The thin veneer of heat that passes for summer in Britain is retreating. Of course, this has been one of the greatest summers ever. Only the great summer of 1976 bears comparison and constant reference is made to this in the media and the street (by those old enough to remember). I can’t make this comparison personally as I first arrived on these shores in 1977. The temperature came dangerously close to 37oC at its peak but overall it can be called benign by Australian standards.
But as we get further into September the cool mornings and occasional brisk winds remind us that we are heading into Autumn. What a lovely time to have been here! The beautiful sunny days and green countryside are blissful. So much of our time here has been spent driving along roads with overhanging trees that filter the sunlight to make peaceful, secluded enclaves. There was a slight harshness to the sun in the summer when you walked over open ground. Now that has passed and the soporific pleasure of basking in fading full sun is divine. The trip to Scotland was lovely but the nights noticeably cooler. How British to spend so much time discussing the weather. But when it is lovely it is a time to rejoice here. The atmosphere of the place is so dependent on it. Places that seem lovely now will soon be cruelled by the grey blanket of winter that lasts as long as an Australian summer.
One downside of being here at this time has been the fact that travel to Europe is so expensive. From the middle of the month we hit the road to Europe for a few short bursts. A lot more time could have been spent here but with the focus on India, it’ll just have to be another time.
Living here, I have also fallen victim to an extent of Brexit fatigue. It now seems that stupidity will prevail and it will happen. Probably in the worst possible way. Now there will be a morbid fascination as to how it will unfold and if it will be as destructive as many think. Deal or no deal, it is clear that some things will continue as before for a while as there is simply aren’t the resources to make it happen from day one. HM Customs (or whatever they are called now) have said they don’t have the resources to stop every truck entering from the EU and will just wave them through until they can come up with some way of managing. There will be a lot of unintended consequences – mostly bad but there’ll have to be some good. The Tories are set to tear themselves apart over it. Probably a good idea the Conservatives (like the Liberals in Australia) split into factions of centrists and right wing nut jobs. In the UK it’s really all about Brexit whereas in Australia it’s the moderates versus the coal loving, gay hating, bible thumping dinosaurs. Either way the parade of clowns “ruling” both countries is risible. More fun to be had in the chaotic beauty of India. No order to be sought there, just go with the flow.
Scotland was lovely and great to see other people not seen in years. Again, we were blessed by the weather. Dundee seemed thoroughly pleasant despite its reputation for being poverty stricken and drug ridden. Other travel so far has taken us to the West Country, Norfolk, Derbyshire, Kent and the New Forest. Nearly all in bright sunshine through the green and pleasant land. More travel in the British Isles awaits. Ireland and Wales have yet to come.
Amongst the joy seeing our old friends we are reminded also how random and cruel life can be. One of our Scottish friend’s life had been hit with tragedy, two suicides and illness had decimated her close family. A couple known to Jackie for years (and to me for that matter) had been cut to one by an untimely death from cancer. Another friend had lost a nephew recently through a freakish accident. One other friend who had seen off an abusive relationship was faced with breast cancer. I admire the way she could brush it all aside and embrace life. I guess our close family was very near to tragedy but luck was on my side. But to reconnect with old friends is to give meaning to our presence here. It is life affirming and it feels that to have embarked on this adventure is a way to seize the day and live in the present. It also shows how our focus has shifted. Our ties to Britain have weakened. Time has taken quite a toll and the place has lost its magnetism. Its withdrawal from Europe has also lessened my pull towards it. It’s like seeing a once admired relative become grumpier and weaker, with more of the already fading mystique leaving a feeling that maybe there was less to admire than originally thought.