Hello everyone and welcome to my brand new and improved travel blog. Thank you for gracing my humble little ramblings with your electronic (and – be honest – slightly voyeuristic) presence.

First things first. Why, I hear you ask, is the profile picture of only me when this is quite obviously a blog about the travels of both myself and my lovely husband, Ryan. And the answer is simple…. We tried it with Ryan’s silhouette and frankly, his is a nose that should not be seen in profile if it can possibly be helped.

As the title implies, Hoff and I are coming to America and very much looking forward to letting our soul(s) glow there.

But before we get into that (and as we haven’t actually left yet) I thought it might be nice to do one last report from our home of the last 12 months, Wigan.

Hoff and I were chatting the other day and officially decreed that our decision to move to Wigan for 2011 was up there with some of the all-time best decisions we’ve ever made. It really has been an amazing year. Hoff has enjoyed his footy, I’ve enjoyed a lot of travel, we’ve made some amazing new friends and basically feel a little more worldly and well-rounded for the experience. Actually I feel more well-rounded in more ways than one – damn you hearty British fare…

There are definitely going to be some things I will miss about living here. For starters, when I move home I will not be living within walking distance of a thousand pubs (better for my liver, probably). And whilst the snow was a pain, it really was pretty. Finally, I still think the accent is really charming (when I can understand it) and I’m secretly disappointed that I haven’t picked up any of it whilst I’ve been here. I honestly don’t think I sound any different, me.

There are a number of things I have achieved since living here that I am quite proud of:

  1. I saw snow
  2. I have learned to drive a manual car (RIP dark blue 1998 VW Polo)
  3. I now participate in rounds of shots on a night out (as opposed to pouring them in a pot plant when no one’s looking)
  4. I ate a bite of Black Pudding

On that last one, whilst most Wiganers insist that “you have to try it, it’s not that bad”, I’ve found that a little prodding usually reveals that most of them haven’t tried it themselves either… Honestly. Any food item that has the word ‘congealed’ in its description is really not for me.

On the subject of food, I really have never eaten a pie which is a sin that more than one Wiganer has informed me is unforgivable. For those of you that live outside of Wigan, Wigan natives are known as ‘pie eaters’ and there is a distinct ‘pie motif’ about the town. Some people even have bumper stickers that say ‘no pies are left in this vehicle overnight’. The funny thing is, after consulting Wikipedia, I’ve learnt that Wiganers were originally termed ‘pie eaters’ because during a strike in 1926, Wigan miners were starved back to work before any of their counterparts in surrounding towns, therefore eating humble pie. It seems that the modern-day Wiganer has appropriated the term to reference the actual pastry, rather than metaphorical variety. I kind of love that.

So whilst I have missed family and friends (as well as dumplings and sushi*) very much whilst we have been living here, it really is bittersweet to be saying goodbye.

*Actual dumplings and sushi. Just in case anyone thought I’d left Siamese cats or similar back home named Dumplings and Sushi…. Not a bad idea though. Note to self…

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