I love this time of year. When the only reason you need to meet up with friends and family is its Christmas. The perfect reason to rekindle friendships that may have got lost throughout the busy year.
An excuse to put on your comfiest clothes and get snuggled up under a cosy blanket watching those classic films that you re-watch every year.
Yet at the same time the perfect excuse to get your sparkle on and celebrate the end of another year (whether its been a good one or not) with those closest to you.
Somehow despite the cold and the dark we have created a celebration of all things light. Of family, of friendship, of happiness and love. A time to reflect and be thankful and spend time with those we hold dear.
Only this year, for me, it’s a little different.
For starters I’m half the world away from all those people that would normally fill my life and in the 9 months that I’ve been away it’s the first time where I’ve really felt the distance.
It also just doesn’t feel like Christmas here.
Yes, I can watch the films, listen to the music and put up the decorations but Christmas is a northern hemisphere concept. It’s a winter festival, conceived to bring light at the darkest point in the year. There’s a reason why it falls just days after the shortest day of the year.
Australia is everything opposite. It’s hot and sunny and the days are at their longest.
These stark differences have also got me thinking about all the other things that I miss about home while I’m travelling.
so I thought I would share them with you in the spirit of reflection that so often is a part of Christmastide. How many of them do you miss when you’re on the road?
My Parents Cooking
For those that know me even just a little bit you will know how much I hate cooking.
Sure, I can cook, and I reckon I’m alright at it (definitely better than Bridget Jones anyway!) but I cook so that I can eat.
So, to travel on my own, having to cook for myself most of the time has been, well, a challenge. A challenge I believe that I am rising to, but it doesn’t negate the fact that I haven’t had a proper roast dinner in almost 9 months, and that my friends is bordering on blasphemy.
You see, back home almost without fail we have a roast dinner of some variety every single Sunday.
It is probably my favourite dinner going, especially when the roast meat in question is beef. Fighting over the end pieces, the Yorkshire puddings, crispy roast parsnips and potatoes, chopped up carrots and turnips and of course lashings of gravy.
My mouth is watering just thinking about it. My parents roast dinner is so famous throughout my friends that some have been known to invite themselves round – even when I’m not there!
There are of course other dishes that no matter what never quite taste like my parents. I’m talking about my mum’s lasagne oozing with a thick top layer of cheese sauce and of course their own take on hunter’s chicken. Chicken wrapped in bacon cooked in BBQ sauce and smothered in cheese. I mean who doesn’t like the sound of that?
There are some recipes I have with me that I can make on the road though.
The quick and easy kind.
The ones that don’t need an oven because you know that’s something that hostel kitchens generally lack.
They go some way to alleviate that longing but, as I’m sure you probably know, there really isn’t anything like your parents cooking because it’s not just about how they make it.
It’s because it tastes like home.
It wasn’t until a couple of months into my adventures here in Australia that when I found myself in one spot for several weeks that I realised just how rubbish Australian TV is.
Or rather just how good British TV is.
Yes, like everyone I am guilty of complaining that there is nothing worth watching on TV. However, in Australia that is probably true more often than not.
Sure, they show a lot of sport which I’m all up for but I’m talking about your TV series.
The dramas, the mini-series, the sitcoms (and not just the American ones that they have bought the rights to air to), the documentaries.
There are a few but nothing like the shows that grace the British television screens. In fact, they seem so unable to come up with their own ideas that they have taken to re-creating their own version of British TV shows. Most notably these include the chase and pointless and their cheesy morning TV show that is like a knock-off version of This Morning.
Now maybe this is because has this outdoor culture running through it, so it doesn’t make sense to invest in awesome TV shows if there aren’t going to be people sat indoors watching TV.
Maybe I shouldn’t be as bothered about this as I am. Afterall, I’m here traveling and there is so much to see and do in this huge country that I shouldn’t have time to sit and watch TV.
True, but then it’s the shows that I’m missing back home.
The ones that I have religiously tuned in to watch year on year. You know the ones, Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent, Poldark, Doctor Who. T
he shows that I know are moving onto their next series without me. I know I could stream them using a VPN but that’s not always possible due to the Wi-Fi.
Which brings me onto my next point.
I’d heard about the whole Wi-Fi thing before I got here so I was more prepared than others. I still find it hard to believe sometimes though just how slow and unreliable it can be.
