Archive | August, 2011

10 Things I Miss From Home

29 Aug

Before we got the sad news of Rich’s sweet Nan passing away, I’d been drafting a blog post on the things I was missing from home, not realising that in just a few weeks’ time I’d get to experience most of them during a whirlwind trip back to the UK. Here’s my list:

1. Friends and family – This probably goes without saying! Sunday roasts at our parents’, dinner parties with friends, board games with grandparents on a rainy afternoon…It was lovely to go home and snuggle in that cosy warmth you get from being around familiar ones.

2. Changing seasons – Bermuda tends to have just two seasons – winter (cool and rainy) and summer (hot and sunny). Although winter in the UK goes on far too long, I do miss the cherry blossom in spring, the smell of freshly-cut grass to announce summer, the crunchy, colourful leaves of Autumn, and the sparkly snowflakes on a bright winter’s day.

3. Decent bread – A crusty French baguette with cheese and pate, crispy bacon between two slices of Tiger Bread, a chip buttie in a seeded roll – along with fish and chips, a good loaf of bread was on my list to consume as soon as possible when I got home!

4. The train – It may sound strange to some, but I miss my commute from Winchester to London each workday. I loved having that hour of peace where I could read a book, catch up on emails uninterrupted, or just watch the world rush by with no demands on my time. With no trains in Bermuda it was a novelty to sit back and enjoy that serenity again.

5. Zizzi’s Penne de la Casa – Rarely have I gone to Zizzi’s and ordered anything else. And although there are better Italian restaurants in London, the Zizzi’s Strand branch will always be special as it’s been the meeting place for years for me and my bestest friends to catch up over a bottle of wine (always Frascati) and set the world to right.

6. Wildlife – In Bermuda, other than frogs, toads, lizards, a few feral chickens and some flying bugs, we don’t have many creatures roaming the island. It was lovely watching the squirrels scampering around my parents’ garden, spying foxes dashing into the bushes and looking out for rabbits as we drove along the country lanes in the moonlight.

7. Fish and chips – If only expats could set up their own business in Bermuda – my fictional fish and chip shop would make a killing! There’s nothing quite like a good piece of battered cod served on a bed of chip-shop chips, all wrapped up in paper!

8. Shops – An afternoon browsing and buying treats in the High Street without having to take out a bank loan to afford it? Definitely missed!

9. London – the hidden alleyways, historic buildings, and the hustle and bustle of city life. Whilst island life is wonderfully relaxing, a trip to the big smoke was reinvigorating – even the stuffy Tube!

10. Un-sensationalist news – Oh Huw Edwards! How I’ve missed news that is read calmly by proper journalists with normal teeth! With no noisy commercial breaks! 🙂

What do you miss the most when you are away from home?


Cup Match

9 Aug

The last weekend of July was Cup Match – a two day public holiday of Somerset (west end) vs. St George’s (east end) cricket – and it was quite the event! In the days leading up to the game, there were people declaring their allegiance with their team’s coloured ribbons pinned to their chests, cars and scooters brandishing flags, and pop-up snow cone stands with blue and red (Somerset) or blue and navy (St. George’s) flavourings! Hamilton had a real buzz of excitement in the air – akin to the days leading up to Christmas – as families made their preparations for a long weekend of boating, swimming and camping – a tradition among Bermudians during Cup Match weekend, despite home being a few miles away from their tents!

We headed to the match on the second day to a packed field of scaffolding stands, food stalls, Bacardi bars and – for the Cup Match only – a gambling tent, packed with people trying to go home with more cash than they arrived with, on the one weekend that gambling is legal in Bermuda. There was an incredible atmosphere; the sights of waving flags, face-painted supporters, bright clothing; smells of freshly grilled fish and icy rum cocktails, sounds of cheering and clapping and the shaky bass of reggae music, all under a blue sky and a fierce sun. Thankfully our good friend Bryan managed to blag us into a private stand, with shade, a beautiful breeze, stunning views across the water, and a free bar! Needless to say, we stayed there for the rest of the day!

After a great afternoon and a close match (St. George’s eventually won) we headed off for dinner, past the makeshift camp sites on the sides of the roads, with happy campers cheering and waving their flags by their tents. Our taxi driver – a Somerset supporter – waved his Somerset hat back.

“Aren’t they St. George’s supporters?” I asked, confused as to why he was waving his Somerset hat out the window to the winning opponents.

“Yes, but it’s all the same,” he laughed.

And it was. Although people here are resolutely loyal to their side of the island, everyone is jubilant at the end of Cup Match – regardless of the result. I thought about how different this event may have been in England – fights fuelled by team rivalry and too much alcohol, people falling about, vomit, road rage on the way home. Although there was a strong police presence at the game, I only saw one verbal argument, no drunken embarrassments and no arguments at home time. Instead people waved and whooped, cars honked their horns, and electric happiness zipped through the air like dancing fireflies.

Roses in December

3 Aug

We had some sad news on Saturday. Rich’s nan passed away. She was a kind and gentle lady, 89 years young, who had not woken from her sleep.

Rich telephoned family, pacing up and down the garden because he could go nowhere else. We couldn’t pop over to make his mum a cup of tea, or take care of his granddad’s supper. Suddenly we were incredibly far away from home.

So we did some gardening. We pruned and watered; we moved pots around to face the sunlight; we replanted to fill gaps in blank soil. We worked quietly until everything was neat and ordered again.

We’d planned our first trip home to be at Christmas – a trip full of festivities, family visits, Season’s Greetings to strangers, and cosy celebrations. But of course we cannot always tidy and order our lives in the way we do our gardens. Instead our first visit home will be to say goodbye to a special lady. There will be sadness, but also gratitude – we were lucky to have her in our lives for so long. She celebrated our engagement with us, attended our wedding, and we spent many happy moments in her company. As J M Barrie wrote: “God gave us memory that we might have roses in December”. I know we’ll all nurture and cherish those beautiful roses.