As an expat in South Africa we are without a UK base. In the past our travels to the UK have been separately, so we can spread the amount of time we spend with family over several visits rather than just 1 visit annually. The kids visited the UK once a year and stayed with their Dad and the eldest 3 already had their own homes we could visit.
In August the youngest, now aged 15, returned to complete his education in boarding school and then in January the 19yo returned to the UK, leaving just hubby and I in South Africa.
This is my first visit back since the kids left home. Usually I stay with my parents, a friend or 2 in the London area and other close friends, this time I’m travelling with a 15yo as I’ve timed my trip to spend the school holidays with him, but we don’t really have anywhere to go, a base. We’ve been travelling together for the past 2 weeks. A few nights with different friends, with children his age, an emergency dash up to Leeds to visit child no. 3 of 5 in hospital and we were able to stay in his flat for the duration but had to leave when he came out of hospital, there’s just about enough room for him and his girlfriend, without mother and younger brother there as well.
We were able to use a car to travel to Leeds, but the rest of the trip has been by coach, bus, train and a few lifts to catch them. We’ve been paying our way by helping with household chores, washing and ironing and some childcare.
We have the use of a car over the weekend, mainly to take the 15yo back to school and to visit the eldest child who is disabled and even though there will be 2 of us, managing her and her wheelchair on public transport is a bit of an effort.
It’s been great spending the past 2 weeks with the 15yo although he’s not been over impressed with the public transport, lugging cases and sleeping in different beds every few nights. It’s probably the first time we’ve spent this much time together without anyone else around and we’ve had a fair amount of fun.
He flies out to SA in July/August and then I won’t see him again until Christmas, when hubby and I will be making our first trip together to the UK in 4 years and we’ve rented a cottage in South Wales for the month of December and will be hiring a car making it easier to get around and visit all the kids, maybe this time they can come visit us and we can actually have a holiday.