So – guess what? We are in London!
It has been fantastic so far – the weather has been unexpectedly gorgeous, and several lovely things have happened. But, all in good time – if I may, I will rewind just a week or so.
After saying our goodbyes to everyone at The Village, we packed up and flew out of Phuket into Singapore, where we were to spend an afternoon picking up our suitcases from Alex’s office and generally having a last little Asia fix before getting on our plane to London at 11.30pm that evening.
Leaving Phuket was very difficult – speeding away from the Island on the boat for the last time in a little while was quite heartbreaking, and Benjy, Stu and Scotty running Baywatch-style down the beach after the boat did little to assuage our sadness.
However, we were excited to get back to Singapore for the afternoon, and even more excited to get to London and see all our friends and family!
After an irritatingly delayed flight (thank you very much, Tiger Airways) full of very unhappy screaming babies, we were extremely pleased to arrive at Changi. Alex went straight to the office to get our suitcases and sort out some paperwork, and I very happily stayed in the cab and headed to our favourite hotel in Singapore, The Scarlet.
Now, I know I have gone on a bit about The Scarlet before, but it really is a wonderful place. And this time, they really did us proud.
The lovely manager, Henry, incredibly kindly arranged a room for us for the afternoon and evening, so that we had somewhere to put our bags, and shower and change before the flight. I cannot stress how much of a difference this made to us – it was so good to have a temporary base to put our things between flights, and the room he gave us was absolutely beautiful, as all the room as The Scarlet are.
After dumping our bags, I headed up to the Scarlet’s rooftop bar, Breeze, to have a cocktail, and to meet Nick Brown who had told us he would be there.
Imagine my delight when I stepped onto the rooftop and was greeted by a smiling waitress, who guided me over to a secluded table in the corner….which was filled with our friends!
TV Girl, The Banker, Banker’s Wife, PR Bunny, The German, his lovely French Girlfriend, and of course good old Nick Brown – what a lovely treat.
Alex arrived before long, and we all sat and had a few drinks and chatted and, before we knew it, it was suddenly an hour before we had to leave for our flight! Feeling very sad indeed, we said our goodbyes to our friends for some time – and had just enough time to snap a quick last picture of the ladies on the rooftop!
We then returned back to the room to shower and change and re-pack our suitcases as best we could, and then the porter knocked on our door and told us that it was time to leave.
We sat outside and waited for the cab – Barney, my (purely decorative) stuffed hippo which is my pet as Alex will not let me get a real pet, had a great time riding the baggage trolleys:
At Changi for the final time, we headed through passport control, had just enough time to grab a little duty free and a sandwich for the plane (I have sworn off plane food for life*) and before we knew it, we were on our way to London!
* Little known actual scientific fact: all food served on planes is actually just dust mixed with water, dyed and fashioned into the shape of real food. This is true)
The flight was very good – comfortable, quiet, and with very friendly attendants.
After months of flying only short haul with Air Asia and Tiger, it was such a treat to fly long haul with a crew who really knew what they were doing (well done, Quantas!)
So – 5.30am local time the following morning, we stepped off the plane, onto English soil once again, and were greeted by…SUNSHINE!
This was NOT what we were expecting.
A lot of expatriates seem to develop a habit of English weather-bashing as a homesickness coping mechanism. This had affected us to such an extent that we were fully expecting grey drizzle and biting winds – so imagine our utter delight when we stepped out into one of the most beautiful English springs we had seen in a very long time!
As we headed into Central London, we felt like tourists. The sun was shining, everything looked glorious, and as we reached our hotel in South Kensington we felt even happier, because it was absolutely gorgeous!
This was to be our home for the next few weeks until we found a flat, so we were hoping that we would like it, but I was so pleased with our choice when we saw it in the flesh.
This place was a true English home-from-home hotel. It’s a small, boutiquey place (smaller than The Scarlet in Singapore) and housed in two beautiful adjoining Georgian townhouses that have been knocked into one.
The staff were so friendly and welcoming and can’t do enough to help, and the room was beautiful – lovely and light, with a gorgeous old antique half-tester canopy bed!
After I had unpacked (poor old Alex had zoomed off to the office by this point!) I jumped in a cab and head across town to the City to go and have brunch with my Daddy.
On the way, still in tourist mode, I was snapping pictures left, right and centre from the back of the cab – everything was so beautiful!
We went past Westminster Abbey where I was stunned to see a huge line of people waiting to go in. My cab driver told me that this was because the big trees were still up in the aisle from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding – it was so exciting to see how many people wanted to go inside and have a look before they were taken down!
Once in the City, Daddy met me and took me to Carluccio’s for brunch, where we indulged in lovely coffee, and I had a beautiful French bean salad that felt like luxury simply by virtue of not being noodles. (I am sure that I will have noodle cravings before long, but for now I fully intend on embracing the best of Western food once more)
The rest of the week passed very quickly and was so lovely – Kitty and I were reunited in Henry J Beans on the King’s Road amidst rather a lot of wine, and I swore never to leave again.
We caught up with the fantastic Kat Brown who was, as ever, looking well and happy, and have generally just enjoyed being back in England again!
We also spent a wonderful first weekend back at Alex’s parents’ house in Emsworth. Emsworth is a beautiful little town on the south coast, near Chichester, and was a great place to go for our first weekend back because it is about as English as you can get.
(Photo courtesy of The Jingles, Emsworth)
We also had a fabulous Sunday roast courtesy of Alex’s mother, and snooze on the sofa for a little bit – bliss!
Then, on Monday, when we got back from Emsworth, I headed down to the other side of the south coast to Kent to see my mummy in Faversham!
Faversham was gorgeous – mummy’s garden was particularly enjoying the beautiful weather…
….as was the cat:
My long-anticipated reunion with the beautiful Jessica Rabbit wasn’t quite as I had envisaged (she looked like she couldn’t care less that I was back or not!) but it was lovely to have a cuddle with her all the same, and she was looking beautiful as always.
Finally, guess what? We’ve found a flat!
After just one day of looking, the fantastic Chris at Hastings International (clearly the best Estate Agent in London) found us the perfect home.
It’s in a beautiful little mews just off Borough High Street by London Bridge, literally thirty seconds walk from Borough Market and Alex’s favourite restaurant in London, Café Brindisa. So he’s happy.
I am happy because it is a converted warehouse in our favourite bit of London and it has beams, all things which make me smile. It also has two lovely big bedrooms, so hopefully all our friends in Singapore can come and stay (ahem…one at a time, perhaps).
In closing – we are both happy, safe, relaxed, and very excited about all our things arriving from Singapore, and about the next few months in general.
This summer is going to be a good one.
Lots and lots of love,