Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Travelling Tadpole 11/9/11

So, it’s 7.39am and I’m wondering whether to have another dish of the spaghetti Bolognese I had just under 12 hours ago.

Normally, at this hour, I’m craving pizza – or, rather, I’ve eaten the pizza at 5am and am contemplating having a nap before going to the gym.

I don’t know what time it’s ok to have a glass of wine – 7.39am in LA is, after all, 11.39pm in the UK, which makes it reasonable if I’ve been having a long supper, UK time.

But if I wait until cocktail hour at 6pm in LA, that’s 10am in the UK, which makes it decidedly unacceptable.

When I fly LA to London on a flight that lands in the morning, is it frowned upon to have a champagne breakfast, even though it’s last orders time in LA?

When my afternoon tea of a scone and clotted cream is delivered flying into LA mid afternoon, is it any wonder I want to throw up when it’s only 7am in the UK?

Yes, the long haul flying is finally getting to me. I’ve managed it for three years and, when I first moved here and was staying put for up to three months at a time, it never bothered me.

But in recent months I’ve been returning to the UK every few weeks, and I really don’t know where I am waking up each day. Back in Europe, I have also been visiting Paris and Spain, and the first ten minutes of every morning after I’ve been travelling are now spent in a panic as I find myself in another strange bed, reaching out for a water glass that turns out to be a telephone, and something I realise only when it is halfway down my throat.

It could be worse, I suppose. At least I’m not reaching out to a man and trying to make telephone calls from his chest. Or his handset.

As I have said before, I never used to be much of a traveller, so it’s still all relatively new to me; hence the tiredness, I suspect.

The longest journeys I took when I was a child were to:-

(1) Rumney village to my Auntie Cynth’s for Sunday tea.

(2) Weston Super Mare.

(3) Belgium, where my parents were so appalled by the shabbiness of the room, they contemplated driving straight back to the ferry. It was only my tears at the thought of having my first trip abroad so cruelly halted that I believe stopped them.

And let’s not forget:-

(4) Pwllheli, when my mother insisted on stopping at every single gift shop between Bridgend and North Wales (I swear I had three birthdays in the time it took us to get there).


(5) Cornwall, where, for some reason, at the height of summer, my parents thought it much more exciting not to book any accommodation in advance. “NO VACANCIES” is a sign that brings me out in a sweat even to this day.

So, I’m not sure where my recent new-found love of travel has its origins; but I do know that, for the moment, I’ve had enough of it.

I loved returning to my house in Cardiff for my birthday, different trees shedding pellets of autumn on my driveway. One friend wanted to sweep the pieces of autumnal debris away; I insisted that they stay, loving the reminder of seasons after such a long spell in the monotonous, albeit mostly glorious sunshine of California.

My rhododendron bush was flowering in the back garden – five months early, a sign of the warm weather I have missed (when, bizarrely, California was enjoying a less warm spell).

I opened my sweater drawer and put on my red cashmere for the first time in three years.

My mum and her dog came to stay.

I saw so many friends, in London, Paris, Spain and Cardiff.

I went to the 21st and 18th birthdays of my friends’ children and loved talking with young people, embarking on their adult lives, so full of hope and promise.

I bought food in a market in Paris and remembered how great things could taste outside the blandness of California, where a tomato could be a pomegranate for all the difference in taste.

I woke to exquisite sunrises in Spain and felt thrilled once more to be so close to the variety of truly glorious European cities.

There is a wonderful Alice Munro (the Canadian genius – and it’s not often you hear those two words in the same sentence) who wrote a story about some children, trying to re-locate tadpoles from one part of a pond to another. They successfully managed it, only to return in the morning to find that all the creatures had returned to the place from whence they came.

I still love travelling and am fortunate to have seen so many great spectacles in so many different countries.

But sometimes tiredness alone makes you just want to be a tadpole again – and eat pizza at the time it was meant to be eaten.

Eight pm. In front of the telly. At home. In my sweater.

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