September 2016 – holidays and back to work

In September we revisited the Brecon Beacons, for a wet, but lovely, walking weekend with friends, and Bergerac and Bordeaux, the region of France where we had our honeymoon five years ago.

We love this region of France:

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Ancient towns

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Beautiful countryside and vineyards
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Classic roadside French restaurants

The food and wine are amazing and the French countryside was just what we needed to really unwind. I was allowed to drive, so I enjoyed pootling along the quiet French roads to nearby bakeries, chateaus and ancient towns. We enjoyed tasting the wine at vineyards (I’ll write more about this soon), and testing the grapes off the vines. After nearly three years of prohibition, we loved just being able to open a bottle of wine to accompany a picnic in the park – and it being completely acceptable to be drinking at lunchtime. Also, the weather was glorious, so we took the opportunity to soak up some sun in preparation for the UK winter ahead.

With our new, relaxed, American attitude to travel we also squeezed in an afternoon in Bordeaux just before our flight:

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Just a light lunch!
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Fun on the riverside

However, September was also the month when we got real about work. R decided that the transitional job he had taken to ease our way back to the UK was not really for him, so started the business of leaving. Meanwhile, I had been working in project management/administration part-time and was now about to take on a second job by going back to teach at university again.

As an academic, September’s always felt like the beginning of a new year. I get my hair cut, visit the dentist, and buy new work clothes. This year was no exception. I’d had a gentle reintroduction to UK academic life as I attended conferences in May, July, and the big UK Victorian conference at the end of August, but this was the month when I returned to Queen Mary as a Teaching Associate.

Weirdly, it felt like I had never been away. Nothing seemed to have changed much, and in a way it was wonderful to just slot back in as if nothing had happened. In another way, though, it made it felt like the last two and half years in the States really hadn’t happened – what had I been doing all that time? Had I really not changed at all?

Still, at this point I was just happy to be busy and working in a university again with no visa restrictions!

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