I have been living in Christchurch, New Zealand for six months since yesterday. This feels like it should be an anniversary that is marked in some way so I thought I would write a blog about England, or rather my missing England.
For the first five months of being here I didn’t miss England, which is testament to just how wonderful the welcome to New Zealand has been. This place is beautiful, their way of life suits us perfectly and the people have been more welcoming than any other bunch of strangers I have ever met in my life – and I’ve been to a few new places in my time. But about a month ago I started experiencing the odd melancholy feeling for my homeland and in the most curious moments.
The first one was brought on by Postman Pat. My son requested it, well actually he pointed at the DVD shelves and said ‘pat pat pat’ which I translated as wanting to watch Postman Pat but I’ve since deduced that he uses this phrase for most things he wants, still can’t work out why. Anyways as the quaint song of our favourite Royal Mail employee tinkled through our play room I felt sad that Yorkshire was so far away, those little, stone wall lined roads, rambling hills and romantic waterfalls – places I’m not going to take my children in a VERY long time now.
Another time was when I was at a baby shower and I met the larger than life father of the mum-to-be who said on reflecting about his last trip to England ‘Why would anyone live there?’ (something my own dad says all the time) and I get it, compared to here everything is so squashed and grey and people are grumpy and tired. But there is a depth to England, it has character, it’s original, it’s well, frankly, cooler than any other country I know and I am not making a quip about the weather there.
A few days ago my sister-in-law sent me a couple of photos of her eldest daughter, one in her ballet class outfit. It’s probably a year since we last saw her and she was the age of Minnie then, now she is nearly four. Looking at the photo took my breath away, how much she has grown up in that time, she is a beautiful girl that doesn’t have that toddler awkwardness Minnie still has when you take a photo of her, Eleanor stared right into that lense and gave the most relaxed and warm smile you can hope for from a ballerina. It made me sad for Minnie and Jackson that they will miss seeing their cousins as often as we would like them to.
Of course it’s my family and friends who I miss the most, and just this morning I got an email from one of my “deepest level” (I’m not explaining that term you’ll just have to work it out) friends and she was telling me about things that are hard for her and I missed home because I wanted to be with her in it. There are celebrations there that I am missing but I am missing the fights and the struggles too because I know that’s when you have the most precious connections with people. At the moment I am meeting amazingly lovely and truly interesting people but we’re just still sharing the nice parts of ourselves and that makes me miss my friendships at home where we know the good and the bad, the lovely and the ugly, the happy and the sad.
I miss Sainsburys, I miss Jack Wills, I miss Candy King, I miss Strictly Come Dancing, I miss my mum.
New Zealand is the best place for me and my family to live right now and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But it’s actually very assuring that I miss my country, in the words of Charles Churchill, Be England what she will, with all her faults, I love her still.