This time last year, I was about to depart the UK for Barcelona, having had a glorious trip around Scotland and Ireland. I really thought that during the Southern Hemisphere winter of 2013, I'd be miserable, reliving the three month travels highlights package and mourning the loss of London's lifestyle, while being cold, damp and miserable in Aotearoa.
I am pleased, and somewhat startled, to find that it's not like that at all.
This winter hasn't really been that bad so far. Today's projected high is 19 degrees celcius, the sun is out and I probably didn't need my coat on the way to work. On a good day in winter, you can still wander around in short sleeves in the sunlight hours, which are longer than in the UK. Sure, houses are terribly insulated and abysmally heated so the nights are a bit cold but it really isn't as miserable as I'd predicted.
The house purchase has also made life a little more exciting. I'm getting a ridiculous kick out of placing frames just so to cover giant scrapes in the paintwork. In all seriousness, the house is a little reminiscent of a Dunedin flat in some ways and I've certainly lived in nicer places recently (Grange Road, Bermondsey, I still miss you and your mews-y loveliness! Crofton Road, Camberwell your kitchen was divine!). But it's mine, and it has a big backyard, and I can do what I want with it. Yes, it's been less than a week so I shouldn't speak too soon, but I think this is contributing to my surprising lack of nostalgia for Europe.
Work has also been a surprise factor. Yes, I'm really busy and I've been a bit stressed. But I'm actually enjoying my job for the first time in a very long time. I'm challenged, it's interesting, but I can shake it off when I go home at night. I like my colleagues and my bosses very much. I think I've been very lucky.
P is great, of course - but when is he not? This is the man who presented me with a glass of something bubbly on our first night in our new home and laughed maniacally and hugged me when I worked out exactly how nice that something bubbly was and mock-scowled at him with my best bank manager countenance. Mortgage be damned - enjoy life! is his philosophy. He keeps me dreaming (I worry that I keep him chained to the ground).
My friends are lovely too - we've fallen back into ages-old friendships on our return to the mothership Aotearoa. We're off to Wellington tonight for a 30th bday and hopefully to meet a brand new baby-friend (details to be ironed out) - staying with old friends. We do miss all the London kids terribly, of course. We keep plotting ways to either have them all return or to get back and visit soon.
It's great to be near family, too. They've been so supportive since we got back and when you're gone, over there, for so long, it's easy to forget what it's like to be able to have brunch with your sister, or a play with the kids, every so often. Easy.
I'm pretty spoilt. I know my swings (rants) on here are fairly extreme but underneath it all, I think Auckland was a good move for us. Yes, I miss the travel desperately. I miss our lifestyle, our friends, our places. But I'm happy here. I only just opened my eyes and saw that now.