Category Archives: UK

What a difference a decade makes

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Ten years ago today I said good-bye to my family and friends and boarded a plane for the Holy Land. I was about to embark on a journey of life, of discovery, of fear, loathing and love. Ten years on, 3 children, 3 conflicts, 3 homes and a lot poorer I can honestly say that I have some of the best friends I could have ever imagined, I have tasted a life I never would have imagined and I am certainly not the naive small town girl I was back then.

In December 2004 I had been married just 4 months and had lived as a married woman with my husband for 1 week before his visa required he returned to his native land. We had spent the 7 years previous working towards the end goal; marriage, family and a life together in one of our countries.

I arrived to blue skies and bright sunshine, a far cry from the grey, damp, drizzle of the UK and was filled with hope and dreams for our new life together. I was still at the stages of checking my wedding ring finger and admiring the shiny rings. I was excited, but also I was scared. What if I never spoke the language, what if I couldn’t find a job? What if this place was just. too. foreign? It was, not so much now.

Our first few weeks were spent at the apartment of very generous and welcoming friends, sleeping in their spare room and seeing each other every now and then. Husband was, at the time, working as a pastry chef in a newly opened restaurant and that meant long hours, day and night. I was on my own. Luckily our friends lived near Tel Aviv’s large and luscious park and I spent many an afternoon with a book or a journal, marvelling at the sunshine and the parrots and acclimatizing myself to the Middle East. Each morning I rode our friend’s bike to the Ulpan, the Hebrew school for new immigrants (you may remember the comedy of errors that experience was). I met people from around the globe, 1 of which has become a great friend and ally here.

In lieu of my husband the weekends were spent with his friends, one in particular who became my regular date for nights out, coffee shop meetings and cinema trips. Seems like as good a time as any to say thank you, your friendship was and still is invaluable.

We finally found an apartment to rent, close to my newly beloved park and I set about setting up home as a not so smug married. We got a dog, my adored Jesse. We bought furniture and unpacked our belongings from their shipping crates and the first of our UK visitors came to see us in our new life. Once Husband changed jobs his hours became easier and we spent time exploring Tel Aviv, the beach and the benefits of year round sunshine.

There were ups and downs. The language was so hard and the people so aggressive. Many a visit to the supermarket or post office saw me seeking refuge on our balcony, sobbing into Jesse’s fur. But on the up side, Husband and I were finally together, permanently, after our long and international journey. We had a ready-made set of friends from his early army days and I could manage one or two words in Hebrew. We had money in the bank and we wanted to start a family.

A long period of ill-health put paid to the family for a few years but eventually and due to the incredible health system and amazing Doctors here, 4 years later at full health, we welcomed our first child. By this time I was working back in television where I had worked for many years in the UK. Things were on the up. We had a bigger apartment and a wider network of friends including my gorgeous British girlfriends who continue to provide me with laughter and wine and a shoulder to cry on.

By 2010 we were a family of 5. The arrival of twins sent us packing to the suburbs and a child friendly home which is where we reside now. The TV career took a back seat as I faced the challenges of motherhood and three very small people. So now what?

As 2014 comes to a close and I look back on this year and the ten years I have spent here I see that we are on the edge of a new chapter. What that will be, we still don’t know but it seems a fitting time to take stock and count our blessings; our friends, our children, our health and our love for each other that has carried us through the upheaval of moving countries and facing the challenges that a life in Israel brings.

Thank you for your loyal following of my ramblings through 2014 and I’ll see you on the other side, hungover and ready to begin the next stage of the journey.

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The Great Escape

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When I left Israel at the end of July, I left  sirens and explosions, booms and rattling windows. Now I am back. The sirens have stopped, normal life resumes.
I lived in a bubble for 5 weeks, little or no news, only sporadic social media use, a promise to myself not to read the hate or get involved in the arguments about right and wrong in this age old, never ending fight.

Luckily my bubble was full of parental love, family support, old great friends, gin & tonic at 5.30pm and a bedtime of 11pm. Scattered liberally with picnics, chocolate biscuits, fish and chips, roast dinners and ice cream for the kids every single day. Yes it was a bubble but it was a great big happy bubble (with only a few meltdowns on everyone’s behalf – myself included).

