ASHLEY McMILLAN column: Jet lagged, suffering, but back in ‘sunny’ Blighty!

SO having ‘sent’ the good lady wife back on a flight to the UK last week, it was now my turn to jump on one of those infernal flying tins! I’m a natural. I simply love the whole flying experience - the airport, the customs, baggage claim, flight attendants, turbulence, the ever decreasing service offered on ever increasing flight pricing. You name it and you can see why I joyously wait with baited breath every year to spend hours and hours stuck in these tiny wee seats, with little or no food and now being charged for everything from pillows (!!!), newspapers, blankets, etc. God only knows why I don’t fly more often.

Means to and end I know, but am I the only one who really detests flying and airlines who are continually turning the screw on us all?

Now, after having a good moan about it all, the trip back to see family and friends is always rewarding - if a little hectic trying to fit in everything and everyone. Although I’m sure it doesn’t need to be, invariably catching up with friends often results in having a few (too many) drinks.....and maybe its this that takes it’s toll in a short trip, although I’m still blaming it on the jet lag which usually takes me a week or so to get over.

Life back in the UK, or in particular, Eastbourne is certainly different to back in the mountains. It’s funny how we get used to things though, such as every time I spot a dark looking animal around trees, bushes, etc I automatically assume its a bear!! Don’t get too many of them this side of Beachy Head these days I guess!

Living away from Eastbourne allows me a different perspective. I’m able to step away and see how things have changed, just a bit, by only visiting once a year or so. Unfortunately what it doesn’t allow is for myself or my wife to see as much of our family and friends as we would love to do. So it’s a trade off - have the outdoor lifestyle we’ve gotten accustomed to over the last 5 years living away in Canada, or slog it out wih everyone else in he UK’s tough economy but have more access to those who are close to us.

As much as I hate to say it, certainly over the last few years, each returning trip has shown a slightly deteriorating town. I know, I’m not proud to say it, so let me explain. No doubt victims of the tough times being endured by many in the current economic climate, shops, bars and restaurants have one by one shut down. Small business’s have come and gone and more ‘inexpensive’ shops have occasionally appeared in their places.

Struggling for the ‘correct’ way to put this, however, there does appear to be a growth in the population of young and unemployed parents pushing their kids around, sporting various inked skin collections and / or piercings and often with a nicotine stick being sucked on as they fill their lungs.

Do I notice this as its just not the ‘norm’ for Whistler where everyone is young or young at heart, but not wanting to get a ‘bad’ start to their young lives are perhaps a bit more ‘careful’- possibly? Does it appear this way to me because I’m simply not in this environment - again, probably.

What, if anything, does this say about Eastbourne and it’s young, not necessarily much. However, could this ‘observation’ be more indicative of some of the ‘issues’ of the governments policies for benefits, housing and so on?

Many will want to correct me I’m sure, but I have heard young girls, both when I was growing up and now, proclaiming how well they were going to be doing as they were already pregnant and were on the housing list, meaning they could get a place of their ‘own’ and receive other generous benefits. Not exactly high aspirations for the best start in life I’m sure you’ll agree.

What else I notice has changed is the darn weather. Is this possibly the worst July on record?

Typically I see that Whistler is of course now receiving beautiful, warm sunny days, everyone is lounging by the beaches and the docks and summer is looking good - apparently. Still, who’s noticing the weather with all the hype about the impending Olympics, Andy Murray showing his ‘metal’ and Bradley Wiggins leading the charge on the Tour De France. Yep, there’s a fair amount of British patriotism in the air right now. Maybe it’s just the shot in the arm we all need right now. If nothing else, it’s a cracking summer of sport!