Nothing quite beats the feeling you get of arriving home.
It never really matters whether you have had the most amazing time abroad or not. Or whether you didn’t want to leave where you were! Arriving home mixes nostalgia of family and friends with the familiarities of routine and the role you have there. You seemingly just slot right back in where you left off. Everything has changed and nothing has changed all at the same time. Its like people may have altered and be doing things differently but in general life has just gone on as normal. Just without you.
My brother mentioned to me when in the states that if you see someone after a long time apart your mind immediately spans back in time to the last time you actually saw them. Too much has happened in the interim on an individual level and therefore the reason why one is so quick to revert back to habitual being (or just that feeling you get that you never home left at all) is because you very quickly span yourself back in time to what you last remember of the time you were home, or the last experience you had with people. Therefore your time away becomes almost ephemeral or apparently insignificant (time wise) in the great scale of things.
So my 5 or so weeks of being home shoved me back down to earth almost immediately. Or to planet UK anyways. As I expected within the immediate surroundings and friendship groups not much had changed. I suppose I wasn’t away that long for much drastic occurrences to happen.
I worked at the unicorn and at the pilgrim in north Marston to raise funds for my Borneo trip. I also undertook a 24 hour silence and did a walk from Oxford to Cublington dressed in a bear suit. It was pretty warm….
When I was in America and trying to think of fundraising ideas, walking somewhere was one of the obvious ones. I looked at walking back from London but I couldn’t have done that in a day I don’t think. So I wanted to make it more interesting. Someone suggest dressing up as something, perhaps a bear…. And so I did. In retrospect perhaps an urangutang or an elephant would have been more appropriate what with me going to Borneo. But never the less the bear it was.
It was a relatively eventful walk. I started off alone at 6am from Oxford. I met no one on footpaths until I got to around Thame. My brother met me there and re supplied me with water and wine gums. And then I continued on to chearsley, again by myself, in a bear suit, and didn’t see anyone. Cows got confused. My bear colours matched theirs. They just stared at me all the way across fields. Sheep ran away in pure terror.
Just before lunch my mum joined me with our dog bess. We decided to walk to cuddington for lunch. As we made our way into the first field we could see a load of bulls blocking the entrance to the next field we needed to go to. My mum insisted she knew how to move them and proceeded to make ‘mooooove’ noises at them and waving her hands. This instead woke them up to our presence and a few of them started to walk towards us. Those sat down began to stand up. At this point mum informs me that bulls/cows can stampede… As they were getting closer I turned around and said to mum we were outta here!! We lightly jogged (in a panic) back to the stile. Here bess, out of being petrified (we think) decided to jump over the stile that was particularly high. After this near incident experience we then had to reroute slightly. Heading into the first field bess started to slow down. And then she just stopped, laid down, and refused to get up. We decided she must have sprained something. Mum (who had my mobile phone) instructed me to walk the last field alone and get onto the road to the pub and that she would follow behind slower. At least this meant I could go and order some food.
So off I trotted, or ran, or whatever a bear does. Once on the main road, and in fact anytime I joined a main road there were horns beeping and people waving. Made me feel like a bear celebrity. Of course breathing became pretty difficult once the bear head was on and so finding the next field or stop off was always a pretty speedy process. Mainly so I could breathe freely again!
Once at the pub in cuddington, and after thoroughly surprised the bar staff there; they mentioned that as a bear I should be eating fish fish fish. And so I did. Well I ordered it anyway. After 40 minutes a lady arrived into the pub and asked if I was becky. To which I replied yes. She said that bess had completely collapsed and that my brother was coming to pick her up and that my mum would then meet me at the pub along with my aunt who was coming to join us for the latter part of the walk.
Poor bess, she was absolutely fine after a few hours at home. Theory is she either hit her head and got concussion or completely winded her self when trying to escape from the cows! Either way I wouldn’t have thought she would be the one collapsing on this journey!
Anyway, it made for an interesting story over the days to follow. After lunch me mum and my aunt continued the walk. The weather had brightened up somewhat, and whereas I was pretty exhausted, both my aunt and mum were fresh as daisies and storming on ahead of me.
Stupidly I had downloaded the route onto my iPhone. Stupid because after about an hour after lunch it ran out of battery. We were just coming down into Aylesbury vale and could see waddesdon on our left and Aylesbury on our right. Pretty spectacular views. I decided I knew where we were enough that we should continue regardless and that it would be easy enough to find our route. How very wrong I was… After crossing the very main road and entertaining commuters on there way home we then ploughed through more fields until we completely lost the footpath. We needed to get over a railroad in order to continue and so we walked until we found a footbridge. Or in this case a bridge for farm vehicles to cross over into what I can only describe being the biggest field I ever saw in my life. At every corner there looked like there was going to be an exit. But upon arrival to said corners there was no way through or a river blocked our way. We were officially stuck. My feet at this point were about to drop off. We worked out we walked an extra five miles in the wrong direction. Anyhow it was also getting late and both mum and my aunt needed to get back for things. So we semi gave in exhausted. My cousin picked us up and then dropped me off 5 miles towards home in the right direction. This way I had still walked 30 miles but had more of a chance of making it home before dark. I was extremely grateful.
The last part was pretty much all on main roads. And the final stretch from Whitchurch to Cublington I did with my bear head on. I guess it was Friday and people were loving this friendly bear site on their way home (thank god they couldn’t see underneath the head) anyways people waved, beeped and some even stopped to wind down their windows and throw money in my fundraising bucket! These people truly kept me going for the last few miles. If it wasn’t for them I think I would have arrived at the pub pretty deflated. But instead I arrived full of cheer and to a full pub where I then insisted in several alcoholic beverages with friends until I couldn’t keep my eyes open much longer!!
The walk was fantastic and I raised about 500 pounds just from that day which was incredible really. That and the sponsored silence and the work I did led to my funding for Borneo.
The last few weeks of being at home consisted of Sam and Chris arriving back from America, me and Sam going to bestival, manically packing and buying things for the expedition and mentally prepping myself, Sarah my friend from America coming over as a surprise, my mum going away on a cruise for 2 weeks around Ireland, and then within a space of a week and a half we will all be spread all over the world again. Me off to Borneo, my mum off to Australia (via a million places-she is cruising there) Tim out to Borneo in 3 weeks to join me there, Matt and Sam back to uxbridge and Chris back to the pub. Then dad flies out to Singapore in 5 weeks to meet mum and do the last part of the cruise to Australia with her! Madness. Very exciting times. I will next blog from Borneo…. TTFN!!