 
IMG_2804I re-discovered a friendship, watched as my kid’s started to converse with one another in English and kept busy, really really busy. As I look back I am amazed by the many incredible experiences my childers had. I could write a guide book to keeping small children amused in Cheshire. Bruntwood Park, Lyme Park, Tatton Park, Torkington Park, Bramhall Park. Styal Mill, Walk Mill, not one but two country shows complete with fairground rides and a pony ride. One trip to North Wales to visit relatives and crab off the jetty, a trout fishing expedition resulting in fresh trout for dinner and a ride on a steam train. A hideous trip to Legoland Discovery (the kids loved it), a walk IMG_2876around Salford Quays, a visit to Jodrell Bank and the Manchester Science Museum and number one son went on a night time bat walk (there are more bats in our garden than he saw). Phew. Where did we find the time? And that’s before we mention the camping trip where they pedalloed and kayaked and slept under stormy canvas, over excitement with the cousins, treasure hunts in the garden after tea, building woodland dens and damning streams.

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All this under the shadow of the situation back home that only the adults were aware of.
This wasn’t real life. It was a holiday, an extra long, extra fun holiday – perhaps I was over compensating for my perceived notion of their fear back home. In reality they had no fear, they don’t understand and even when number 1 son saw a rocket being exploded above his head a day before we flew it was my hands that were shaking, not his. His words, ‘why is it a real rocket?’

The coming back is hard.  Coming back is always hard from any holiday – who doesn’t want to escape reality for a prolonged period? The goodbyes are getting harder and harder.  For a moment at the airport I almost said to my mum, ‘I don’t want to go, don’t make me go’, but the truth is that she wasn’t making me go and I am not a child anymore.  My children and my husband need me to act like an adult and accept real life.  If I want to stay in the UK then not getting on a plane after an extended holiday is not the best way to go about it. But what a great holiday, thanks Mum and Pops x

 

 

Where ever I lay my hat?

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It’s a big year chez nous, 2014.  It’s the year that husband turns 40, it’s the year that no. 1 son starts school, it’s the year that we will celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary and it is 10 years this year since I moved to this sometimes not-so holy Holy Land.  How did that happen?  Where did the time go and why after all this time have I still got one foot (and a half) pointing towards home?

Home, where is that?  After all I counted London as home but I lived there only 9 years. While we were travelling I called our tent ‘home’ and I was perfectly happy that we could pick that home up and take it where ever the whim took us.  If home is where the heart is, do I have 2 homes? And more importantly if you have 2 homes do you ever feel truly ‘at home’ in one of them.

This time last year I was 100% going home (to the UK that is).  I was tired of the difficulties of living in a different language, different culture, different religion  I was exhausted.  I was brow beaten and sick of being an outsider.  No longer at the top of my career but instead unable to find work that suited my skills, language or salary expectations.  Most of all I was tired of hearing people say, ‘make more of an effort to settle’, ‘maybe if your Hebrew was better, why don’t you speak it more’, sick of feeling like nothing I did was enough.  Was it all in my head?  Maybe, but I think that as an ex-pat, especially one who moves to a new language and a different culture you always ask yourself, ‘do I fit in?’ followed quickly in my case with ‘why should I have to?’.

So what now?  It’s 2014, a New Year.  Has anything changed?  Honestly I don’t know.  As in the previous 9 years I have good weeks and bad weeks, good days and bad days although the bad is less in occurrence and in intensity. I feel at home here although it is not, nor do I think it will ever be, ‘home’.  I hope to go back some day, whether it’s in 2014 or in a box in the hold of an aeroplane.  If someone would wave a magic wand or give me a winning lottery ticket to set us up in the UK for a couple of years to see how we would like it, I’d go in a shot.  But it’s not just about me.  It’s about my lovely husband who would go where ever I wished if it made me happy (even though he would not really want to go).  It’s about my children, my Israeli children who, like it or not only know this as home and speak to me and each other in a language that I often don’t understand.  As they get older the move gets more difficult, and the looming start of school underlines that fact.

Over on a blog I follow, Expatriate Life,  Judy has often talked about repatriation, about the challenges of repatriating after time away and I think it is this repatriation fear that stopped me from packing our bags and running this time last year.  Really, what do I know about the UK now.  Have I perhaps become too Israeli for England but too English for Israel?  Only time will tell as yet again we write our pros and cons list, we look for options were we to move back.  The key, I think, is no regrets, no looking back in anger, no what ifs or maybe.  When all is said and done as long as our family is together we are home.

