I spent Christmas at my parents' home in Liverpool. It was good to see my parents, sister, brother and cousin again and I had a pleasant and relaxing time.
My cousin is visiting Europe and working in Ireland before returning to Australia sometime next year. He works in the mining sector and it was fascinating to hear about the effect that high commodity prices are having on areas such as Western Australia - abandoned mines that I visited when I was there ten years ago are now economic again.
I am always amazed at how much Liverpool changes from one visit to the next. Antony Gormley's "Another Place" sculptures litter the beachfront by my parents' house (indeed, you can see a few from their bedroom window) and the effect of 100 identical life-size statues strewn across a large beach is very impressive.
The centre of Liverpool is also in full-scale redevelopment mode... the tell-tale outline of cranes was visible in the drive from John Lennon Airport to home. I discovered by accident that VLM have an offer on at present: my ticket will allow me to use the airport's lounge free of charge on my return trip - I'm not expecting anything like Virgin's Heathrow Clubhouse but it will make a nice change from the litter-strewn departure area that I encoutered last time I used LPL.
I met up with an old school friend and his girlfriend last night. They are working abroad at present and both trying to find roles in London so they can move back to the UK. I asked what it would take to persuade them to move back to Liverpool and work here instead. We concluded that we couldn't think of any scenarios where we would do that.
This isn't the fault of Liverpool - or any other city in the country (indeed, both he and I have spent time living and working on the South Coast). Rather, it's a realisation that the sheer size of London's economy means that it would be madness to live or work anywhere else. There is more competition for skilled labour there, the salaries are higher and there is more to do.
Those who know me may find it strange, therefore, that I still work for the company I worked for when I lived in Southampton. That's not really contradictory - the mere fact that I live in London is enough to keep my options open. And, contrary to what I may sometimes suggest, I actually quite like my work.