England is pretty much the way we left it nearly eight years ago and I am not surprised. Nothing moves fast when there is so much history holding it down, but that’s one of the things I love about it. The daffodils had almost finished blooming and day by day leaves were bursting forth on trees. It was hard to leave knowing I was coming back to winter and that first step outside the airport on Saturday was a real shocker!
I’d gone “up north” to research the journey of soldiers from the WW1 battlefields through to the NZ hospitals in England. There was a lot to discover and being right there, made it so much easier. Everywhere I went there were people with stories to tell. I was cajoled up hills to see not only the Bulford Kiwi but also the ground dug over by NZ Engineers as they practiced their trench digging and letting off explosives. These activities had nothing to do with wounded soldiers but everything to do with understanding the men I was researching. I also heard wonderful stories about a small village and a large hospital. At the Anzac service in St Nicholas’ churchyard I was pushed back into the present in an attempt to reach the fainting soldier cadet before he hit the ground. It’s a nurse thing – knowing when they’re going to go, but it’s pretty hard to push the New Zealand High Commissioner aside to prove yourself right!
Now, I get to do the fun part – putting all the words together and making them work. It’s a bit like opening a box of chocolates and throwing away the card inside that tells you what each one is. Writing about anything is pure gluttony and I can’t wait to get started.
As for Christchurch – it may be cold but it’s all bright and sparkly and new. And I like it very much.