So now the time finally arrives. Three and a half months living in Britain starts to make it seem like home again. Comfortably ensconced in a quiet suburban four-bedroom house with spacious garden, it is now time to go where we were always going in the first place.
Naturally upping stakes and moving on brings with it not so much trepidation but the realisation that a new comfort zone has been built and needs to be broken down and left behind. But that is precisely the reason we have embarked on this whole venture and so it needs to be embraced. The logistics of moving arrive with frightening rapidity. Boxes of nostalgic stuff from this house combined with purchases inevitably accumulated since we have been here, must be packed and sealed, customs forms filled in, the shipping company consulted on how it must all be done. Addresses for UK driver’s licences must be changed as must those for the banks. We have quickly built up the infrastructure of residents and now it must all be dismantled.
But in all this there is excitement! The teeming hordes and chaos of India awaits and with it all the wonder and splendour of its natural treasures, civilisation and history. What really outshines this of course is that we will see Max soon. Our greatest treasure.
But of course there is an element of sadness and regret. I do love this country and our ties will weaken even further when we leave this time. To walk into it is to walk into an old home. Instantly familiar and easy to integrate back into life here. It does have the bonus this time that there is not the work a day trudge of crowded tubes and the general hurried flight through the crowds. That has its own attractions but it is also eventually draining.
It seems so long since we have been here, and the fantastic thing is to have caught up with so many friends and seen how their lives have progressed, their children have grown and, sometimes unfortunately, how tragedy has taken its toll. We have been blessed by the weather as the sun has shone and even now as the autumn gets colder and the days shorten we are still able to see the sun every day. But I haven’t forgotten what a British winter is like.
To have sat down with old friends with whom we have shared so much in the past, and while faces are a bit more weathered and waistlines expanded, it is a sublime pleasure to meet people who are still as they have always been. Time takes its toll in many ways but melts to nothing when in a moment of meeting, nothing has changed and there is the realisation of what brought you together with such great people in the first place. This is a joy and life affirming. In essence this is what this trip is about.
Since returning from Iceland there has been more catching up with friends, demonstrating against Brexit, watching football and seeing more of London’s wonders. The trip to north Wales was wonderful with glorious days and autumnal colour.
Being part of the nearly 700,000 who marched through London to protest the idiocy of Brexit was wonderful. There was no particular “type” of demonstrator but when you looked through the crowd there was everyone – young and old as well as clearly those from the conservative middle class to the “lefties”. There was little shouting or chanting and not a hint of trouble. It was dignified but its power was in the sheer numbers who marched and who had made the effort to come from all parts of the country. I don’t know where Brexit is headed or what it will bring but clearly more people have had the time to think “why are we doing this?” It is hard to see who it will help but the trouble as much stems from the fact that the European project has marched forward, usually under the auspices of faceless bureaucrats, while politicians have failed to communicate the benefits of peace and integration that the EU, imperfect as it is, has brought. Politicians through lack of principle and leadership have failed to neutralise the fear and ignorance that has fuelled this ridiculous situation. We can only hope that some sensible arrangement can be reached that doesn’t blow all the benefits of years of membership to nothing. At the moment the victory appears to be going to the angry and disempowered who are easily exploited by the self-interested and opportunistic nasties who see the possibilities for power and wealth to be gained from this mess. Sadly, the clock is ticking on a sensible solution and the cliff edge no deal Brexit is a stronger possibility. It will be costly, and it is difficult to see who will benefit from the damage. I grieve for the UK on this one. Maybe there will no longer be a UK if it pans out badly.
So, as I sit in the pre-packed mess that precedes the next chapter there is a strong feeling of nostalgic sadness at leaving old Blighty. This is probably in the knowledge that it is unlikely that we will return for such a long period again. But the decision to embark on this venture has proven the value of our journey so far. Not another year of sitting at a desk analysing data but reconnecting with old friends, wondering thought the glorious streets of old Italian and Maltese towns, the hustle and bustle of airports that is annoying but pulsates with the adventure to come, seeing the wonder of huge icebergs, beautiful snow-capped peaks and weird volcanic hills of Iceland. For me this is the essence of my existence and despite the problems and hassles that have happened on this trip, I’m loving every minute of it. India – bring it on.