Wake me up when September ends

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IMG_0985After almost 2 weeks in the UK, husband arrived to spend the last week with us.  He kept asking, ‘how does England look to you’.  My answer was always the same, ‘green’.  Israel is now shrouded in heat haze with dusty roads and fields, sandy and burnt, so England was like a lush paradise in comparison.  I was told by just about everyone that they’d had fantastic weather but as it was raining when we landed and the gardens and fields were the green that only regular rainfall produces I figured ‘fantastic’ was sunshine and showers.  On leaving the airport no. 1 son shouted, ‘I told you it would be raining’.  Having not seen rain for many many months the kids thought it was great and revelled in donning wellie boots and coats to splash in muddy puddles.  To be fair we were lucky in that no one day was wall to wall grey skies and constant downpours.  We were never housebound as a result of the wet and that to me is indeed ‘fantastic’ weather.

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I have since considered hubby’s question about how I saw England on this trip and I realised that after almost 10 years in Israel I now see England through the eyes of an outsider.

Here are my top ten things to appreciate in the UK as a visitor or as a visiting ex pat:

1. The sound of church bells – nothing to do with religion but to me quintessentially English.

conway2. Fish and chips – as a resident Brit I never ate them, now I can’t think of anything tastier, especially when sitting on a quayside enjoying the sun.

3. Supermarkets – what choice, what prices, be still my beating heart and fight to keep the wallet in the bag.  Israel is so much more expensive in terms of consumer goods and the choice is limited so a trip to Tesco was heaven (especially when converting from shekel to pound)

4. Friendly service – shops, cafes, bars, National Trust staff (we met a lot of them),all so chatty and friendly.

5. People letting you pull out when indicating in the car and waving thank you when you do the same.  A–M-A-Z-I-N-G.

6. Booze.  Every social occasion involves booze.  This is not a complaint, a 5pm G & T with my old pops and a few glasses of vino with friends and family is always a winner in my view.  However what I didn’t bank on was my lack of resilience and the feeling of being more than a little under par first thing the next morning.

7. Following on with the booze theme – pubs and pub gardens: child friendly, day light throughout the evening and who doesn’t love bitter shandy?

0608. Fish fingers – kids loved them, I love them, why oh why don’t they have Birds Eye here?

9. CBeebies closing at 7pm.  Does that mean the childers go to bed at 7.30pm?  YES THEY DO – not that mine did (it was holiday time) but as I am slightly out of sync with most Israeli parents who put their kids to bed around 9pm I was happy to discover my 7.30pm rule is not mine alone.

10. Calm, a feeling of safety.  Partly because in my little corner of Cheshire I feel safe and the UK in general does not have the frenetic energy of the stressed and worried that often becomes the norm here, and partly because one can never feel 100% safe in Israel – especially at the moment.

So why do I want to sleep through September?  I am back and surprisingly not sinking into homesickness but Israel is still hot and as humid as the seventh circle, there is an ‘outbreak’ or not (depending on who you listen to) of polio, oh and Assad is threatening to bomb us if the US bomb them.  Back to normal then.  The heart racing, lump in the throat fear that pops up most unexpectedly when the words ‘gas masks’ are banded about.  Finally and perhaps weirdly, September is holiday season – Rosh Hashanah is firing us off this week into a month long holiday bonanza. Having survived happily with the childers being with me 24/7 in the cool UK for the past 3 weeks they went back to nursery and pre-school at the end of last week only to break up again on Tuesday.  Oh purlease – less than a week and it’s time for another holiday? In this weather!! I am hoping for a 10 degree temperature drop, peace in the region and a Shana Tova (Happy New Year) for everyone.

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Looks like we made it

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Note to self: do not get on a budget airline with a 5 year old and two almost 3 year olds again unless you are a) desperate b) guaranteed two rows of seats c) drunk/on prozac and with a ready supply of top ups for a 6 hour flight.  Actually make that 8 hours if you add the 2 hour delay.  I was not impressed with Jet2’s generous, “apologies for the short delay” at the end of our flight when I was borderline sobbing from exhaustion.

The most important thing is that we made it, we are now safely ensconced in the loving warmth of my family in a slightly damp part of the UK.  Gone is the terrible 80% humidity and 35 degree temperatures of Tel Aviv, for the next couple of weeks at least.

