Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Living Abroad Matters Four - Charming Debut

My Delightful Foray into Yorkshire and Andrew Dazzles London

Is it possible to arrive an hour early and still almost miss your train? Yes. I show up at Kings Cross station all CCC (Cool, Calm and Collected) but somewhere between the cappuccino and the blur of rushing passengers, I get KIT (my Knickers In a Twist).

The sign says my train to Leeds leaves from Platform QB. What the! This is commuter code for Queue at ‘B’. Conflustered (confused and flustered at the same time), I join the queue and when the crowd surges, I surge too and I’m about to board a First Class Fast Train to Somewhere Else.

Just in the nick of time I recall the motto I learnt as a cadet journalist from Big Ed: It’s better to ask a stupid question than make a stupid mistake. An apple-cheeked angel heading for Inverness points me to the correct platform and I jump my train five minutes before departure.

So now I am indulging in my own private party with my ipod of favourite Gospel, Irish and Country tunes on shuffle, I’m skimming my new copy of Psychologies magazine and taking my emotions on a ride. As the sun streams through the window, I’m gazing at vivid yellow fields of Rapeseed flowers, passing quaint cottages, black-faced sheep and jersey cows lying in lush meadows. A moment of bliss arises in a sensual swirl of music, movement and genteel countryside.

I’m off to visit my new chums, Hattie and Mica up north in Yorkshire; pure Bronte country. I “met” Hattie last year through ecademy on-line business networking club and formed a strong friendship through months of heartfelt email exchanges. Now we’re meeting face-to-face, with teary hugs.

“Are you kidding! This can’t be for real!” I exclaim as we arrive in her charming historic village of bluestone terraces set on a miniature road nestled in rolling velvet hills. I’ve stepped out of the rugged landscapes of Australia into Enid Blyton’s magic land. Cup of tea with Mica and Hattie in the back garden and dog tales as I meet Leila, an affectionate German Shepherd, and Elka, a regal, aloof and complex canine related to the Pyrenees Mountain Dog bred for solitary guarding of flocks in remote terrain.

What is it with the mountain theme? That night we attend an XL business meeting and Eric Edmeades, a good looking guy with a seductive Canadian accent, woes me with a soul-stirring and breathtaking (literally) video of his SYATT (See You At The Top) adventure tours climbing Kilimanjaro and I’m all set to go! Yeah count me in!

Next morning, I interview the gals about their amazing project to stage an Extraordinary Global Ball simultaneously in eight locations around the world with proceeds going to The Hunger Project. Then we set off for a gentle ramble around the Yorkshire hills.

I am gob smacked by the endless natural beauty and madly snapping picturesque scenes every second. We’re ambling along a country road with the eager hounds, casting an eye upward across fields dotted with spring lambs at the misty foothills of the Pennines. We round a bend to another ancient village evoking centuries of human stories and onward to woods of wild blue bells, a tranquil canal, a lazy old long boat and we pet three pretty ponies grazing in the afternoon sunshine.

Saturday sees me back on the train to the Big City and swept into Andrew’s loving arms after his jaunt in Edinburgh with new business buddy Matthew and reunion with long lost brother Pip of Polo Chef glory. Then Sunday arvo sees us sprawled in Hyde Park on a picnic rug with son Daniel and mate Marcus, fresh from a sojourn in Thailand, hanging out with their languid, luscious gal pals and throwing the frisbee in a vain attempt to attract more female attention.

Change of pace Monday. Back on the Tube for a rendezvous with Durelle, my Sunshine Coast friend, soul sister and fellow adventurer who is enroute after living in Israel for a year. We’re both bubbling over with anecdotes, laughter and tears. Then we’re off in different directions. Durelle is heading home for some seaside rest before her next trip somewhere in Africa and I am about to have a revelation.

I have a confession to make. I didn’t know my husband was so brilliant and talented. I am ashamed to say I didn’t fully appreciate him until now. So the scene is set. Andrew is the presenter at the XL Momentum meeting in London with more than 100 enthusiastic business people keen to devour his precious pearls of wisdom.

But Daniel’s introduction has them chuckling with delight. “This guy has been my mentor. He has had a huge impact on my personal growth. In fact when I first met him I was speechless for two years! But he spoon-fed me, taught me to crawl before I could walk. He built Legos with me, read stories to me, sang songs…”

Growing up, Daniel was the funniest, cheekiest kid and he and Andrew bounced off each with non-stop gags and hilarious impersonations and routines. I swear when Daniel left home, Andrew lost his comedy side-kick and his sense of humour wilted. Tragic but true. But tonight, basking in his son’s radiance, he’s got his mojo back! His presentation is entertaining, fast-paced and informative. He has the audience enthralled and cracking up at his scintillating wit, brash jokes and zany slide show!

I am beaming with pride. This is Andrew’s starring moment, the culmination of years of study and work and it is just the beginning of his success in the UK. Requests for coaching, profiles and public speaking come pouring in. He’s the popular new kid on the block, the greatest thing since sliced bread! Andrew is off and racing…and I’m right here by his side, in the passenger seat, just trying to keep up on this exhilarating journey!

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