Two countries

With New Zealand’s borders open again I have been able to make another trip to my home country of England, after a gap of over three years. Being in London when the Queen died, and during the subsequent period of national mourning, was a truly remarkable experience.

Sadly there wasn’t enough time to see all of my relatives and friends living in various parts of the kingdom, but I did visit a lot of places, too many to list here. I stayed several days in Oxford, where I did my medical training and spent much of my career, meeting some old colleagues and exploring the riverside and surrounding water meadows.

Grandpont, Oxford

One day I took the train to Malvern, with its memories of Elgar’s music and my time at the College of Healing. The town features in my novel “The Windflower Vibration”. I walked up the hills and had tea at St Anne’s Well.

On the Malvern Hills

Another highlight was staying with an old school friend who lives in a converted farmhouse in Wharfedale, Yorkshire. We walked the dogs by the river, and ate fruit from the orchard where 250 apple varieties are grown.

Washburn river
Apple orchard

For the first few years after I moved to New Zealand in 2000 it seemed easy enough to make frequent return trips to the UK. But international flying has become much more complicated and expensive since the pandemic, and attracts increasing criticism for its impact on the environment. Also, having reached a later stage of life, I wonder how much longer I will be fit to travel. So although I hope this latest visit to England won’t be my last, I am aware that it might be.

Knowing this I do sometimes feel torn between my two countries. But my present life in Auckland is a very happy one, and over the years I have enjoyed the best of both worlds.