we went to the uk

Liam and I went to the UK.

Before this trip, Liam had been back once, last year, to see family. I hadn't been back since 2019. Three years! (Three years that felt like an eternity while in the middle of them, but now, when I look back, because they were filled with so little, it seems like an empty mass of time, a white blob of almost nothing.)

When people heard how many places we visited during our two and a half week long trip, they asked if we were travelling around to dance. Nope, we said. We just want to see family and friends. Local dancing, where we got it, was a bonus, and mostly it was another way to spend time with our loved ones; the human connections through dancing mattered more to me than the dancing itself, this time. We just really wanted to see people.

Staying in contact online is something but it is not this. Because now, we got to just hang out with our friends. We got to go for walks together, have meals together, talk about everything, be quiet together. And HUG THEM. See our friends' new homes (so many had moved during the pandemic!) and neighbourhoods. (And new pets and CHILDREN! (Liam has FOUR new niblings!))

Nothing is like being in the same room as people you love. I genuinely don't have enough words for how lovely it's been to be able to reconnect with people like we have during this trip. It was very brief, of course, but for this trip we felt it was better to be able to reconnect with more of our friends rather than having to pick fewer to spend longer with. There were still many that we didn't manage to see this time around, because of illness, because there wasn't enough time or because we were too late with the planning. But we'll be back.

We've been so spoilt, too. We were treated to lush dinners and breakfasts, fancy cocktails and guided tours. People opened their homes for us to come and take up space and energy with our massive suitcases, they suggested daytrips and took us to their favourite restaurants and bakeries and tap rooms, they baked chocolate cake and figured out car parking for us, they had taken time off work just because we were coming or took time out of their day to go for lunch or dinner with us, and in Manchester we got a "welcome back" dance jam. My heart is bursting.

We got to reconnect with a country, too. With the cities, with the surroundings, with the utter Britishness of it all. Being back in Manchester was difficult in some ways because we were unhappy when we lived there, but the people are still the best. And I never want to live in London, but I love London. And Edinburgh! And Liverpool! There's just so much to this country, so much colour, so much culture and richness. Politically obviously it's absolutely bonkers, but I have hope still.

And I got to see two new national parks! These mind-blowingly beautiful views and winding roads and stone walls and quaint villages! I've missed it, so much. (Liam, who cares a lot less about the landscape than I do (:)), reconnected with chutney and with fish & chips, so he was happy too. :)) We stayed in two ridiculously cute pubs that gave me that feeling that I had so often when I first started spending more time in the UK: How is this the actual real world and not a film set? Ah, the teenage anglophile in me got her fill for sure.

Everywhere we went, both of us felt that we could have, and would have wanted to, stay longer. But by the end of our trip, we were absolutely exhausted - and that was the whole point. We were so bored during the pandemic that we wanted a trip like this. A trip where we would be socially spent at the end, a trip from which to come home with suitcases full of Percy Pigs and chutney, my memory cards full of photos, and our hearts full of, well - excuse the cheese, but - love. And despite all this richness, there was more to see and more to do and more time to spend with loved ones in every place we went. And isn't that the best feeling in the world?

No, it's not; the best bit is I get to share it all with Liam. This trip and this life.

Roughly one million more photos to come. Of course. :)

Peter Maxwell Davies | Farewell to Stromness (arr. by Timothy Walker)

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