So, occasionally expat life sucks because it means living far from family and friends. In my case, it now involves living one million miles away from two of my own kids as well, however, I was lucky enough to be in England for the past week and boy, it was fun. In amongst the crazy shopping goals that I had set for myself, there were some really special moments that I hope I will not forget too quickly.
- It was incredibly special to go for mini a girls’ night out to celebrate my daughter’s birthday along with my mum and my eldest. Opening presents in a restaurant where, at the end, waiters and waitresses surprised us with a happy birthday song and a big candle to blow out (in remarkably Kenyan style as they dimmed the lights then processed through the seating area singing and playing tambourines).
- I enjoyed following my sister to watch my niece play in a hockey match and being met by the same sister at the airport the day before so we chatted all the way home. She was pretty good about me struggling on the motorway with the manual hire car that I’d just picked up, where I couldn’t see how many gears I had because it was too dark. Driving in the dark is not a great skill of mine, since I rarely ever do it in Nairobi.
- Picking up fallen apples with my 3 nieces who were wrapped in anoraks in my mum’s garden just as the light was fading.
- An impromptu meeting with an old school friend who I haven’t seen for 30 years!! (saying ‘you haven’t changed’ has to be stretching the truth a bit since we last saw each other as 12 year olds, but we both said it anyway!).
- A pub lunch with two university friends. Being greeted by a chilled glass of prosecco and two smiling faces as I walked in (I was just a few minutes late, honestly!).
- Putting the world to rights with a friend from Nairobi who now lives in the UK.
- Responding to an out-of-the-blue email from another old school friend who was thinking of me because she had just been to the concert of a band that we once loved as teenagers.
- Chatting to my mum and my other sister over one hundred cups of coffee and tea.
- Shopping with my two teenagers amid thronging Saturday crowds and managing to hold it together so that everyone made it home happy.
- Seeing my dad still busy and happy at 82.
- Consuming delicious, home cooked meals that I can never resist going back for seconds of. (waistline has taken yet another hammering).
- Becoming familiar again with low light levels, cold rain, cold hands, coats and scarves, dark at 4pm and central heating.
Incredibly, I even managed to achieve my shopping tasks. Goodness knows what manner of random gifts our UK relatives are going to receive for Christmas this year but up until yesterday, red glittery paper flew and I made at least 6 trips to the local post office. Apologies for the fact that I never got as far as Christmas ribbon with my wrapping and never mind that I didn’t manage to get anything for our own family barring chocolate and Christmas crackers. Instead, Nairobi sourced gifts will have to do.
So I arrived back home this morning to be greeted by rain, our youngest daughter who had been ill all week in my absence (poor thing) and a husband who had coped. The situation is far from ideal and I can’t help wondering how we will go on like this but in the meantime, I’m lucky and it’s important to be thankful for all of these special times.
6 Crazy Festive Season UK Shopping Goals in 6 days
Task 1: Shop for and wrap daughter’s 14th birthday presents
Task 2: Shop for, wrap and post birthday presents for nieces and one nephew
Task 3: Shop for, wrap and post well over a dozen Christmas presents for extended family
Task 4: Shop for suitable warm clothes for two teenagers who believe that bare midriffs are okay for winter.
Task 5: Shop for my two daughters who each had a list of things they needed but could not face the supermarket.
Task 6: Remember to buy advent calendars and dish washer tablets.
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