Leaving any posting is hard. Hard work physically, packing up your life into boxes, but hard work emotionally too, saying goodbye to people who have become fantastic friends often within a relatively short space of time. It's military life I suppose, but it's not something that ever becomes any easier as time goes on.
Brunei was the hardest place we've ever had to leave. Of course there were things about Brunei itself that were hard to say goodbye to - the climate, the travel opportunities, the Yacht Club, etc - but mainly it was the people. I think it's a function of being abroad and so far from home, but we had found ourselves part of a small and close-knit community amongst which we had made some extraordinarily close friends - lots of colleagues from my school, and also the rest of the British Loan Service community of which we were an active part. We had also recently joined a choir, the Serunai Singers, and as much of our final fortnight in Brunei was taken up with rehearsals for 2 concerts, this too became a new group of people to whom we had to say a sad farewell.
So here's some photos of our final couple of weeks in Brunei:
Goodbye to the Serunai Singers. The concerts were fantastic.
A lovely farewell tea at Pantai Jerudong hosted by Rob's OCS colleagues.
Plenty of 'final lunches' at our various favourite local restaurants.
Celebrating Rob's birthday amongst the chaos of our final few days in the country. Luckily it was also the Loan Service Quiz Night so a very sociable occasion!
Goodbye to Berakas Camp, our home for the past 21 months.
Our final night in Brunei, and a lovely party hosted by our wonderful neighbours. We stayed until after midnight, despite my pregnancy tiredness - we just didn't want to leave.
And our last day in Brunei spent, of course, at the Yacht Club. The lovely Reggie gave us our final meal 'on the house' and we spent the day chatting with both ISB and LS friends. A fitting end to our time there.
But now, 8000 miles and a 17-hour flight later, we're back in the UK.
We landed early in the morning and went straight to spend the day with Rob's nieces and their families. It was fantastic to see everyone again and we were really touched by the effort they had made to welcome us home.
Banner, bunting and balloons!
Sneaky pre-lunch trip to the pub - ahhh, bliss!
Gorgeous Sunday lunch.
To give ourselves a break from the unpacking of the boxes that were delivered to our house, we took a few days to visit my parents in South Devon. The weather was stunning so we were able to enjoy the glorious coast and countryside, as well as having lots of great meals cooked for us of course.
We managed to see pretty much everyone else in Rob's family over the Jubilee weekend when we went to visit them in a holiday cottage in Corfe Castle, Dorset. All very sociable, and a great place to celebrate.
But now we're at home, waiting for the next excitement to come... Baby Norm is due in just over 3 weeks and we're slowly getting things organised. In the meantime I've set myself a little maternity-leave project to fill in some of the gaps in this blog. Looking back through my photos I realise that there are lots of things I didn't blog about - our trip to Australia for example, and the National Day 2012 parade which was such an impressive Brunei event. So hopefully several more blog-posts to come over the next few weeks.