It starts with the announcement on the tanoy.
The polite greeting at the passport desk. Then the careful apology at the carpark ticket machine.
Bushy trees and overgrown hedgerows flash past on the drive south.
Passing through villages and hamlets, the smell of cut grass as we wind down the windows, stirring memories of summers past.
The thumping of a Chinook as it flies low overhead, the reverberations interrupting the countryside quiet.
Then gentle, persistent calls from tiny birds flitting between seed trays. The sleepy coo-coo of a pigeon on top of a neighbouring roof.
|Photo credit: English Countryside by Shutterstock|
In the calm of the garden, a water fountain burbles. The whir of an electric mower. Bumble bees buzz lazily around the lavender.
The kettle boils. The tea is made. The TV turned on. The news delivered in a solemn tone.
White, pillowy clouds gather on the horizon but the sun remains. It is high in the sky and will stay that way. The dark refuses to come for the solstice is here.
Football beckons and the tennis is on its way.
Summer festivals approach, with long weekends in pub gardens, at the coast, camping in fields and pastures, watching and winning at the races, contemplating short trips further afield.
Sat in this garden oasis, memories come flooding in, threatening to overwhelm, as one cherished event from the past is replaced by the next.
Memories that have been locked away for the last three years, pushed aside by more dominant new world adventures.
I can sense the arrival of summer. The return to an earlier life. The familiarity of a former home.
Back to the tanoy announcement, as we descend over a patchwork quilt of fields and farms.
She welcomes us here. To this place. This country.
She smiles, jokes, reveals the day as hot, sunny, blue skies, not one cloud.
She announces that we’ve arrived. Welcome to England.