To be honest the flight, which I had been dreading to the point of denial since I booked to bring the childers alone for the summer hols, was better than expected.  Apart from a short period of complete over excitement from number 1 son and a slightly hysterical moment when I couldn’t spot no. 2 son in the departure lounge it was really only the terrible boredom and discomfort of 6 hours in the air with 3 little ones that had me verging on hysteria by the time we landed.

Here are some of my top tips for travelling by air with multiple small children: 

– dress them in the same coloured t shirts for easy distinction in a busy airport

– bring the small shoulder pouches their Israeli grandmother made them and stuffed with distracting crayons, plasticine, miniature notebooks, stickers, puzzle books and tiny toys.  It’s a genius idea that kept them busy for at least 45 minutes (which sounds like a little but it was 45 minutes I wasn’t juggling/entertaining them)

– Food – in small packages that takes time to open as well as eat.

– Pull up nappies – despite spending at least 1/6 of the flight at the toilet (3 small children all needing the loo at different times results in a lot of door holding and hand washing), I put the little ones in nappies rather than carry a billion changes of just in case clothes.

– Wipes – where would a mother be without environmentally unfriendly wipes?

– Water – don’t dare ask the cabin crew for a drink of water each time your child requests one.  Jet2 cabin crew on the whole aren’t a happy bunch, (although a couple on our flight were thankfully the exception) so pressing the call button at any stage is inadvisable.

– Check the DVD player is charged and NOT LEFT ON when you leave the house.  If you make the effort to carry a DVD player plus DVDs thereby taking up half your carry on luggage you should at least be sure it will work. Doh.

– Make sure you can work the borrowed laptop you are using as another form of children’s entertainment.

– Make sure the earphones you have brought for the children’s entertainment work.

– Make sure that if you have messed up all electronic forms of entertainment that YOU  are armed with a few thousand talents to ensure peace for your fellow passengers.

– Wear shoulder pads and a cushion in your trousers.  This helps protect you when one son falls asleep across 11/2 of your 3 chairs and you and the twins share a chair and a half between you (because no-one wants to sit on the 1 remaining seat on the other side of the aisle)

– Make friends with your fellow passengers.  You WILL need their help and you don’t want their hindrance (thank you to the lovely extended family sitting near me.) 

– Make friends with the cabin crew, even if it means talking through gritted teeth – why are they so grumpy?  Having befriended the lovely Ryan on our flight he let myself and the twins hang out in the galley for a much needed change of scene.

– Breathe.  Sometimes its easy to forget and hyperventilation at altitude with 3 dependents is inadvisable.

So, we made it, here we are.  I am very very happy to be home and even happier that I will be doing the return journey with my husband.  Phew.

 

 

Sentimental Journey

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Today is Father’s Day in the UK and it would be a bit remiss of me not to dedicate today’s ramblings to my Pops.  This year Pops is celebrating his 75th birthday which I can hardly get my head around so I’ve no idea how he is taking it.  He is blessed so far with good health and all his faculties intact (not counting the loss of hearing in 1 ear).You will however know from previous posts he is definitely way more grumpy than he used to be – or maybe I just didn’t know him as well when we lived in the same house as I know him now.  Rather ironic that now we live a 6 hour flight away from each other our timetogether can certainly count as ‘quality’ time’.  This is opposed to when we lived in the UK and I would hop back at weekends and the parents were just 2 on a long list of people to see.  I sent him a card which miraculously (through the joys of Moonpig.co.uk) arrived in time and I told them to go out for a pub lunch today to celebrate.  After I hung up I thought that perhaps it would not be fun to be in a pub full of families celebrating together, just the 2 of them, with their family scattered across the country and the globe.   We are there in spirit and as I told him this morning the Israeli crew will be doing everything we can to come back in the summer to celebrate his 75th with him.

A good friend recently reminded me of the importance of not missing celebrations and milestones with loved ones.  Life is short and memories can only be made in that short time. I have already missed so many events because of money or time or simply because I live too far away.  So it was this piece of advice plus the never fading homesickness that has sent me onto the internet to try to find a flight that will get us back to the grey skies of Manchester this August.  I can’t think of anything nicer.

I also want to extend today’s UK Dad celebrations to my own kid’s Dad aka Aba aka husband.  There is no specific Father’s Day in Israel, there’s a Family day but it’s really not the same.  As someone who shirks all kinds of celebrations, especially his own birthday, I will not be splashing out on a present or even a card – he puts them back in the envelope and leaves them on a shelf (what’s that all about?). On the vague chance he figures out how to open a computer and read this I want to tell him thanks, on behalf of the childers and from me.  There is not a child in the world who would not be lucky to have a father like him; ever patient, interested, kind, loving.