Back home you can walk into most café’s, bars, pubs, and more and more frequently hotels which are proudly displaying how you can get on their free Wi-Fi.
Whether this is a good thing or not is a discussion for another time. However, as a traveller the ability to access the internet in the digital world that we live in is pretty essential.
Whether its booking the next place to stay, searching for a job or staying in touch with those back home there’s always something that needs the internet.
While the big cities offer their own free Wi-Fi that you can connect to while out and about it isn’t always reliable.
True a lot of hostels do include Wi-Fi in their price. Some, however, are very sneaky and offer a slow-speed only accessible in the common area’s free version with the option to pay to upgrade to a faster, more reliable and accessible throughout the hostel service. Needless to say, this can be somewhat annoying. Especially when they advertise fast internet speeds.
Then there’s the total lack of it. I’m currently working on a dairy farm which includes on-site accommodation for $60AUD per week (very reasonable). The downside is that there is no Wi-Fi. A slightly annoying situation made worse by the patchy phone signal I have at the farm (thanks Optus). This makes accessing the internet via my phone difficult.
Yes, I know this is totally a first world problem but it has amplified the feeling of isolation and thickened the edges of the bubble that I am living in. I know the world is happening out there, but I don’t really know about it. It’s like I’m living in some parallel universe at times and isolation is a breeding ground for thoughts of what once was and of home.
One of the best things about travelling solo is that you get to do and see what you want when you want.
There’s no having to worry about what another person wants to do and having to compromise or not getting to that one thing you had your heart set on because the rest of the group didn’t want to. It also gives you the flexibility when you do meet new people to change your plans pretty quick which is awesome.
However, the flip side is that when something amazing happens there isn’t really anyone there to share that moment with you.
Yes, there might be other people around but sooner or later they will go off in their own direction and you may never see them again. Then you’ve lost that one person that understands how cool it was to see a whale just swimming around while you ate lunch on the beach.
Those little jokes that you had, or the funny moments that upon retelling the story become “you had to be there moments” just become memories that no-one else really understands.
My friends back home are a bunch of crazy awesome people who I’d do almost anything for.
We have our own little jokes and shared moments and traditions.
Take for example Christmas eve, eve. A relatively new little tradition that I helped instigate involving a pre-Christmas night out.
It usually involves pre-drinks at Wetherspoons where I usually knock over a glass of prosecco (seriously I don’t do it on purpose, but it happens!) before heading out to a club.
Obviously, this little tradition is still going ahead this year without me. I wouldn’t have it any other way but it’s the little things like this that have me miss these guys just that little bit more at this time of year.
WhatsApp though is my best friend.
All hail the group chat!
It doesn’t matter where in the world anyone of us we can still share what’s going on in our group chat and it’s like we’re all in the same room.
We may all be getting on with our lives and creating new memories with and without each other but there is always time to share a good meme!
This is a funny one and definitely not something that I thought that I would miss.
The weather is such a huge part of British life, I mean its easily one of our favourite topics of conversation. It’s imperative that you know exactly what the weathers supposed to do so that you can dress to combat it.
That’s not really the case over here. Sure, it gets cold in winter in the south, but the weather just isn’t as changeable as back home and I’ve gone days and days without checking the forecast and been fine.
Then there’s the opposite seasons.
Now it’s December and it’s the beginning of Summer which feels odd to say and even weirder to feel. It definitely puts a dampener on the build up to Christmas.
The nights are definitely not drawing in and there is zero chance of any snow. Yet the traditional Christmas decorations are still there.
There’s no chance of getting all cosy under a blanket, sheltering from the cold outside. It’s too warm for mulled wine, hot chocolate and ice skating outdoors.
Plus, Christmas markets don’t seem to be a thing – although I am in a small town and this may not be the case in the big cities.
There is a reason why they have “Christmas in July” here. At least then the weather is more amenable to Christmas in the Norther Hemisphere
For now, though, while there are things I miss about home, I am not yet ready to go back. Bouts of homesickness are always going to happen when you travel for long periods, especially at this time of year.
However, there are so many more things to see, do and explore here in Australia for starters. So, watch out for more adventures coming your way in the New Year.
Until Next Time
I wish you a very Merry Christmas
And Adventurous New Year!