I am not sure what I expected upon our return visit to the UK this summer but I’m pleasantly surprised that for me at least it is very much a case of picking up where I left off in 2014. I imagined that there might be a greater discontinuity or even culture shock but it hasn’t as yet been manifest.
Perhaps the effects of Social Media, FaceTime, the BBC News App on my phone and a 4G has meant that a tenuous link to the UK remained even though I was well off the beaten track in Mwanza.
We are in the midst of a week long return to MK and yesterday had a great time catching up with old friends at St Mary’s Bletchley. Whilst much had changed in the Church Yard, it seemed to us that it was very much the same SMB we left in 2014. It was good to be part of that community again. MK itself seems little different – a few new buildings in this ever changing new city but familiar nonetheless.
We have all got older of course and the changes are most apparent in the friends of our children and in the older folk we have met. Even so most people are as they were. Here lies the most obvious difference.
I suppose the past two years for us have opened us to a very different way of life and a plethora of experiences. Yet perhaps outwardly we have changed little too other than a slight tan and the use of a few expat colloquialisms. Yet sitting here in MK, we are visitors, curious onlookers no longer residents.
I wonder whether the longer we are away from Britain, the bigger the differences will become.
It’s strange to think that as I finish my afternoon at school, my erstwhile colleagues will just be starting their lunch break. It is amazing to think that somewhere in the world some one is waking up at this moment, somewhere else at the exact same instant someone is going to bed. Someone eats breakfast at the same instant as another eats a midday snack, yet another has their evening meal.
Currently (for the next two to three weeks at least) there is a three-hour difference between UK time and Tanzanian time, before the UK lurches forward into BST. So here is my daily routine converted into GMT.
The alarm goes of at 2:50am and by 3:15am we are up and about. Sunrise is at 4am or there abouts.
After a shower and breakfast we leave the house by 4:30am at the latest. It’s a short walk to school which starts at 4:55am with Assembly or Tutor. Lessons start at 5:15am with a break from 7:45am to 8:05am – a time my old colleagues are getting into work in the UK. Lunch is at 9:45am and afternoon sessions begin at 10:30am. The school day ends at 12:15pm after wich there are meetings or clubs until 1:30pm. Then home and for me Language school (Tue-Thu) from 2pm to 3pm. We tend to eat our evening meal by 3:30pm and sun sets by 4pm.
If we are out at night from 4:30pm until 7pm. If I am working of an evening over a similar time period or an hour later. I tend to go to bed about 9pm , sometimes 9:30pm (which means that sometimes I am blogging /posting from tomorrow as far as the UK is concerned).
Weekends, we get a lie in until 5am on a Saturday when I either head off to Prep (5:30am until 7am) and Saturday School (from 7am until 8am). Then we are often in town shopping until 11am. If the children are off to youth group then it runs from 12noon until 2pm. We might watch a DVD if we are in (from 5pm until 7pm). Even though we could watch some UK TV on iPlayer most of the good TV will be on after 11pm.
Sunday church runs from 6:45 am until 8am. Then home for lunch (10am), a phone call home can be as early as 1pm or as late as 6pm varying from week to week. We might go out for a walk from 12noon to 2pm. An evening meal and some TV (DVD’s or iPlayer downloads). Then it’s to bed by 8:30pm or 9pm ready for an early start!
So here is our life as lived as if at GMT. If you live elsewhere in the world what is yours?