Tuesday 13 October 2015

A holiday to the UK for a British Expat is more a tour of duty.

Although this isn't a #TimeTraveller post in the way of revisiting an old holiday, it does cover a time difference between where we live in Dubai and a holiday in the UK and a lot of time to travel. Although it's only 3 hours ahead in Dubai (4 in a weeks time when you change your clocks) it does get darker earlier in the evenings, which does make a difference to sleeping and eating routines.  As expat holidays are rare, what I call a holiday is totally different from visiting the UK which we call our 'annual tour of duty' where we spend 2 -3 weeks touring the UK, not getting much sleep, spending a fortune on accommodation, car hire and food, visiting family and friends.

Don't get me wrong we don't regret doing it, it's something we look forward to doing very much, as we miss out on so much of our adult children's lives and our niece and great nephews growing up.

Unfortunatley a couple of our trips have coincided with deaths and illness in the family and we've missed births, marriages and christenings as well as birthdays and christmas.

Family do come and visit us in Dubai as do friends and the same when we lived in South Africa. Both hubby and I enjoy travel and this year alone we've clocked up 168 hours in the air. That's 58 hours for me and 110 for hubby. He's been to South Africa, Turkey x 3, The USA, Oman for a visa run and twice to the UK. I've been to the UK twice, the visa run to Oman and over to Canada. We both have trips to South Africa this year, mine is this week and hubbies in mid November and he will probably be joining me for a week.

Child 5 of 5 is out for Christmas and child 3 of 5 is joining us for the New Year and we're hoping my mum will be out for the first two weeks of December also.

It's been a busy year for us all, but we could really do with a holiday, just the two of us, a week on the beach (we live 1km from the beach in Dubai), but one without a long haul flight, without work and without staying in someone else's house on the sofa.

This was only the third time hubby and I had been in the UK together since we moved abroad in January 2011. Our first trip together in 2013 was to repair the damage left to our house by our tenants, then November 2014 to collect all our paperwork for our visa applications to move to Dubai and last month for child 4 of 5 passing out parade with the British Army.

We don't travel together, we like to split up the visits with the kids and family, this way everyone gets 4 visits a year from us individually and it saves on accommodation costs as it's easier for just the one of us to stay somewhere than it is for both of us.
Our family live all over the UK and if you add friends to the equation we need at least three weeks just to say 'hi and bye' to everyone.

Children 1, 2 and 5 live in Gloucestershire. Children 3 & 4 are in Yorkshire. However child 4 has just moved to Northern Ireland.  My parents are in South Wales as is my sister, nephew, nieces and two great nephews. Hubbies mother and family are in Bristol.

Part One Travelling around Yorkshire on my own.

I flew into Birmingham airport and collected the car hire and drove to Manchester, where I met a friend for coffee but was too tired to manage dinner. The next morning I visited hubbies aunt and then drove to Bradford where I spent the night. The next morning I collected child 3 of 5 from Leeds and we spent the day in York, he returned home on the train and I drove to Thirsk, checked into the B&B explored the town and collected hubby from the train station at 10pm. He landed in Heathrow in the afternoon.

The following day we drove to Catterick for child 4 of 5 passing out parade and back to Manchester for the night having seen another aunt and cousins for dinner. The following morning we were back at the first aunties then drove down to Birmingham where I returned the hire car and my BIL collected us to take us to South Wales.

On arrival at my parents I was summoned to my sisters house for bedtime and stories for our 4 year old niece and we finally got back to my parents, both shattered at 10pm.

Part Two Exploring the South West

It didn't get any quieter, we drove to Bristol, via Gloucester to collect child 1 of 5 and to see hubbies mother and collect her car for the week. by now I'd clocked nearly 1000 miles in the hire car and my mum's car.

The rest of our holiday didn't get any quieter or more relaxed, we had visits to child 5 of 5 at his school, taking our niece for the day and visiting a farm then a picnic in the pub with friends, we drove to Birmingham after collecting child 4 of 5 and went to see Birmingham City play football. Wednesday was back to Gloucester and child 2 of 5 came over to see us in the evening with his girlfriend. Thursday I caught up with a friend in my home town, Ross-onWye, then off to Abergavenny in the afternoon for lunch and the retail park in Newport for coffee with friends, via the Crematorium to lay some flowers for my Gran. Friday we were back in Gloucester with child 1 of 5 and my parents came back from their holiday was we'd had the house to ourselves all week, we called in to see child 5 of 5 at his school, then went for dinner with friends.

Saturday we drove to Somerset to visit hubbies friends and while the men folk went fishing, the women folk, explored Bridport and Lyme Regis, Sunday we went for a walk on the beach at Seaton and on the way home we stopped at Beer for a sunday lunch, we called in at my sisters to do bed time with my niece. Monday was a day with my parents and we went out shopping and to the retail park. We were summoned by children 2, 4 and 5 for one last visit so set off on a 100 miles round trip to collect child 4, 2 and visit child 5 at his school and went out to Tewkesbury for a coffee then dropped them all back off.

Tuesday I packed and hubby drove me to Birmingham airport for my flight home, he then drove back to Bristol calling in at child 1 of 5 and dropping off her christmas presents, then the following day he caught a coach from Bath to Heathrow, arriving home in the early hours of Thursday morning. It took around 4 days for us to get back into Dubai time.

Can you see why a trip to the UK isn't a holiday for us, but more a tour of duty?

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