This is so cliché but I tell you….there has never been anything more true! Went out-of-town to Birmingham for a few days to visit my uncle and his family. It was both a fun visit as much as a necessity. In Nigeria, it’s sort of expected that you visit all those who attended or contributed towards your child’s naming ceremony (sort of like our christening…..but it’s done 7 days after the child is born). Over here, it would probably be acceptable to send thank you cards but especially as this is family, that just wouldn’t do.
Apart from going over to say thank you, I do enjoy going over there. We get to leave London for a while and little man gets to spend some time with his cousin plus this time, it was my daughter’s first trip out-of-town too;-). I often feel sorry for kids born over here you know, especially during that period before they start Nursery. They are cooped up indoors for most of the year thanks to winter, they hardly ever get to play outdoors unless you’ve got a house with a garden which isn’t always often with young families. Even if you are lucky enough to have a garden and equip it with lovely outdoorsy kind of toys, your child will more often than not play in there all by themselves; at least until the siblings start to come along.
I remember my childhood growing up in Nigeria. We used to rush home from school and before even eating, would get changed so we could go outside and play with other kids. I’m talking those days when it was ok for kids to play in the middle of the road if you lived in an estate because there wasn’t a lot of traffic and because everyone had common sense. This was before the rumours of children being kidnapped and people loosing vital organs of their body when they spoke to strangers (always found that one hard to believe!). We would stay out role-playing and sharing each others toys until it just started getting dark, by which time we were all so knackered, it was straight to bed after dinner. Our parents never really had to worry where we were or what we were doing as long as they could see us out the window. And for the more affluent kids, there was always a larger than life compound, securely fenced so you could play to your heart’s content without the worry of being kidnapped or being interrupted by other kids. It was also very unlikely that you would ever be playing alone, there was always an unending supply of family, cousins, nephews, nieces, uncles and aunties who would have lived with you during the course of your childhood. Thinking about it now, I really do miss that communal feel about living and growing up in Nigeria. No matter how bad it gets, you just always know that you’re not alone, you’re never really far away from family and friends…..I miss that.
I do enjoy going to Birmingham. There’s just something about the fact that you’re leaving your house, a different environment, the journey and sightseeing that makes it seem worthwhile even though we hardly ever go anywhere while we’re there. It’s just too much of a bother getting out and about in a city I’m not used to, so unless the uncle is taking us, we stay put, therefore, I haven’t really seen a lot of the town. I still tend to see it as a mini break though because I don’t really need to worry about cooking and other domestic stuff while I’m there. I’m usually needed more in a supportive capacity. My sister -in- law is one of the best cooks I know in the world! Trust me…..she makes a mean ‘Efo Riro’, a popular Nigerian delicacy made from spinach and chilli with an assortment of meat and dried fish…..hmmm yum! Don’t even get me started on her jollof rice……pure heaven.
I also tend to save money on my hairdo for the next month, as my sister-in-law is also a talented hair dresser, therefore, no trip to Birmingham is complete without a new hairdo. And as prices tend to be ridiculously high in London even for the most basic styles, I get great value for next to nothing. Did I mention that I’ve got the most amazing sister-in-law? ;-)
So while I was away being spoilt silly by family, home was always on my mind even though our hosts did everything humanly possible to ensure we were comfy; my thoughts were just never far away from home. Even climbing the stairs reminded me of our narrow our own staircase was compared to theirs. I hate cooking in any other kitchen apart from mine so you can imagine my frustration at having to look for where everything was just to make noodles for little meanwhile my sister-in-law was out. I missed my bed, my sofa, my living room, my kitchen, my own plates, my bathroom (even though my uncle’s is much bigger and nicer). I even missed watching my own telly as silly as that sounds.
I had a lovely time away but words can’t describe the feeling that washed over me when I stepped back into my living room, even little man was excited to be back considering how exhausted he was, he dashed straight to his toys and bicycle and he kept touching them over and over like he hadn’t seen them in years!
It’s put into perspective the reason why our guests who often come to the UK on holiday from Nigeria are always excited to go back home. I once asked them how it was that they could possibly look forward to going back to Nigeria considering the state of affairs there and they simply said…..”The UK is lovely but there is no place like home”.