps at first but more because I used to laugh about them with a friend and miss that interaction. The other soaps seem ridiculous when you find out what has happened since you left.
I have stopped hearing the American accent as different and think I will be shocked when I hear Charlotte talking to our friends' kids. She sounds so different to me but the neighbours still think she sounds English! I'm not sure what will happen when she tells Grandma she needs to go pottie... I have a feeling my Mum will panic as they don't have a potty and then laugh when she sees Charlotte taking herself off to the toilet (she was still in nappies when we left).
I am very excited to rediscover the UK, to see all of our friends and family but also a bit nervous. I have forgotten how to drive a manual car, how to drive on the left hand side of the road and hope I go the right way round the roundabouts! I am nervous how we will feel being back 'home' when really home is where the heart is and we are building a new home here (however temporary). Will I realise how much we have left behind and not want to come back to America? Or will everything have changed so much, everyone moved on so much that we feel like aliens in the UK?
So much to rediscover, lots of which I have probably forgotten about or put out of my mind as self preservation. We have thrown ourselves into life here to make the most of it. I am embracing life here and making lots of great friends along the way. There is no point worrying about how long we are here for, where we will end up and when but life here will go on hold for a few weeks whilst we rediscover England and all of those who we have left there. We have not forgotten any of you and can't wait to see you all again!