I went back to Northern Ireland for the first week of May. Vicky and Branwell were getting married on the 5th, so I figured I'd go home the weekend before (with the bank holiday), work a 3 day week, then come back on the Monday. Plenty of time to see my folks, some friends, and relax.
I did end up feeling a little stranded at points. My parents live in Newry, and I don't know anyone there any more. Public transport in NI is dire and I didn't have access to a car (even if I'd been insured for Mum's she's far too busy for me to be able to borrow it for any length of time). Kathy was in Banbridge (15 miles away) and there were people in Belfast (40 miles away) but it wasn't like I could just pop out and see them.
However, what I did realise is that there's a social system in place back "at home" that I could easily slip back into. I spent the Bank Holiday afternoon pottering round Belfast with Jake, Paddy and Peter, ending up in The Kitchen. It was, as it always is, good to see them. Later I went out with Kathy, Mal and Miranda for dinner. At Vicky and Branwell's wedding I saw a bunch of people I probably haven't hung out with in 5+ years, all of who were chatty and friendly; the wedding was a good day/night. I didn't have time to see ct, though it would have been good to.
I'm sure I could slot back into a similar setup in Oxford, but I found it surprising and comforting to realise I still have that in Northern Ireland.