We dropped 30 degrees the day we arrived in England. Singapore released us at a sultry 29 Celsius. Heathrow was making some effort at spring with 4°C and when we arrived in Warwick at around 10pm, it was one of the colder days of my life at minus one. Meanwhile, my family were sweating it out in an Australian 38 degrees. So, welcome to England, Anne.
But the temperature was not at the forefront of my mind.
I was realising that the forms hulking in the dark were those I would come to know as my own landscape. I recognised the cut of white road from the introduction to the Vicar of Dibley. (Oh yes, I know my England.) I remembered the delight I felt when I first drove through it some years ago. It said to me, “You are in here.” I had crossed from what exists somewhere to what exists here, to being a part of this existence. It is a weird sort of second-hand assertion of one’s physical location: If I am where I know to be England, then I am in England. It’s useful as an antidote to the disbelief of the good fortune of travel.
The next morning I awakened in England. Small birds chit-chatted. Their songs were flakes and tiny silver spirals twisting in the early light. This was my new morning soundscape; no longer the full golden-throated carolling of magpies.
I stood in sunshine and minute snowflakes. They were smaller than pinheads and most melted on contact with my windcheater. Just one was big enough to be discernible as a tiny star shape. Oh, the pleasure of that one flake. Rumour has it that snowflakes are six prongs of radial almost-symmetry with infinite variety but I had never seen one. At the risk of sounding like a scientist crossed with a wizard, there is magic in verification.
I bought some thermals. For a while, I was too cold to undress to put them on but, my goodness, what a difference a layer of wool makes. I could really have done with my ugg boots and the thick woollen jumpers my mother has knitted me over the years but I cunningly put them on a boat that will be here in three months. I expected spring and got the coldest March in 50 years.
On my way out house-hunting one morning I passed a tree and made a note to return to it for photos. The following dawn, precious time ebbed away as I hacked at the windscreen with a footling piece of plastic which The BB had advised me was an ice-scraper. Scrape scrape scrape. Check the sun. Scrape scrape scrape. Check the time. Crikey! How do people live in such countries? Finally, I had a transparent windscreen. It was still pre-dawn when I arrived at my tree. I photographed until after sun-up with sheep and crows obliging. I had captured a little piece of the land, my new land.
In the process, my hands bypassed cold and went straight to a weird sort of hard, stinging numbness. “Welcome to our world,” I hear you northern-hemsipherians say.
Thank you. I’m here and I‘m glad.
PS I’d be grateful to hear which of the photos appeals most to you and how I might improve either the initial photo or post-processing. I am relatively new to this. Click on the small photos in the gallery to enlarge. Thank you.