I had one of those "calls" and returned to the UK on Saturday.
We arrived here in Adelaide in April, so not been here for that long really, but boy did i ever have a shock when i returned.
The flights were as good as to be expected, Qantas & staff were great, the BA bit of the flight was awful, however....
Arrived on Sunday at Heathrow, there were random foreign staff members/cleaners in the corridor areas etc but none said hello, passport control was a couple of indian/oriental origin people, on to customs clearance - 1 random oriental guy...no smiley faces! Through the doors out to the blast of freezing wind/gales blowing through T4, i asked a man in a high vis jkt for directions to the pickup point, he didnt speak english so couldnt help me...i then got a text from my dad that he was held up in the snow and to get a coffee etc...
so off i trot to change some money up, get served by an indian guy, on to starbucks, stand behind 2 carpark attendants in the queue - both chatting away in eastern eurpoean, get served by an asian lad - receive my coffee from a polish girl...sat down hugging my coffee - it was -1 brrr and wind chill on top of that as the external automatic doors had been propped open.
still at this point no one had said hello!
mmmm welcome to the yUk i thought!
So i finally get to Cheltenham and after a couple of hours i set off to town with my mum on the bus to get a load of photos copied - we spent 2hrs in town, got the bus back and that evening commented to my mum that i had overheard 3 english conversations all day! If my mum lived in London/Birmingham etc it might not have been such a surprise...no english on the buses/in shops etc.
The manager in Jessops was vile...it was 3.30 and i wanted to get my pics of my nephew copied for my bro & SIL, he said i wouldnt have time to scan them (12pics) but as i needed them for the next day i insisted on at least trying - he told me if i wasnt done by 4 it was tough he was turning the machines off! it took me 7mins..arsehole!
I was taken aback at how closed in i felt, almost claustraphobic, and how grey things looked, OK i know its November but everything just looked grey, buildings etc, even people...
Monday - had to do sad stuff like florists/newspaper announcement etc, so in town again, again surprised at the number of foreigners and the greyness of it all...and starting to feel a little ill with it all.
I was 'sad' and went back into town to get some marmite...put more pics in, popped into Primark, cheap but fun clothes for my teen - yay shes sorted for Xmas...
Town was surprisingly busy, people bustling everywhere, i got run over by an old witch in her mobility scooter - now ive spent 3mths on one of them myself so know you can manouvre them quite easily, and not even a sorry, people pushed in, no queue systems, i was pushed out of the doorway of a lift!!! by teen chavs n their prams. Town was a horrid experience.
My lil bro got back from Russia and took me n my SIL out for dinner - we were the only ones in the restaurant.
Tuesday was beautiful blue skies and although freezing cold was a beautiful day for the funeral.
Wednesday, i drove to the best chippie in Chelt - had my fish cooked freshly, got back to my mums and the paper was soggy with grease, loaded up our plates etc and ended up having to scrape the congealed fat off the work surfaces. The fish/cod was lush, but the batter was full of fat and although i didnt eat it all i felt ill and clogged with it.
Driving was an experience, people complain at the ignorant drivers here in Adelaide, well theyve got nowt on drivers in Chelt, i was actually fearful for myself and my bros car! Ignorant/rude/fast/aggressive drivers, roads that are way to small for the traffic, poor cyclists getting cut up all the time, people jumping red lights, beeping horns at people crossing at zebra crossings...i was stunned!
My bro dropped me at T4 that evening, he couldnt face coming in and literally just dropped me off, i dragged my case to the lifts, asked an attendant where i could find a trolley - he said to go look round downstairs!
Now safely back in OZ i can safely say i am never returning to the UK! I wouldnt have stayed there any longer if i was paid to.
(not my family, as they have reason to be depressed, but people on the streets)
People are/look so depressed/ing, everything looks grey, streets are dirty, covered in leaves - they fell off the trees weeks/months ago but are still clogging the streets...staff are rude/dont care, hardly any 'customer service' staff were english and were giving off an even bigger dont give a toss attitude.
The papers are so depressing, nothing funny or nice in them - just doom/gloom.
Its so small and closed in, the sun couldnt get to you if it tried.
The only person who put themselves out to be nice/polite was the waiter/barman in the restaurant and he was Welsh.
One consolation is my nephew was buried in the sunshine in the most beautiful part of Chelt, at the bottom of the hills and will always be in the sun if it shines.