It was a crazy blur of seeing family, friends, and as much of my home as I could, but the one word that I can describe it with is "magical". No other word I can think of fits my memories of my surprise trip home as well as magical.
I did so much, there just isn't room to write everything down, but my Mum met me at Heathrow on Thursday 19th, after my twelve-hour flight, which of course I hadn't slept during at all! When I came out into the arrivals lounge, I was ferociously scanning the crowd of people waiting for us to come out for my Mum. I didn't see her, but I heard a cry of "Miles!" and then she came running into view. It was such a lovely welcome back to Britain.
We drove the two hours or so to my hometown of Birmingham, and went straight to my old secondary school, where my brother was doing a small performance at a quiz night there. We participated in the quiz, and didn't do too badly - top 3 I think.. But I have to say, as I'd been awake for 26 hours, I didn't perform as well as I normally would have done! But I went to another pub quiz the following week, which we won money for, so I think it evened out overall.
I slept well, but woke up early, which I did for most of the first week. My body seemed to think 6am was an excellent time to get up! How wrong it was...
On the Friday evening, my Dad drove me down to Wiltshire, where we stayed the night at my Gran and Grandad's house. He was going anyway, to take my Grandad to the rugby in Cardiff the next day, so I was really pleased I could go with him. It was so amazing to see my grandparents. I'm very close to them, so there was no way I would have returned to Britain without going to see them. We had a cup of tea and some biscuits and then went to bed.
On the Saturday I went to see my Gran in her stageshow, which was a collection of West End musical pieces, most of which I knew. It was the first time I'd ever seen her on stage, even though she's always working on a performance. I don't know how she manages it!
We drove back to Birmingham on Saturday evening, and I was so happy I'd had the chance to catch up with them.
Then the Sunday evening has become one of my nicest memories, perhaps ever. We had an early Christmas dinner - turkey with all the trimmings. And we had crackers, candles and Christmas music, and it all felt so authentic. Because I'll be in Japan, away from my family for the first Christmas ever, this year, I was overjoyed to have that opportunity.
After the amazing dinner, we took mincepies and fancy chocolates into the living room, lit a fire in the hearth, and watched a classic Christmas film, The Great Escape.
On the Tuesday, two of my best friends, who I met at Leeds Uni last year, came to Birmingham and stayed the night at my house. It was so nice to see them again! We'd all been geared up to not see each other for over a year, and yet here we were!
I always like going out to the back of the pub and standing by the Broad (lake).
After the dinner, we took a group photo outside the pub, and then went our separate ways. It's a four-hour drive back to Birmingham, so we had plenty of time to get used to the idea that I was leaving the next day!
Coming back into Japan, I had my photo and fingerprints taken, for the third time, and there were no problems with my re-entry permit.
I decided to take the train back to Musashi Koganei, because it was cheaper than the Limousine Bus, and took about the same time - two hours. I took the JR Sobu Line from Narita Airport to Tokyo, speaking to a nice Japanese man who wanted to practise English with me, and then changed to the Chuo line, which took me directly to Musashi Koganei.
I dragged my suitcase down the hill and was finally back in the guesthouse, with a bed! But, it was only 1pm, and not time for sleeping! So I knocked on Rob and Katy's doors and we went for lunch at our favourite restaurant nearby, Tanmen Ramen (タンメンラーメン) and had our beloved Cutlet Curry (かつカレー, katsu karee).
We came back and I had a nap for a couple of hours. Or at least that was the plan, I remember turning off my alarm at 6pm, but the next thing I knew I was waking up at 10pm. Oops! I got up and showered, and then unpacked everything, and went back to bed at 1am. And then I had to get up at 7.30 to go to Disneyland with the people from Soul Run!
And now, looking back at the twelve days I spent at home, it feels just like a dream. A magical dream.