The last thing I posted on here were some reflections on coming back to the UK. I had just started Chinese classes in Edinburgh and was coming to terms with my early return. I wasn’t sure whether or not I was going to keep posting on here. Despite having several drafts in various stages of completion, I felt like maybe the blog had run its course and that I might be milking it if I kept posting. Plus, with all my classes and starting up all my social and sporting activities again, I suddenly had a lot less time than I had in Dalian!
Now however, things have changed. With the coronavirus now an increasingly serious situation here in the UK (there will definitely be a blog about that one), we are all locked down in our houses, trying to come up with new ways to pass the time. Taking all of that into account, and suddenly with a lot more time on my hands, I figured everyone else has nothing better to do than read any blogs I write!
So first of all, I thought I would catch everyone up with what I got up to on my (reluctant) return. It started, of course, with some bittersweet reunions. My mum met me at the airport which was very tearful and overwhelming. When we got home I woke up Kirsty who, despite being rather unresponsive, was very happy to see me. I went over to my dad’s the next evening to see him AND HAVE THE ALL IMPORTANT REUNION WITH MY DOG. The only person left to see was Amy. She was up in Aberdeen at university but I planned to go up and visit as soon as I could.
Continuing the reunions I went out for dinner that week with my best friend Kathryn and then to Deep Sea World for the day with my friend Amy. I went in to Edinburgh for the weekend to catch up with all my uni friends. Laurence, the only other person from my group that was on a year abroad but in Spain, just so happened to be back that weekend too for some early birthday celebrations.
I finally made it up to Aberdeen about a week after I got home and got to see Amy for the first time in five months!!! We had a great few days that included a trip to the Ythan Estuary to see the seals, an early birthday night out with all Amy’s friends and a visit to the cheese cafe. I also met up with a couple of my own friends who are up in Aberdeen, one of which was at the avocado cafe!
We both went back down to Dunblane together because we had tickets to see the musical Six in Edinburgh at the weekend. A brief moment to praise the wonder that is Six. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if the six wives on Henry VIII formed a pop group, this show is for you. That or you just enjoy six badass women absolutely killing it on stage to songs based on various pop sensations. Amazing. Empowering. Definitely not to be missed. I also got the chance to see the Lion King a few weeks later. I first saw it when I was 12 and in the 10 years since then I’d forgotten just how beautiful and meticulously designed every single aspect of it is. Wow.
For one last visit I went up to Dundee for a night out with my friend Carla. We’ve known each other for several years through water polo, we’ve played on various teams together or against each other over the years. The day I went up just so happened to be a social with the Dundee University Swimming and Water Polo club. The freshers were in charge and turned the tables so they were dressed up as professors and everyone else as students.
My last hurrah before settling back down in Edinburgh was a trip to London. My mum had planned to take my two sisters to London as a birthday trip for both of them, fitting in a few musicals while down there. Now that I was back she told us that she wanted me to go instead of her so that we could have our first trip together, just us three sisters. All I can say is thank you because it was a great few days!
We didn’t have long but we packed a whole lot in, despite a slightly delayed start due to our flight being cancelled. No worries though, we were just put on the next flight two hours later. We started our first night having pizza on Brick Lane with one of Amy’s friends from uni who is on placement down there this year. From there we went for a few drinks in Boxpark in Shoreditch.
Our second day started with a very windy walk from our hotel near the Tower of London to the Breakfast Club, next to Borough Market. A delicious way to kick the day off. From there we headed to Camden and met up with one of my friends, Nina. We wanted to just have a wander around the markets but I was also keen to check out the Vagina Museum, a pop up that opened last year and has an interesting exhibition called ‘Muff Busters’. We battled some horrible weather to get down to Kirsty’s favourite area of the city – the theatre district! We went to the Theatre Cafe, that is all things musical theatre themed, soundtracks on in the background, show posters all around and some very clever drink names (for example I had the Defying Gravi-TEA, green of course). To finish the day we went to Chinatown (a nice throwback for me, sad face) for dinner before seeing Dear Evan Hansen, one of my favourite musicals EVER. And it did not disappoint. There were chills, there were tears, even a momentary technical issue, just because we’re special.
Day three was a little more chilled after our jam packed day two. First off, we had a little adventure to the Garden at 120 – a rooftop garden on the top of a random insurance building in the City of London. It’s got great views down to Canary Wharf and across the river but the views to the north are blocked by the likes of the Gherkin and the Cheese Grater. From there we walked back over to Covent Garden (really getting our steps in) and had lunch in a pizza place over there. We met up with another of my friends, Jesse, and her girlfriend for a few drinks before heading to our second show, Come From Away. It is an incredibly moving musical about a town in Newfoundland, Canada where 28 planes were diverted after 9/11. As you can imagine there are certain scenes that are rather harrowing but the overwhelming impression that you are left with is the strength and openness of humanity.
We left London the next morning and I was back to Edinburgh where the classes that Edinburgh uni had put on for us had started while I was away. I moved in with my friends Jack and Conlan who I had stayed with when I visited Shanghai and had obviously had to come home from China too.
Despite the fact I would much rather have been in China, being back in Edinburgh was great. I was back with all my friends, having catch ups over coffee, nights out, dinner parties, days spent in the library, people’s birthday parties and pizza or game nights. I was also able to join my water polo team, the Queens, again and play in matches. I went up to Dundee and over to Glasgow and Stirling for matches and even managed to get some goals in. I also happened to be back over the time that the club was having its AGM. I had run for a position at the end of my first year but wasn’t successful and didn’t think that I was going to be able to run for any other year. But you are now talking to next year’s Treasurer! There were also plenty of socials, including the alumni weekend which is always a big event in the club calendar. At alumni I got to see Kim who had been working in Shanghai and I’d met up with while I was there and also a girl called Hannah who had been working in Hong Kong, both of whom had also been forced to come home because of the virus.
All in all I packed a lot into the seven or so weeks between fleeing the virus on one side of the world to being locked down because of it on the other. It’s a good thing I did because I’ll be living off those memories for the foreseeable future. In the meantime I hope everyone is staying safe, sane and, most importantly, HOME! There are definitely a few more blog posts coming so I hope they keep you somewhat entertained, or at least pass the time as we ride out this lockdown together.