Monday arrived, and with it, it was time for me to head back to Adelaide for Christmas. There were some things still to do in Cambridge before I left, I met with my supervisor in the morning, before heading back home to do the last of my packing. I went out and bought myself a Cambridge Uni jumper to show off back in Adelaide. By the time the afternoon came, I hauled my bags out to the bus stop at Parker’s Piece. I waited around for my bus to eventually arrive, put my big bike bag underneath and climbed aboard. I would be returning in over a month’s time.
My bus went the long way around from Cambridge to Heathrow, stopping off at Luton airport on the way. I seemed to have caught the long bus, but I arrived into Heathrow with plenty of time to spare. I checked in, dropped of my bag and my bike, and went through to my gate without much fuss. It took some time sitting around in the airport until finally we were boarding and I was back on my way to Australia.
Since I had booked many months in advance, Cathay Pacific had allowed me to choose my seats early as well, so I was able to book the seat with extra legroom just before the vestibule. That meant I wasn’t cramped for room the entire flight to Hong Kong, and nor would I be for the connecting flight into Adelaide. There wasn’t much drama on either flight; we arrived into Hong Kong on time. Changing planes was easy; they were parked at adjacent gates. After just over an hour in Hong Kong, we were back in the air heading for Australia
My flight landed into Adelaide early on Wednesday morning. Checking through customs and immigration was a fairly quick process, and I found myself outside into the crisp Adelaide air soon afterwards. However, my sister Indy, who was to be picking me up, still hadn’t arrived yet, so I had to wait around for a while for her to get there. It was lovely to see her when she did arrive, and we drove home through the familiar city of Adelaide. Once I got there, I began unpacking slowly, trying to spend as much time in the sun as I could to alleviate my jet lag. I went out and played frisbee with the dog, Stella, who had only been a little pup when I had left. Dad was out landscaping his garden, so I went out and helped him for a bit, and Mum came home from work a little after that. It was reliving to be back in the home I’d known for so many years.
On Thursday, I decided to head out to visit Nana. She had recently moved into a retirement community in Lobethal, and I wanted to see where she was now living. I drove over to her place, and she showed me around. It was smaller, but more manageable than her old place, though she felt that she was now living closer to a lot of her old friends. We went up to the bakery in the main street together, and sat around for a while over some bread rolls. Good bakeries are something I was sorely missing in Cambridge, and I was glad to be back around quality pastry and bread products.
That afternoon, I drove down in to the city, parking on the outskirts. I walked in through the very familiar streets to my old university, the University of Adelaide. It was all so very familiar, like I had never left. I went up to my old office and knocked on the door, and was greeted excitingly by many of my old friends. We sat and chatted for a bit, they showed me all the things that had changed about the office and department since I had left, which other than furniture didn’t turn out to be much, and we quickly devolved back into the usual conversational dynamics.
After grabbing some lunch, they invited me to stick around for a dungeons and dragons session that they were hosting that evening. Before that, though, we needed some dinner. I insisted on heading out for a chicken parmigiana, a meal you can get at almost any pub in Australia but is seemingly non-existent in the UK. We went out to a gourmet schnitzel pub, which had dozens of options on the menu. It was great, and just what I had been craving for the past few months. We headed back into the office for the dungeons and dragons session, finishing late and getting home later.
On Friday, I headed back into the City again, this time armed with paperwork as it was time for me to renew my passport. Over the time I had in Adelaide, I needed to get the application sent off, approved, and have my passport sent back to me. I knew it would be done in time, but I still needed to get it in early to get it back in time for me to fly home. Once my documents had been handed in to the post office, I headed out to my old uni again to catch up with the people there. It had been over a year since I had seen most of them, but yet I still managed to fit in just fine. I went home that afternoon, and after dinner we went for a family walk up the hill to the ridgeline, which gives views out to the sea and the sunset beyond.
On Saturday, I decided it was time to unpack my bike and go for a ride around the Adelaide Hills. I knew these roads very well, I had been cycling and driving around them all of my life. I knew my favourite roads and where I liked to go cycling. On top of that list was Corkscrew Road, a narrow road that twists back and forward through some steep hairpins near the top, hence the name. I invited Mum to come along, together we rode down the Gorge, and up the famous climb. It was tough, but I enjoyed being back on roads I knew well. The problem was that my gears weren’t indexed properly and kept slipping throughout the ride, as we rode back through Lenswood. Nevertheless, it was a worthwhile trip.
That evening, the entire family went down to the local pub for the Cudlee Creek Country Fire Service Christmas Dinner. Dad had been involved as a firefighter for the past few decades, and every year it was an opportunity for the volunteers in the community to catch up and relax. It was a three course meal, but completely contrary in formality and etiquette to the meals I had become used to in Cambridge. There were lots of people there I knew, and they were all eager to ask me about how I was doing in England.
Sunday was again, a relaxing day. Mum and I took the mountain bikes up into the forest behind our place, where they had made some new mountain biking trails over the past year, and I wanted to check them out. We climbed one, called Climbing Ivy, that steadily zig-zagged its way up the slope. Mum complained that it took too long, and preferred to go up the wide, central track. We then came down the valley again, and back home.