I recently embarked on a 10-day trip to England with a group of students. We were on the road quite a fair bit and on those long-distance bus rides, I would write. The next few entries are from those journeys.
We are in the coach, rolling our way towards Leeds. When we arrived, it was a gloomy, rainy and grey Manchester that greeted us. Today, it was a gloriously sunny Manchester that we bade farewell to – a Manchester that had brilliant cerulean sky, voluminous cotton candy clouds and a sun that was puffing up its chest with pride.
It’s a long ride, an hour or so. And yet I refuse to close my eyes and sleep. I feel as if I have to stay awake, to absorb the lush greenery that is rolling past my window. I want to commit it to memory and remember it forever. I love this landscape, this sight of the bare fir trees standing tall and undulating slopes.
My last trip to Europe was well over 10 years ago. And in this time, I have forgotten just how much I love being here, especially here in England. I love how elegantly aged the buildings are, how they are so charming in the haphazard way that they are standing. I love how they have embraced their heritage in their buildings and not buried it in their quest to keep up with the times. I love the cold crisp air, though there are moments when I feel as if my nose is about to drop off. I love the brownstone houses, the white window lattices, the smoke chuffing out of the chimneys. I love the spacious parks.
Mostly, though, I love the space. There is no sense of claustrophobia here. I can breathe. I can move calmly with a sense of purpose. There are no tall buildings crowding my steps, my life, my thoughts from all corners.
I don’t know when we will have the chance to come here again. One day, soon enough, I hope. I can’t wait to explore the cobbled streets with my boys.