So for fear of slipping into soppy sentiment…oops too late, Happy Father’s Day to all Dads, here and departed. If you are as lucky as I am, take my friend’s advice too. Don’t miss a moment, life is too short.

Si Si San Miguel

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When I think of expats I think white vests strained over burnt bellies sipping San Miguel in an English caff in the Costa Del Sol. Definitely not the reality of the millions living away from their birth country for most expats.
Flag_of_Israel These days so many Brits seem to be intent on leaving Britain with its rain and recession or have already made the leap to a new life; I have as many British friends scattered around the globe as I have left in Britain.  But why?  Is Britain today so bad? I watch A Place in the Sun Home or Away and yell at the TV “Don’t do it”; don’t think because it’s sunny and you can buy cheap run down property that your life is going to magically become a Disney movie. Or maybe that’s just me, or the place I chose to live. No nuclear threat in Disney, right?
Soon my neighbourhood is closing down for an evening to do a missile attack training exercise. Oh yes we will be going through the motions of what to do if/when we have a 2 minute warning to get somewhere safe. (If I remember my reading of Z for Zacariah in High School, no safe room is going to save us). Armed with pamphlets, gas masks and jolly faces for the childers we will be doing a dummy run for the unimaginably possible. Although one half of me is considering doing a runner to a friend’s house out of my area, the other half is thinking we should really be prepared. But how do you explain it to a 4-year-old and 2 x 2 year olds? Hmmm. Must try to refit the bomb proof door back on our in-house bomb shelter.
Since day 1 I have had a love/hate relationship with Israel. It’s got so many benefits; the weather, the outdoor living, the beach, desert and mountains, the child friendly family oriented culture, the can-do attitude and the fresh, dynamic perspective to life. Of course if you’re Jewish it comes with a billion other benefits.  However the downsides to living in Israel are in a class of their own:
Always being the bad guy no matter what the truth
Living under threat
Being surrounded by difficult neighbours
Not an island but no way out except by plane (or a really long booze cruise to Cyprus)
New language (to me at least) – new alphabet and back to front (to me).
Its not just the books but even some of the doors to fridges, washing machines, rooms, open back to front (to me)
The lack of savlanoot
Having said all that Israel has been my home for the past 8 years. My children were born here, many of my friends are here, our home and life, not to mention the mundane bank accounts, insurance policies, health care etc is here. So when I am reminded with a bang of all the bad stuff in the form of a leaflet handed to me in the park by a soldier, outlining our missile training, it makes me wonder if I am up to the challenges of living here. It ain’t easy. Maybe a bit (OK a lot) of rain is better.
Recently in a store at 9.30 on a Friday night I met a 19-year-old buying a packet of Turkish coffee (or botz as it’s called here), he asked for a spoon and some cups because him and his mate were heading down to the beach to hang out for the evening where they would cook their coffee on their camping gas and pass the time. That in a nutshell is what I love about Israel; no 20 pints and a kebab, no hair gel and pant revealing skinny jeans, just  knowing at 19 how to enjoy the simple life. Pas me a  San Miguel, I’ll get my gas mask.

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Jiggety Jog

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As the plane touches down in Israel, especially if you fly with Israel’s airline, the passengers applaud.  The first time I heard it was the first time I visited in Israel way back in the late 90’s and I figured I’d missed something – we were about to crash and the pilot had saved us? – in fact it’s for a much more heart warming reason.  People are just happy to be here.  For many, coming to Israel is a homecoming in the spiritual and the literal sense.  Not only for the Israelis coming home but for the thousands of Jews visiting the Jewish homeland, the Christians coming on a pilgrimage and the tourists who come to visit one of the most hotly debated yet arguably one of the most religious country in the world – for the 3 largest religions.

As I looked around the plane last night I saw just what a big deal it was for many of my fellow passengers.  Hasidic Jews alongside nuns, a couple of priests, an elderly group of Christians and a group of Jewish teenagers from the States on their first visit.  Amongst the business passengers and the visitors coming to their holiday homes there were many who were experiencing the awe you cannot help but feel when you first come here – infamous, historical, Holy; some people dream of praying at the Western Wall, attending worship on the shores of the Galilee.  To them a trip here is a lifetime goal.

