Since arriving back after 16 months on the road, we embarked on a journey in the UK couchsurfing with friends around the country. With no real base, we saw this gap between traveling and ‘reality’ as the perfect opportunity to catch up with friends and family. With so many welcoming friends insisting we come and stay, how could we refuse such an offer?
Unemployed but with our recipe book project to embark on, our days were preoccupied with collating information and writing whilst our hosts were at a 9-5 job. Throughout their normal working day, we would be beavering away at home. Experimenting with foreign ingredients and substitutions, testing the recipes, debating the way to explain a recipe and how to present 16 months of material. It certainly took up our time and before we knew it our friends would be home and ready to relax.
The great thing about traveling around friends houses whilst writing the book was that we would always have food on the table for our hardworking hosts when they fell through the door after a long day at the office. From our point of view it was such a luxury to have a decent amount of time to spend with them, have a roof over our heads and have access to a kitchen after an eternity of hostel living. It also meant we could embrace the fragments of western reality that we loved and avoid all the bits we hated for a bit longer.
A routine developed wherever we visited. It worked out nicely that we would generally cook for our generous friends, who all seemed more than willing to put us up indefinitely. Spending time with (essentially living with) so many good friends after not seeing them for such a long time was a real pleasure. It was the thing we had missed the most- down time with our mates. Unintentionally we began UK couchsurfing not via the well know website but staying with friends for a few weeks (on one occasion months) which turned into a post-traveling experience that I now realise is probably the best thing we could have done after arriving back from such a long time abroad.
Living with friends through their weekly lives was completely different to catching up over a beer or spending a long weekend with them. This way, we got a real insight into our sorely missed friends lives and their realities. It helped me to understand them better and really get to know them on a level that is hard to maintain when normally we are all too busy being busy.
Slotting into someone else’s routine and weekly schedule has helped me to slot back into the UK. Doing ‘normal’ things like having a weekly roast dinner and a walk, to witnessing how other people deal with the punches every day life throws at them have all helped to nurture me back into an English existence.
After being on the move all the time, it was good to slow down gradually rather than halting to a stop. We could take stock and appreciate the journey we had just completed. We could also observe our home land in a different way, Look at it with new eyes and appreciate things that we took for granted. Drinking water,l the underground ( heaven forbid!)
This change would have been too abrupt and I don’t think I could have coped if it wasn’t for the transition we we lucky enough to have. Funnily, the horrendously long Megabus journeys and reliance on cheap public transport has been a savior. Having a bit of a struggle and adventure has maintained a level of excitement and an essence of challenge that I would have craved if I had been sat in a house somewhere with nowhere to go!
Our friends have been the biggest savior. It has been an epic 7 months back in the UK. The hardest part of travel is coming home. We already have the next trip in mind and have truly been bitten by the travel bug. Yet coming home reminds you even more what you missed. Friends. Ale. Walks in the park. A crackling fire in winter. Sarcastic humour. Dinner parties around friends houses. The rolling countryside.
Everyone who welcomed us in, fed and watered us and offered us an unlimited roof over our heads are true friends, which is hard to find when traveling as you are on the move. There is no place like home, but the pull of the road is overwhelming!