Week six : looking back and moving forward

If you’ve been following my blog for the past six weeks, you will know that this is all about our move back to the UK after twelve brilliant years in Hong Kong. What you may not know is that we have moved back into the house we owned before leaving and it has brought back so many memories.

We bought the house when our daughter was seven months old and I was nine weeks pregnant with our son. We’d moved from Birmingham (UK) to a small village in Sussex, about three hours south so we didn’t know anyone. Hubby was joining the band of merry men commuting to London each day and I was lucky enough to be a stay at home mum. I decided the best way to make friends was to head down to the local park with small daughter and bump and see who was around. It was a great start, I made two friends immediately and, thanks to Facebook have kept in touch with them both over the years. I joined the local branch of the National Childbirth Trust with my babies, moved on to the village playgroup when they were toddlers, then nursery school (kindergarten) and finally the local primary school where our daughter completed her first year of school. They say it takes a village to raise a child and when I look back at our five years in the village, I remember the same  group of parents (mostly) doing the same thing. Four of us decided to share looking after our children once a week. We would do “two mums on, two mums off” for a few hours to give each other a break and I know it saved my sanity on more than one occasion. I’m not saying everyone in a village gets on all the time, that would be just weird, but seeing familiar faces regularly, nodding to the man you walk past each day when he walks his dog, recognising the lady behind the till at the local store, sharing a smile with a neighbour as you walk past their garden, all these things foster a sense of belonging. I was so busy raising my kids that I probably took it all for granted but it is the thing I miss most about Hong Kong. I suppose that means it’s not really Hong Kong I miss but the community, the group of people I knew, friends and acquaintances alike, they all made me feel at home. I’m going to work hard at finding that again here.

After the mass unpacking of last week, our house is looking more like a home. It’s strange being in the same building but with completely different furniture. I keep going to the the cupboard under the kitchen sink to put things in a dustbin that isn’t there anymore, talk about learned behaviour! The decor in two rooms is, well shall we just say very 90s and leave it at that. When we left the UK, it was possible to buy a TV license (compulsory in the UK, it pays for the BBC), plug in the ariel and watch four TV channels free of charge. Now I’ve had to buy a Freeview box and found over 100 channels (and there’s still nothing on). In a cupboard on the garage I found two mugs depicting the companies hubby and I used to work for, both now defunct, hope it wasn’t us……

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Twelve years ago the recycling box was small, now I have a huge wheely bin and the local authority recycles over 80% of rubbish (trash). I did get a bit cross when the bin man said he wouldn’t empty the bin last week because apparently one item was in the wrong bin. Thankfully, we came to an understanding and the bin is empty again. When I think of the little old ladies pushing trolleys of cardboard around almost 24 hours a day in Hong Kong, I do wonder. I hate that they have to do that but it keeps the streets clean and they are not punitive or petty minded!

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The weather is still mostly sunny still and warm for the UK although the breeze is fresh and my skin is so dry already but the views over the UK’s newest National Park, the Sussex Downs are beautiful and considering Hong Kong is waiting for typhoon Utor to hit, maybe I am in the right place.

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PS – The windmill above is for sale, a cool £1,000,000, just in case you’re interested.

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