It's February. The days are longer, the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds and if you're lucky you can go out with just a coat, minus the gloves and beanie that January dictates.
February has brought the end of Term 3 at school (the first term of the new calendar year). At a mere 6 weeks long, it felt a bit cheeky to be taking a week's break, but after missing out on Summer in Australia and plunging into the cold, it was also very welcome. Never one to relax at home for too long, the week was jam packed full of adventures. I raced out of school on the last Friday of term and negotiated the trains into Canary Wharf (no mean feat for the first time by yourself!) and met Pete for a night in town.
We hit the skating rink (in his case literally - oops!), had burgers and ribs for dinner (across from a couple who really needed to get a room), saw where Pete works and spent a lovely night at the Hilton which has its own personal ferry to cross the river! It was a great experience to see where Pete goes to work every day and a great launching place to spend the Saturday at the Tower of London with my lovely friend Jen who I had met on my tour from Adelaide to Darwin, summer 2014.
For someone who has thought about coming to the UK for a long time, I really have not done a lot of research or investigation into what to expect from its key attractions! We took the clipper (river ferry) from the Hilton, under the iconic London Bridge and disembarked at the Tower of London. I was expecting just a tower, so was happily surprised to see it was more like a castle. We had a fantastic tour by a charismatic Beef eater, and lots of laughs and chatting with Jen. It was like a year hadn't passed.
Iceland of course was the highlight of the month, but the our weekly weekend adventures are what make living in the UK so special. We are right on the doorstep of some of the UK's most beautiful scenery, as well as being in the midst of 1066 country (The Battle of Hastings). A short train ride and about a 40 minute walk away is the famous Beachy Head, a series of cliffs similar to the white cliffs of Dover. We had the most stunning of blue and warm days (ok don't get excited, by warm I mean 10 degrees!) for our trek through the country side and were rewarded with green rolling hills and sheer white cliffs dropping to the murky sea below.
As the UK doesn't have the same cafe culture as Melbourne, we celebrated our walk with a half pint at the Beachy Head Pub before catching the bus back to Eastbourne so we could take the train home.
Some of the lovely things about England are...
*How green and lush it is
*That odd pearler of a day where the sky is a shocking shade of blue and the clouds are white and fluffy
*How connected the country is by bus and train (I don't miss driving!)
*The number of walking trails that are beautiful and free to enjoy
*Stumbling across old and ancient buildings when you're out and about exploring
*Seeing places you've read about in books
*Casually booking a week in Ireland or Scotland or a weekend in Belgium like its no biggie
*Unlimited calls and internet in the UK and 11 other countries for $30 a month - bargain
*Having lunch in buildings from the tudor era that are still functioning pubs
Where England doesn't quite stack up to Australia...
*Breakfast out is a bacon sandwich (egg if they remember to put it in) at best - I miss gourmet Melbourne brunches!
*Soy milk (aka soy milk) is few and far between. I think I've managed 1 hot chockie this winter
*The lack of appreciation for the toasted sandwich (what Aussie workplace does not have a toasted sandwich maker in it's kitchen?!)
* $300 TV licenses - we still don't have a TV!
*Supermarkets that close at 4pm on a Sunday
*I've yet to find a bakery that sells fresh bread/pies etc - the ones from the supermarket have worringly long expiry dates and taste of odd things like glycerine - eww
*Peter Andre is still in the magazine headlines - Funky Junky anyone?
Ok so mostly its food that I miss! Anybody want to post me a bowl of artisan bircher muesli with a rhubarb and cinnamon compote topped with natural yoghurt?
With the longer days, our spirits have lifted and the chance to get out and about and experience some sunny days has really been welcoming. As the days get longer we are venturing further and enjoying all of the wonders that East Sussex has to offer.
In February we: Brought the new month in in France, got a bit seasick on a ferry, visited Iceland, didn't see the Northern lights, went to the Tower of London, ice skated on the outdoor rink at Canary Wharf, saw a couple getting way too jiggy for a public restaurant, hiked in the sunshine to Beachy Head, caught up with Jen, patted Murphy the pub dog, listened in on a quiz night and decided it was way too easy to worry about joining in, bought a Burberry coat, enjoyed the sunshine, realised how pale we've both gotten, missed brunch, planned trips to Ireland, Scotland, Belgium & Canada.
Life is looking sunny!
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