DEBORAH CROMBIE: Yesterday I passed the halfway point in my almost month-long visit to the UK. The tipping point, I always think of it, and it's usually about then that I suffer an attack of homesickness. This passes pretty quickly, because once I'm on the downside of the trip, I start thinking about all the things I haven't done and wondering how I'm going to cram them into the days or weeks that I have left. But for that little spell in limbo, I've come up with a few cures.
#1--See friends. I've been so blessed on this trip, not only getting to see my English friends, but having a chance to get together with friends from other places who just happen to be in London at the same time. (If you don't know anyone, make friends!)
#2--Eat comfort food. For me, the ultimate comfort food is chicken pot pie, and I had my very favorite chicken pot pie the other night (with friend!) at the Hansom Cab in Earl's Court Road, possibly my favorite London pub.
#3--Thank goodness for Skype, etc., and other means of internet communication that allow you to keep up with friends and family. I talk to Rick every night, and my daughter has been wonderful about sending me photos and videos of Wren every day.
#4--Shop:-) Giving yourself a little mission will definitely chase away the blues. (I should be doing lots of shopping, considering the value of the dollar against the pound, but I'm spending too much money on things like afternoon tea.)
5#--Wherever you are, read a good book. Nothing beats that little nibble of melancholy like a really great read. (The new Peter Grant book by Ben Aaronovitch, THE HANGING TREE, came out today, so I'm good for the foreseeable future.)
#6--Take some time to notice all the little things you love about where you are, like this wonderful twisty tree I saw when I was walking down Earl's Court Road at dusk.
REDS, what are your little secrets for feeling at home when away from home?
HALLIE EPHRON: I can't remember the last loooong trip I've taken alone. Even book tour gets broken up with short stops at home. Having my computer or cell phone with email and Skype keeps me feeling connected, especially to our grandbabies who are changing SO FAST it's breathtaking.
What I miss about home is being able to take a bath. Why can't hotel bathtubs be designed so you can recline and relax? Instead they're built like boxes. Having a glass of wine in the evening helps, too, or at least makes everything look fizzy and fuzzy and warm and relaxed.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I remember getting a real bout of homesickness about half-way through my six months abroad back in college. Maybe it was because I was in Germany, which connects me to my childhood and my family. What did I do? Ate dinner at a McDonalds and took myself to the showing of a new American movie (which, at that time, were being shown in Germany with subtitles.) After months of reading about English theater, British history and European culture, I bought HOTEL NEW HAMPSHIRE by John Irving and read it while drinking Coca Cola. (I bought and read it in Vienna, which was fitting.) While in Vienna, I also met an American boy. It's always heartening to get to know a compatriot in a foreign land. ;-) Probably not the way any of us will get over homesickness nowadays.
LUCY BURDETTE: I'm terribly prone to homesickness, even when traveling with John or a friend. Our longest trip lately was 3 weeks in Australia, two years ago. Luckily I had done the planning and the stop I knew I'd love most was just past hump day. We spent two days at an ecolodge in Cape Otway, right off the incredible Great Ocean Road. The animals were so wonderful (and the food too, and the beer.) The bout of homesickness evaporated in the face of the kangaroos, the koala bears, and the endangered tiger quoll.
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: AH, hmm. DO I get homesick? I do, I guess, if I'm away longer than a few days. I miss Jonathan, and the ease of the familiar. Where I know how the shower works, and that there'll be hot water, and I have more than one room to hang out in. But: There is a lot of enjoyment being on the road: You can't get room service at home, or free slippers, or those chocolate chip cookies. I also like how much work I can get done without the lure of laundry or errands. But at the end of each on-the-road day, I have a cup of tea, and a glass of wine, and watch something indulgent on TV-- and count blessings.
DEBS: Hallie, the fabulous thing about Britain is that almost everywhere has GREAT bathtubs!! (We won't talk about weird plumbing issues like no mixer taps...) See bath in photo above!
And Julia, when I lived in the UK back in the day--when the food was truly awful and you couldn't get a decent glass of wine anywhere--I DREAMED about American hamburgers. The few times I got to London and had burgers at the Hard Rock Cafe in Picadilly were heaven. Now you can get a good burger easily, at least in London and at good pubs. I think GBK (Gourmet Burger Kitchen) is better than anything I get at home.
That is a GBK burger, and there is a GBK just at the corner of the street where I stay sometimes in Earl's Court. Can you say temptation?
READERS, what are your homesickness cures?