Not so much for me, my emotions were somewhat mixed;  I was beyond excited about being back with my husband and children again having left them all for the first time on a trip to my particular homeland,  however,  to come back to the everyday stresses of living here after a whirlwind 4 days of ease; seeing friends and family, talking to people without concentrating, was hard.

As an ex-pat I am caught between the dream and promise of a new life and the reality of being the outsider, the dream of going home to my extended family where everything is familiar and the reality (in my case) of cold, grey weather and double dip recession.

I didn’t applaud when I landed but when my three little ones ran towards me in arrivals with I Love You balloons and screams of ‘where are our presents’ (in Hebrew) I did wipe away a little tear of happiness.  Home again, home again jiggety jog.

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Homeward Bound

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Youth is a state of mind.  I know you know that but it’s taken me a while to see it.  It doesn’t matter how you look (although it helps), it doesn’t matter if you are married, single, divorced, have kids, not have kids.  Its all in your head, or maybe just mine.

You may not want to be 16 or 26 again but wouldn’t it be nice to have that feeling of youth?  That ‘I want to dance and even if I look stupid it doesn’t matter’ feeling.  Maybe you have it.  I categorically don’t.  Recently I was at a gig – I even feel old saying that word.  It was a small affair in a small venue and the age group was predominantly under 30.  I spotted a number of ‘I am young and I don’t care’ outfits; the patchwork flowery waistcoat (on a male) gave it away, the smell coming from some energetic dancers was also a telling sign, the fact that they were dancing at all was evidence enough;  I shuffle, if I’m pushed (literally) or sense I look more conspicuous if I keep still.

I am trying to pinpoint the time when I lost the ability to  throw shapes on a dance floor just for the madonnasheer enjoyment of it.  Once in an outdoor nightclub in Turkey I remember dancing to Beyonce with a feeling of utter joy – I was certainly crazy right then – I didn’t give a hoot who saw me or how terrible my dancing was.  I was young, I was on holiday and I simply didn’t care.  I wonder if that’s how Madonna feels all the time.  What other reason could she have for flashing her bits on stage or wearing high cut leotards at 54?  oh yes she’s Madonna.

The question therefore has to be how do I get it back – not that I am planning on wearing a leotard any time soon.  I know people older than me who act and feel young.  I know younger people than me who act and feel old.   Perhaps the responsibility that comes with age is the reason and waistcoat wearing stinky dancers at gigs just haven’t got to the stage of  responsibility yet.  

ozricI will soon be away from my usual responsibilities of life, alone in my old home town with old friends.  Will I catch a glimpse of the young me and be able to harness it and bring it back to real life? We’ll see.  Lets hope I don’t stop washing and buy some suspect Ozric Tentacles waistcoat in Camden Market whilst I am away in a flush of re(un)discovered youth.

This will be the first time in 5 years I have been back and I am getting nervous – can you tell?  I’m not sure why, apart from the obvious fear of not knowing my way around the tube or getting lost in Soho.  Possibly the real fear is that everything will have changed and I am subconsciously expecting it all to feel the same.  The UK is not the country it was 8 years ago when I left, nor is London the same city I knew and loved.  However some of the people I love are there and changed or not I can’t wait to see them.  I may feel older but I am also wiser and some reminiscing over a glass of wine (no pints of Stella for me these days) could well be just the ticket to rediscovering the feeling of youth.  London here I come.

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The White White Snow of Home

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If you’re an ex pat or if you just like a bit of self-pity every now and then, I have a brilliant way to really wallow in your homesickness/sadness.  It involves downloading Google Earth and re-visiting your previous homes, schools, work places.  In fact anywhere that brings back happy memories.  If you really want to feel sad look up the old addresses of your long dead grandparents.  Preferably the houses that you spent lazy hazy summer days as children.  Just a glimpse at that rose garden or the rusty swing set should have you welling up. You can’t beat a bit of misery and self-absorption every now and then.  Go on, try it, you’re tempted as you roll your eyes.

Expats by definition live in limbo; always wondering if it’s better back where you came from.  Memories weed out reality and real life is all reality and no dreamy memories.

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snowCase in point: As my old home is blanketed in snow I am looking out at blue sky and palm trees and yet I am longing for home.  Everyone in the UK is dreaming of blue skies and I fancy some shivering, wet white stuff.  I must be mad, or living in Israel, or both.