This period feels a little odd. We've been back in the UK for just over two weeks now, and already the sights and sounds of Riyadh are beginning to fade into background memory, but the friends we left behind remain in our thoughts. The four of us are living in a flat made for two, but it's just for a few weeks then we move again. Some of our stuff (too much actually) is with us, making the flat look and feel even smaller, some of it is at Karen's Mum's, and the rest is bobbing along on an ocean somewhere, to be delivered to our new flat in the New Year.
So while we're settling into routines and picking up old habits, it doesn't really feel like home. The weather is wintry, which is bad because I'm cold, but it's also good for the same reason. This has always been my favourite time of year in England: I like the frost and the snow (when we can get it), the dark afternoons, and the need to wrap up in several additional layers before going out makes coming home again all the more comforting.
My wallet seems to be haemorr.... hemmmoorrrag... bleeding money. I think a recalibration of our Spend-O-Meter is definitely on the cards. But after Christmas, eh? The other thing that's a bit of a mess right now is that the more we re-install ourselves in the Rat Race, the more organizations want to know where we live. Lettings agents, motor insurance companies, websites, and so on, but which address to give? The FCO one's no good, because that mail would go to Riyadh. Don't really want to give out the address where we are at the moment because that's only valid for another four weeks, and we can't yet give out our new permanent address because we haven't signed the contract yet. There's always our previous UK address, of the house in Langley that we still own and are renting out (that's another story!). So of course I end up giving each company a different one, depending on what they need it for and whether I care if I get mail from them.
We saw the best and worst of England standing shoulder to shoulder last night. My Dad and the rest of the Royal Free Singers gave a concert of Christmas music in a church in Windsor. It was an enjoyable, civilised evening; we all had a good sing-along and a mince pie, and the choir performed a carol of my Dad's own composition, so that made the evening even more special for us. When we stepped out of the church afterwards our attention was immediately grabbed by the scene across the street. A large bar, whose young crowd had spilled noisily onto the street for a smoke. The lads with their shirts hanging out, and the girls wearing skirts that went higher than their bare legs, the only coats in sight worn by the dozen or so police officers standing watch by their white van, ready to cart troublemakers off to the cells if it "kicks off". We walked briskly past the crowd, trying to minimise the children's exposure to the f***ing expletive-peppered conversations they were all f***ing having.
We got home to a flat so warm my glasses steamed up in the hall, peeled off our scarves, gloves and coats, drew the curtains and bolted the door. Ah, that's better.