Thursday, April 17, 2014

Yorkshire Revisited

You may have noticed it has been a while since my last post.  You may even have been worried I had come to some harm.  But fear not, I think I just had a case of writer's block.  Or more literally, blogger's block.  I seem to have now gone the other way and have written what is perhaps my longest blog ever.

In truth, it has been a very busy few weeks, much of what I'll cover in the next couple of posts.  Those of you tuning in, eagerly hoping to hear of the exploits of Ma Cormack on her antipodean adventure will be disappointed.  This blog will be to recap on my trip back to the UK and thus, the "Mary in Mosman" blog will follow in a few weeks.

So the end of February saw me jetting back to the homeland.  The primary objective being to escort mum back to Sydney with me.  An expat's life and location can be very precarious and I figured that if mum was ever gonna see the land down under, I would have to go and literally bring her.  I once worked in Dublin for 18 months, a 40-minute flight away, and she never got across the water.  So I was determined to get her Australia passport stamp!

The timing couldn't have been better, with my 1-year contract at work expiring at the end of February, and me flying to England the next day.  With luck (scratches head and wonders if this is the right word), and maybe a smidgen of hard work, I had secured a further 1-year contract at the same bank, on the proviso that my current trip stood and I could have a month unpaid leave.  A well documented hand-over to my hard working team (just in case they are reading) and I was off, knowing everything was in safe hands 'til I returned in April-ish.

Leaving Sydney did feel very strange.  A much different feeling to when I went home last year.  I suppose I was mentally in a very different place last year and wasn't sure if it was the start of the end of my Australian odyssey.  A year on and things are very different.  I felt like I was leaving home, to go home.  As a good friend reminded me at the time, "we are lucky now, we have two beautiful homes".  And he is right.

Returning to Yorkshire again reminded me of why it is one of the most beautiful places I have been to in the world.  And I have been to a few.  I'm not sure there are many places that compare.  Where folk actually talk proper.  And without getting too sentimental, although it seems to be happening more as I get older, I have the best group of friends and family a person could wish for.  Maybe an eclectic, diverse set of friends.  And a hectic, on the edge of crazy, family.  But I wouldn't change any of them for the world.  You guys are what make my trips.

Every day I was reminded of the importance of keeping your special friends in your life.  And how those bonds grow stronger despite the distance between us.  It may sound ironic coming from me, the guy who upped and left, all alone, as far away as he could possibly go, yet I have never lost touch with people.  A phone call here, postcard there.  And what we would do without FaceTime and Skype these days?  My Easter got off to the best possible start with a call from home this morning.

I only had a couple of weeks at home, not really long enough to do everything I would like, but long enough to do many of the things I like.  Need I mention the food?  Those with a keen eye for detail will already know I have an obsession with fish & chips.  And not the very inferior version I can get here in Australia.  But I mean real, proper fish & chips, wi’ bits and curry sauce.  A pot of tea and slice of bread on the side.  Fellow diners in Blakeley’s of Brighouse may have thought I had just been released from a long stint in prison, at the rate I devoured my plate.  Now THAT is what I am talking about.

Of course curries featured highly in my “diet”, as did Yorkshire puddings, and the now annual lamb dinner.  Thanks sis, what a great day that was, even though I did end up driving and chauffeuring the more inebriated amongst us home.

Service at some of the eating establishments did baffle me, at times leaving me creased over laughing at the sheer absurdity of it.  On one very memorable morning I thought we had wandered into Fawlty Towers, and I kept waiting for Manuel to pop out.  Breakfasts were ordered, and arrived, upon which I thought, “hmm, quite an expensive breakfast to only receive 1 slice of toast”.  The waiter then proceeded to tell us that more toast was on the way, it was in the toaster! 

Now, I have not spent much time in the hospitality industry, but wouldn’t you wait until ALL the toast was ready, and THEN bring out the breakfasts? 

It got better.  I asked for some brown sauce, and he promptly returned with some, in a coffee cup!!!!  Have you ever seen the like?  The morning’s shenanigans didn’t end there.  Half way through munching my toast, another young chap who worked there, approached me at the table, with a half eaten cake in a box, and said, “before you forget sir, your cake”.  By this point I had fallen off my chair laughing.  Just WHO did he think I was?  And why would I have a half eaten cake in his restaurant?  Good grief, I said take me home.  There is only so much fun somebody can have in one morning.

One morning I definitely was not laughing was following a fantastic night out in Leeds.  One in which catching the last train home was the target.  The last train was at 11.20pm.  It didn’t happen.  Even with the female contingent bringing their posh handbags (which supposedly means they couldn’t POSSIBLY stay out late). 

Cue a very funny night, finished by drinking England’s supply of champagne, coupled with some bizarre concoction that my sister insisted on adding to each drink.  I think it may have been slightly off, maybe out of date, as I think that is why I was so ill the following day.  Then again, getting a lift home off my sister, who took a speed bump so fast I thought we wouldn’t land until we hit Sydney, could have precipitated my downfall.

I was so green I could have hidden in a bowl of peas.  And once getting in my own car, my attempt at the same said speed bump was hilarious.  Trying to protect my delicate head, I rolled up to the bump so slowly that I didn’t get over it.  I just hit it, and the car rolled backwards.  It was going to be a VERY long day.

There are many other memories from that trip, way too many to cover in what has now become a very long post.  I hope you are still with me.  But needless to say, I had an amazing time, even saw a beautiful part of Yorkshire I hadn’t been to before, and had some amazing food.  Thank you.  Even if I won’t be adding Ripon to my list of “must see” places next time.

The usual heartfelt goodbyes signalled the end of this trip, not really knowing when I will next be in the country.  So there is nothing else for it, it's time to come the other way, to me.  Get planning.  Sydney awaits.

Well, once more, like my brief trip home, it is now time to wrap it up folks.  I have to dash.  I have a Pannini football World Cup sticker album to try and find.  

Anyone for swapsies?

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