It has been a long time since i wrote a proper blog article. I’m not going to try to write about everything that happened since my last entry in Peru. I will just make some key points now, and promise to try to do better in future.
I had planned for a long time to spend a couple of months in England, not least because my passport was full of stamps and visas and I needed a new one. And I certainly needed to return when the passport, cards and money were stolen in Peru
So I Amigo and I left Lima on 18 July (or thereabout) and came to Heathrow via the wonderfully well-equipped airport at Toronto. My first impressions were how modern and convenient Heathrow seemed compared with when I left two and a half years ago, and shock at being asked for over 90 UKP for two coach tickets from the airport to Sheffield. I had read that England had experienced a heat wave, but it had gone by the time we arrived. Dreary rain greeted us the coach slowed through the Midlands, and gave up the ghost in Nottingham where we hijacked and diverted a coach bound for Newcastle.
had rented a house in Walkley (which I used to represent on Sheffield City Council) from a former councillor colleague. I had been promised that I could crash in my flat in London, but I didn’t want to be a burden on my excellent tenant Matt) so we kept our couchsurfing there to what I hoped were reasonable levels. It did, however, mean that we spent a lot of time commuting across the North/South divide.
I was struck how little Walkley and most of Sheffield had changed since I had last visited and lived there (1981-2001). The characterful Victorian terraces and vistas were still there to charm, and the Heart of the City modern development was still there to impress. Nostalgia was complete when I met up with former Liberal Democrat council colleagues who were around when I served from 1994 to 2000.
A week later I was in London to apply for a new passport, and back again to get a visa to fulfil my promise to spend my birthday in India. Rather more had changed than in Sheffield, but the footprint was much the same, as were the historic buildings. And I explored parts of West London which I had never visited when we found couchsurfing hosts in Barnes and Northwood, and stayed with my wonderfully hospitable cousin Kate in Dagenham. Among her other acts of generosity, I am typing this on the wireless keyboard she gave me. Again, it was good to meet former Liberal Democrat, Green and Conservative councillors from my time on Lewisham Council (2004-2010).
I have mostly enjoyed my two months in England, visiting old friends and places. Highlights included taking Amigo to the opera at Glyndebourne and a garden party and lecture at New College, Oxford. The only downside was that towards the end of this period my father was taken seriously ill and I was worried that this might be his last visit to hospital. But he has confounded us yet again, and is up and about walking the hospital wards and looking forward to his daily gin and tonic at home.
I am feeling a little sad to be leaving England, but new adventures await soon in India and New Zealand. Flying to Mumbai on 20 September.