So our first 2 weeks in August were spent at home in the UK. It was an opportunity to see friends and family whilst also getting ready for the coming year in China.
In order to get our visas for China we had to go to the Chinese embassy in London. We had attempted to get our visas before leaving the UK but were not aware of how complicated the process is! If you know exactly what you are doing, can navigate the website and read all the fine print then it will go smoothly. The first time we didn’t do this though so hence we were back trying it all again only 4 weeks before our arrival!
It was so lovely to spend 3 days in London with our friends Sam & Robin whilst waiting for our visas. We didn’t do much as we had just flown back from Hong Kong so were pretty exhausted but we did manage a couple of jogs around the local park, a visit to Greenwich Park and a trip to Mercato Metropolitano (which we would recommend).
Our top tip for hopping time zones after long-haul flights is to straight off force yourself to sleep at night for the time zone you’re entering. We got to our friends at 11pm and had our appointment at the Chinese embassy at 9am the next morning so had to be up at 6:30. This may sound ridiculous timing but actually it got us straight back into the time zone which really helped. We didn’t nap that first day either!
We then headed to the South coast to visit Matt’s family. Matts sister and her boyfriend took us on a tour of the Isle of Wight as I hadn’t been since being a toddler. We enjoyed Tennyson down and the Needles. It has been an incredibly hot summer in the UK and so we enjoyed a trip to Compton Bay beach and even braved swimming in the sea! By British standards it was great but after swimming in the Indian Ocean for the past 5 months it felt a little chilly!
We took the opportunity to visit Matt’s dad’s memorial bench whilst in Portsmouth as well. It was lovely to spend time with his family, catch up with them and tell them about our adventures.
After 5 days on the south coast it was time to visit friends in Leicester. We are so grateful to our friends Luke, Tabz and Adeline for putting us up for 2 nights! We made the most of being back in Leicester by getting fish and chips from Grimsby Fisheries and ice cream from Gelato Village.
Thanks to all our old colleagues for letting us interrupt your working days to say hello and catch up!
Quite a few of our friends from Leicester were actually near Buxton in the Peak District so Friday night was a train ride up to the peaks and back to see them all. Thank you to our friend James for taxiing us to and from the train station! It was so nice to be back in the peaks even for just an evening to see everyone.
We also got to meet a new addition to our friends family! Congratulations to Katie and Ben! We loved meeting 5 day old George! Eliza makes an excellent big sister!
After over a week back on UK soil I then finally got to see my family! We celebrated my dad’s birthday by having a family outing to Yorkshire Wildlife park. The kids loved it despite a couple of rain downpours!
An overnight trip to Nottingham meant Matt and I could pop into the Brewdog there for some good beer! That night we were put up by my friends Sally & Emma for a BBQ and catch up with more ex-colleagues.
My parents treated Matt to a champagne breakfast as an early birthday present as we will have just arrived in China on his actual birthday. We definitely didn’t want for food after that! It was amazing food but we were very full!
We had one final visit to Southwell to visit Anna, Paddy and Matilda. A trip to the Old Theatre Deli meant for more delicious snacks after our champagne breakfast whilst catching up!
Then we seriously needed to pack before beginning the journey with my family to Lac D’Annecy!
We loved seeing everyone but it was definitely more emotional leaving this time knowing it will likely be a full year before we see everyone again. We also finished the 2 weeks feeling pretty exhausted having not spent more than 2 nights in the same bed for most of it!