A visit to the UK

Phillip & Charlotte at Matt’s birthday sports afternoon © Ricky Yates

On Friday 16th July, I set out to make my first return visit to the UK since moving to Prague nearly two years ago. The five day trip was part holiday – spending sometime with my son Phillip in Derby; and part work – fulfilling a promise made earlier in the year to undertake a deputation visit for the Intercontinental Church Society (ICS) who prayerfully and financially support the work of the Prague Chaplaincy.

As usual, the wonderful Prague public transport system got me from the bus stop, five minutes walk from the Chaplaincy flat, to the front entrance of Terminal 1 at Prague Airport, in little more than thirty minutes. Much more surprisingly, my Easyjet flight was taxiing down the runway at 10.45, exactly the time it was meant to be departing from Prague. Less than two hours later, we landed in the UK though, because of the one hour time difference, it was only 11.40 BST.

I flew into the rather incongruously named ‘Robin Hood Airport’ which serves Doncaster and Sheffield in South Yorkshire. At the end of 2009, Easyjet ceased to operate out of East Midlands Airport, the airport that serves Derby, and passed the Prague – East Midlands route to bmibaby.com. In their wisdom, bmibaby.com have suspended their Prague – East Midlands flights during July and August, presumably because it is more profitable to use their planes to fly British tourists to the Costas in Spain or the Greek islands during this time.

At UK passport control, I had great difficulty stopping myself from saying “Dobrý den” to the immigration officer, instead of saying “Good morning”. This was a problem I continued to have during the following few days, adjusting to the fact that I could actually speak in English and be completely understood. That I needed to say “Thank you” and “Goodbye”, not “Dekuji” and “Na shledanou”.

It was equally strange once I met up with Phillip in the airport car park. I got into the front passenger seat of his right-hand drive (RHD) car, in that respect no different from being in my RHD car in Prague. But he then proceeded to drive on the left-hand side of the road! After nearly two years of travelling or driving on the right-hand side of the road, that took some getting used to once again.

A forty minute drive down the M18 and the M1 got us to Derby. After Phillip had purchased a few things from Morrisons supermarket, I tried to get some Sterling currency out of the nearby ATM, using my Barclays Bank debit card. I had deliberately transferred funds from my Czech bank account to my UK Barclays account to be able to do exactly this. My attempt to withdraw cash was declined – a security measure because I hadn’t used the debit card in the UK for nearly two years!  So, before proceeding to Phillip’s home for a late lunch, we drove to a branch of Barclays Bank plc where I duly produced my passport and debit card with the request that I be allowed to withdraw my own money! I was extremely glad that I had arrived in the UK on a weekday rather than a weekend.

During my visit to the UK, I was asked several times whether there was anything I missed about the UK now I lived in the Czech Republic. My answer was always negative – as things currently stand, I don’t see myself living in the UK again in the foreseeable future. But on that Friday evening, I did do two thoroughly enjoyable things which it would not be possible to do in Prague.

Firstly, en-route to the city centre, Phillip and I purchased our evening meal from a Fish & Chips shop. We then walked slightly further on to the County Ground where we ate our fish and chips, (in Phillip’s case, pie and chips), whilst watching a day/night Twenty20 cricket match between Derbyshire CC and Northamptonshire CC. However, one less enjoyable, (though expected), thing was paying £3.00 a pint (0.568 litre) for a beer whilst watching the cricket when a 0.5 litre beer in most Prague bars would cost no more than £1.00.

The following day, Saturday 17th July, Phillip and his girlfriend Charlotte, had been invited to the birthday celebrations of Matt, a university friend of Phillip who, like Phillip, has stayed on in Derby after graduating. Matt kindly assured Phillip that his Dad was more than welcome to come along with him.

Matt lives with his heavily pregnant wife, in the village of Hilton, just to the west of Derby. For his birthday, he had invited various friends, his brother and sister, together with their respective boyfriends/girlfriends, to a picnic lunch and a sports afternoon on the nearby village playing field. So, after sandwiches, crisps and other goodies, accompanied by a variety of liquid refreshment, we spent the afternoon playing rounders and kwik cricket.

Afterwards, I returned with Phillip and Charlotte to their home. We quickly ate a stir-fry and got washed and changed before we rejoined the others in the centre of Derby where the birthday celebrations were resumed and the following two pictures were taken.

Father and Son © Ricky Yates

Phillip & Charlotte © Ricky Yates

More about my UK trip in my next post.

2 comments to A visit to the UK

  • Ricky, I so identified with this post! I too struggled to stop saying ‘Dobry Den’ and ‘Ahoj’ to every Turk I met when I moved to Istanbul. I too, struggled to adjust to beer prices (and quality) outside of the Czech Republic. Your son looks just like you! I’m glad you were able to enjoy him.

  • Ricky

    Hi Karen, Yes – it is strange once you’ve lived in a place for a certain length of time how it affects the way you think and speak. As for prices, the UK has become quite expensive in recent years. Likewise, I found Turkey quite expensive when we travelled there last year. You’ll never get beer as cheap or of as good a quality as in the Czech Republic though I did find ‘Efes Beer’, the most commonly available Turkish beer, perfectly drinkable.