Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Back Home

So much seems to have happened since I last posted. We have called many places 'home' since we left Walcheren Loop - the Nottawasaga Hotel in Alliston, the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto...

New York City...

Cunard's Queen Mary 2...

but now home is a little more permanent - beautiful England. The experience of moving from country to country is a strange one. If I am feeling negative about it I find myself homesick for Canada, just as I sometimes felt homesickness for England while I was on the other side of the Atlantic. It can feel as though it's hard to settle properly in either place when you are yearning for the one that is 3000 miles away. However, in a more positive mood I just feel fortunate that I love both countries and had the opportunity to experience living abroad for 2 years.
Since landing in Southampton a month ago, we have toured the country from south to north, visiting family and familiarising ourselves once again with some of our favourite parts of the world. It's funny to see certain things with new eyes - not realising that we had actually missed them until we saw them again. These little pink and purple fuchsia for example. South Devon is full of them, and they sometimes make up large parts of the hedgerows.
And sheep! We rarely saw sheep in Ontario, but they are such an integral part of the English landscape. These sheep are fortunate enough to be grazing the gorgeous South Devon coast, but we were delighted to find that there is a large field of sheep next to the road where we now live in Buckinghamshire.
Heading north to Cumbria, we were reassured to find that in a fast-changing world, the Lake District remains the same (even down to the weather... but no, I'm being positive now!). People in Canada could never quite understand what I meant when I said that I missed the hills, but I don't think that landscape quite like this exists anywhere else. The Rockies are awe-inspiring, but there aren't many peaks there that can be conquered on a day-walk, or without some fairly specialist climbing equipment. The Niagara Escarpment in Ontario, what was our local area of hills, is beautiful, but England is unparallelled in its network of public footpaths, making the countryside so accessible to walkers.
The bracken-covered hillsides looked wonderful in the sun, and it's even easy to find beauty in the clouds, swirling over the high peaks and bringing dramatic changes of weather from one minute to the next. Just make sure you pack a waterproof jacket, and try not to worry about getting wet feet...

La'al Ratty, the miniature steam railway, once used to transport iron ore mined in the hills down to the coast, now used to transport tourists and tired, damp walkers. Always a highlight of our trips to Eskdale.
Back home in Bucks we are beginning to find our feet in a new area, greatly helped by having family living nearby. When the sun finally made a concerted effort and managed to stay out for a whole weekend we took the opportunity to explore the area on foot and by bike.

So, back in the land of thatched cottages and historic churches,

of blackberries in the hedgerows,

and where picnics are made up of delicious treats from my Uncle Michael's butchers shop in nearby Thame,

I think we're going to be very happy.