the long way back.

I have flown rather a lot in the last few years. All long haul and all a boring chore. The first person to invent a practical teleporter will get my vote of thanks and if there is any justice a knighthood to boot. I tolerate flying in the same way that I tolerate a pub with no beer. Badly. I am not worried about plunging to the ground in a ball of flame or getting hijacked and spending the next six weeks in the corner of an airport somewhere. These things I can tolerate. Just please do not let me sit next to a bore who wishes to tell me his life story. My two seven hour flights are a necessary evil to return me to my homeland, but I could cheerfully open the door and jump out over the sea if I suffer the kick-kick-kick on the back of my seat.
I have never managed to sleep on a flight and am insanely jealous of those people whose eyes close before the flight has taken off and only open as the aircraft trundles up to terminal. I do get so very tempted to wake them up. It`s not fair that even though my eyes feel like I am blinking sand I cannot nod off. The monotonous roar of te engine seems to some like the sweetest lullaby, yet all I hear is a chorus of “wake up wake up wake up wake up”.
Still, I can console myself with the thought that I will be in my own bed in the sleepy midlands village at home. Thats great. At three in the morning it is so quiet that I still cannot sleep and the silence is deafening. Normally at this point I get out and fire the boiler up on my venerable computer. “This should help me sleep!”, I think to myself, “I could re-read my blogs, that will send me to the land of nod!”
Of course since the ancient machine has been sleeping for a few months it takes a little bit of waking up. Updates hurtle down the wires and I click frantically as the computer panics and shivers as it realises the anti-virus is out of date and insists on updating and re-starting. Five times normally. By the time the poor old thing has settled down and decided to do a bit of work the sun is shining through the windows and I have to start pondering the timetable of family visits to make. Jet-lagged and weary I will probably head to see Mother and Father. The first question they ask, as with all other friends and family, is “When are you going back?”. I would love to say it will be when that bloke has invented a teleport machine, but until then it will be “Two weeks” and please can I have a seat by myself?

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Two years and two stone…

 It is now just over two years since I arrived in Hong Kong. Jet lagged and bewildered by planes, people and signs I was clipped around the ear by Wife and instructed to “Keep up!” as we headed to the taxi rank. Wife is one of those people who no longer need to look for signs and just know in which direction to head. Me? I am like a five year old, distracted by shiny things and flashing lights. We jumped into a taxi and waved a bit of paper with the address of the hotel under the drivers nose and he nodded and set off. My jet lag disappeared as I felt the urge to stick my head out of the window as the skyscrapers and buildings of the New Territories came into view.

 Since then I have become accustomed my new life in Hong Kong. I no longer tut disapprovingly as a door is left to slam in my face and the idea of a bus with no timetable or route no longer leaves me bewildered.  Time to do a list! The things I miss from England..

 1)  Pubs. If you have read any of my previous random ramblings, you may have got just an inkling of the fact I like to go to the pub. As I write this I am sat at a bar in the centre of Hong Kong drinking a very fine real ale.It is a very good bar. The staff are both friendly and attentive. The food is excellent and the atmosphere is welcoming. It is not, however,a pub. There is no open fire to toast ones buttocks and the floor is not covered in sleeping hounds.There is no grumpy old men moaning about the state of the country ( apart from me) and the staff bring you beer rather than having to elbow the bar-flies out of the way to get served.

 2)  Beer. The beer in the Globe is fantastic. One real ale and a huge selection of beers from around the world. It is not the same as wandering to the local and finding ten pumps to choose from. The thrill of surveying the pump clips and wondering which is the first one Wife will buy you.I do have to say I would be extremely churlish to moan about the lack of English beer when I am six thousand miles from home!

 3) The weather. I am English so the weather is an important topic of conversation. In a strange way I actually miss the cold weather. The temperature has hovered around thirty degrees for the last few months and I feel a strange longing for a frosty morning and wrapping up well to trudge of to the pub. I have to say that a few mornings of scraping the car and slip-sliding along an icy footpath would soon have me moaning and wishing for the heat of Hong Kong.

4) Light nights. As we have moved a tad closer to the equator, the days and nights do not vary by much. It feels odd in the middle of summer to put the lights on in the flat. I miss the nights sat outside our house in England in the summer, drinking beer as the sun gradually faded away. Of course the reality is that we would sit outside for half an hour and then put a jumper,hat, scarf and coat on until we finally decided that even in June it is just too damn cold to sit outside!

 5)  Owning a car. The transport system in Hong Kong is fantastic. The MTR whisks you along efficiently and there are more buses than you can shake a stick at. I do miss grabbing the car keys and heading of without needing to look at either routes or timetables. The main thing I do not miss of course is filling the tank with petrol. The cost of a weeks worth of fuel will keep us transported here for over a month.

6)  Friends and family. Possibly the biggest drawback. It was very difficult to leave everybody behind although skype,facebook and email make it a lot easier, it is still the one thing that makes it hard to uproot and move to foreign climes

7)   Morris Dancing. Nope, still cannot escape the fact that possibly the most irritating thing on the planet is so quintessentially English that I miss it so much. The drunken geography teachers skipping, hopping and waving sticks and hankies about. It is so dreadful yet so English. It brings a tear to my eye thinking about it.

8)    Steam fairs. You pay to go to a field and watch old steam engines wheeze and puff around an arena. You have to pay extra to visit the craft tent. There will be stands selling cheap tools and boxes of rusty metal. There may also be a beer tent….It normally rains and several things that were supposed to happen will be cancelled. What better way for an Englishman to spend his day off?

9)    English people. I have been told that I say
“Please”,”thank you and “sorry”, far too much. An Englishman is the one you
bump into who apologises to you. You stamp on his foot and he says he is sorry
for not getting out of your way. If that is a definition of being English then
I am actually fine with that

10)   Fish and chips. I have eaten fish and chips in Hong Kong. It has been jolly good too. But if you really want fish and chips you need a chippy on the way home from the pub. Soggy chips covered in a gallon of vinegar and enough salt to send your blood pressure through the roof. Crunchy batter that shatters as you bite into it, spraying shrapnel over the occupants of a nearby bus shelter. Anything else is a poor imitation of a british classic!

 So, all those things I miss. Do I want to head back to the UK? Not on your nelly!