WE HAVE ARRIVED
Updated: Jun 23
It’s 4.15 a.m. and for me, the day has already begun. The sky is the softest, palest, grey-blue. Any minute now, the sun will be over that horizon, showing me her morning face. The dawn chorus is tuning up and I’m watching two fat blackbirds, chatting, ready to launch as soon as those first rays streak across the sky.
After months of planning, we are now here in our old home in Teddington, London and I’m happy. I’m drinking a cup of Yorkshire tea and have a little platter of the sweetest, red English strawberries, plump and purple blueberries and fat, juicy raspberries beside me. The trees in the park next door have grown so much and their canopy now so spread, I can no longer see the Thames but I’m watching squirrels in the branches, busily munching on breakfast and taking almighty leaps to the next tree in the hope of more juicy pickings. I may take my tea and sit in my dressing gown, on our old bench seat beside the Thames, and watch the day unfold.
After 30 hours on the go, two long-haul flights and a few hours snatched sleep, we touched down at London Heathrow, at 6 a.m. Covid testing no longer required for departure or arrival made for an easy transition. Finally through with luggage in tow, the doors to the outside world opened and there stood friends, Anne and Bruce, waiting with open arms and a huge Welcome Back. Anne had been so kind and bought some basics to get us started, which included the beloved coffee machine she’d lent me, when we lived here.
Our heads were twisting and turning as Bruce drove, remembering this and that and thinking how lush and green it all looked. Driving into Braemar House was almost surreal. As if we’d never left. Where did those 18 months go, when we’d last stood there, with the rain lashing down and us waving goodbye to our ‘flatmates’? That time dissolved away, and it was just like yesterday when the flats’ front door opened and big Stephen came down the steps with his arms opened wide calling, ‘Darlings! Welcome Home!’ Wrapping me in a bear hug. Small Stephen was two steps behind and we embraced like family. What a wonderful start to our stay. We’ve dinner booked at theirs on Monday night, but for now, they were shouting goodbyes and blowing kisses at us two, hanging out our upstairs window. They’re having the weekend with Big Stephen’s mum in beautiful Bath, for her birthday. These two were so kind and had left flowers at our front door for our arrival.
Bags unpacked, a welcome cup of tea down the hatch, showered and refreshed, we joined the Friday morning throng out in the street, with cars doing the school run or off to walk, and walkers and runners everywhere. Turning the corner, we crossed the Thames Lock bridge, retracing our old steps down the shared pathway for 25 minutes and through to Kingston-upon-Thames to get some groceries and sort out SIM cards. The meadows are up to hip height and the tightly closed wildflower heads, swishing in the gentle breeze, would be bursting open any day now. Trees are in full leaf, in varying shades of citrus, mint and deep greens. The Thames was full of ducks, geese and ballerina swans, gliding or preening and cleaning, on the little jetties. Every one of them creating a chit-chat racket and corralling little ones in close.
It was hot. The sun was out in full and at 10am, mums were already lying about in desultory fashion in Canbury Park, drinking coffee and chatting, while babies were discovering, crawling on the grass. After coffees and a shared almond croissant in the square in Kingston, Steve and I got our bibs and bobs sorted, stopping at the daily fresh market for gorgeous berries, tomatoes that smelt like tomatoes, aged cheese and a rustic baguette for our picnic lunch and bussed home.
Both of us started to wilt after lunch and my head was woozy and full of cotton wool. Setting the alarm, we hit the pillow for two hours to take the edge off our jet-lag. Dressing in something a little nicer, we took the back lanes through to friends, Anne and Richard, sharing a glass of champagne in their beautiful garden and catching up on all their news before sitting down to a delicious supper. Steve is now booked for golf with Richard and gang this afternoon, so he’s a happy chappy.
It was still light at 9.50pm when we strolled home, both reminiscing about the day and how magical it was to be back amongst it all, falling into a deep sleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.
A fabulous first day on our trip down memory lane.