Japan Life: Home Not Home [London Edition]

I realised that in all of my writing, I don’t think I’ve ever really written about London. Or  England. Or the UK. Nothing at all really. None of it. I mean, I visited Ireland at the end of last year but I don’t think I ever got around to writing about that [and that’s another thing to put on the to-do list!].

I guess it feels odd writing about London because this blog was set up to document my travels and well, time spent in London never really constituted travelling. London was home.  Except with me now Tokyo-based and flying all over the place, home doesn’t really have a physical location anymore. As I sit here pondering it, even when I was London-based, the logic for not writing about London doesn’t fit – not everyone who reads this blog is UK-based.  In fact, according to my blog analytics very few readers are UK-based so my logic just got thrown out the window.

Let’s chat about London.

I can’t tell you how good it was to be back in London at the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had (and am having) to travel, live abroad, work abroad and just experience so much of the world…but it’s also been an incredibly stressful few months with a lot of work drama and a pretty serious case of culture shock. Not to mention I’d exhausted my ice gems supply by Week 3. Not good.

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Shit got real.

After a particularly intense period in Singapore earlier in the month, London was the shining light at the end of the tunnel and by the time I reached the CP Lounge in Haneda airport, I was so close to cancelling the return portion of my ticket it was madness. Thankfully, a well timed cappuccino and a portion of their insanely good DanDan noodles saved me from such rashness. That and the incredible warmth of the staff in the lounge who now know me by name. Cathay Pacific – no joke, if you did a direct flight between Tokyo and London instead of routing via Hong Kong, I would fly with you every time. I honestly think I love you.

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A copy of the FT & my pre-flight cappuccino, piping hot DanDan noodles and Yuki & I

My 12 hour flight back to London was productive, the time well-spent catching up on missed Japanese assignments – why oh why do I convince myself to sign up for things like the Japanese Proficiency exam? I do sometimes wonder what life would be like if I didn’t live so…so…I’m not quite sure what the most appropriate word is for this sentence. Intensively? Actively? Diligently? No, none of them are quite working for me but I think you get the gist of it. You know, if I just slowed my pace a bit and didn’t make life so damn challenging for myself. I think we all know the answer to it – I think it’d probably bore the socks off me but it’s still an interesting question to think about every now and then.

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A flight of intense study! And some serious plane jealousy going on here.

The lady in front of me seemed to get increasingly irked that I kept my reading lamp on throughout the flight. I mean excuse me they give you an eye mask for a reason. Some people… Not that I could have slept anyway. I flew back from Singapore with Japan Airlines a few days before and I don’t know whether it was a new airplane or what (I’m pretty sure it was a new airplane) but the seats were so comfortable! Come on BA, up your game!

London was healing. It sounds melodramatic but it really was. It was four days of near-total chill (I say near-total because I spent Friday afternoon in our London office preparing for my performance review with my career counsellor) but it was just what I needed. I saw my Mum, my sister, my boyfriend, my friends – not to mention my cat! I honestly did not realise how much I need animals in my life until I was living alone again. So alone.

I went back to our family home outside of London and breathed properly. The air was so clean. If air could be described as delicious… the things you appreciate once you don’t have them, right? I know I sound like a crazy lady but seriously, I just stood in the garden and breathed for a while. I have never appreciated breathing so much. I also ate cheese, lots of cheese; burrata, cheddar, halloumi, feta – I had it all and it was delicious.

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Burrata @ Searcy’s in the Gherkin. I nearly swapped my main for a second serving…

My boyfriend and I finally got to drink the champagne from Valentine’s Day that we’d skipped last time because we both came down with yucky colds and we went for long walks around London and spent hours perusing bookstores giving our Amazon wish lists (a.k.a personal to-read lists) an update.

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Just some of the titles I’m adding to my list. Yes, my reading tastes are eclectic.

To top it all of, I went to ASDA and stocked up on those important, incredibly hard to buy things like mandarin segments, deodorant, mouthwash and almond milk. Most importantly, my ice gem stocks have been replenished**.

In short, it was glorious.

[**Update – it’s been a long week and most of the ice gems are now gone because I very foolishly underestimated my ice gem needs and gave some packs to friends who wanted to try English snacks. I’m such an idiot.]

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