― Truman Capote, A Diamond Guitar
After a particularly challenging period in my personal life, I have decided to embark upon a major trip at the end of November. There may well be a few more legs to the experience but currently only the first two are planned.
On the first leg, I am going to spend a week in the New York area. I am going to meet up with old friends on Long Island and do a couple of poetry readings, as well as see some sights in Manhattan (I've been there before but there is always lots more to do!). I am looking forward to it.
I am flying up there. I did seriously consider renting a car and driving up to New York. It would have been great to visit friends in North Carolina and Pennsylvania en route, but in the end I decided that the expense and hassle were a little too much for my budget - part of the problem being making the journey during the Thanksgiving period (I've still not got fully used to the American calendar).
The second leg of the journey will be an Atlantic flight from JFK over to Blighty (that's an affectionate name for England/Britain, if you're not familiar with it!).
I'm going to spend some time with my family in the English Lake District, hopefully scale at least one mountain (maybe England's highest mountain, Scafell Pike this time? Although that might be a little optimistic in the middle of Winter, I don't know?).
I also want to spend time with my brother and his family down on the south coast of England in the Brighton area. It would be great to visit others too, and maybe even go over to continental Europe if my finances allow.
I will be heading back to the USA at some point in the new year.
Things that I have missed about the UK
• Friends and family, of course.
• Fish and chips with mushy peas.
• World class Indian food at very low prices.
• Cheese and onion pasties.
• A creamy, foamy pint of real ale in a centuries old pub.
• The sweeping hills, mountains, lakes, and dales of Cumbria and Yorkshire.
• The dry English sense of humour. It sometimes feels like every other person you meet is a quality comedian in the UK, and the perception that life is more than a little absurd is common. Americans in general take life more seriously and the humour can be less subtle.
Things I will miss about Florida/the USA
• All my friends here, who have become as important to me as my old friends back in England.
• The openness, warmth and friendliness of Americans generally. The English, as we all know, are more reserved.
• The Florida sunshine and beaches.
• The exotic wildlife.
• My tennis exploits and my tennis comrades.
• The space. Lots of space in the US. Everything can seem a little cramped in Europe when you return. Driving is a completely different experience, not so much because of the driving on the left hand side thing in the UK, more that everything feels more pushed in, busier, and narrower.
• Last but not least, the cafe bar at Lucky's Market, my peaceful little port in a stormy world.