Checking the departures board for Flight No. Lon 531 from Doha to Heathrow and heady with excitement on the trip back to my old homestead, I queued among hundreds of other expats to be checked out of Doha for the summer at least. Feeling almost the same sense of satisfaction as ones feels on having completed a year in college or a having completed the stock-take at work, I was able to retreat to Ireland for some well deserved respite.
Boarding the airbus, carrying my most treasured possessions, teething gel, my Baby and a plastic musical bee, I pondered momentarily on the day I left for Doha, boarding in Cork, carrying my most treasured possessions, my iPhone, Lancome all-night repair cream and my Ballenciaga handbag, tearful having said the final goodbyes but looking forward to a few crisp glasses of Pinot Grigio accompanied by Pate and Cheese snacks mid-air whilst on my way to my new abode, little did I think that a year later, my juicy tube would be replaced by Bonjela and my Laboutins be replaced by a pair of Jesus sandals.
Seven hours later, traumatized and tired, we arrived in Heathrow, where we underwent a string of security checks, which I understand are a must for a large proportion of the population but surely I was exempt, alas, I was not. 2 ounces (UK oz) of baby bottle later, patience had worn thin and tensions ran high, having walked the equivalent of a mini marathon from Terminal 3 to the bowels of Terminal 1 for my Aer Lingus flight, only to be told, it was delayed. Hours later, on arrival on Irish soil, the excitement was palpable while waiting at the baggage carousel. Jesus sandals, skinny jeans and a renewed view of Ireland, I walked through the “nothing to declare” section. Fully prepared for the onslaught of welcome-home balloons, banners and bunting, I sheepishly looked around the arrivals lounge for my party. No sign. Maybe I had proved a little too efficient and so I decided to wait for a few minutes in case everyone got delayed. Forty five minutes later, I resigned myself to the fact that no-one was coming. Sitting in the taxi, smelling the stale smoke and admiring the lush green surroundings, it was when the taxi driver said “67.50 love, do you need a hand with the bags?” that I awoke from my 10 month reverie, and popped my rose-tinted glasses back in their case. Somehow the satisfaction I envisaged from returning to my highly polished and “on-hold” lifestyle escaped me.
Two days rain, the price of petrol and an argument over temporary wi-fi connection with a telecom company while I rang a premium rate number later ensured that the high-gloss veneer was stripped off my view of coming home and replaced by a more distressed finish. Unable to escape from the media coverage of the fall of the nation, I became bombarded with talks of MABS, NAMA, water meter charges, associated septic tank charges, increasing tax levies etc etc, desperately seeking moratorium from the doom and gloom, I fled my beautifully finished former lifestyle for the second time in a year. Taking myself and my brood to the comfort and familiarity of my parents house, where they bounced their new grandson on their knee and made more pots of tea in a day than there are flights out of Heathrow and the row over the immersion and a butter laced dinner of bacon and cabbage proved the ingredients essential for a happy homecoming.
With my previous profile dulling by the second it was clear that something had changed over the year, a set of values that weren’t there before raise their heads and were replaced by guess what, a real appreciation of home