I am at Stansted Airport, a strange place to be at 4.30 am but my flight leaves at 6 am. Yesterday I had one of those days that make me wonder why we ever left England. I went for a long walk first thing in the morning, watched the mist rise over the sunny, frosty fields, ducks swim along the canal, geese fly overhead and dogs frolic in the freezing water.
Then I headed off to Cambridge where I had a meeting with an anti-ageing guru in a pub for my next book. In the background Wales were playing Ireland in the Six Nations. The professor drank John Smith bitter and everything was as English as you can get. After that I had a walk around the town and not for the first time in my life regretted not having been an undergraduate there. I stayed with some lovely friends who cooked me a lamb dinner and looked after me superbly. Then to bed and a slightly restless night in anticipation of the early start.
I spoke to my husband and told him I was worried we had made a bad decision moving to France. Maybe it was time to reconsider. “Don’t be deceived,” he said. “England is a mad and dangerous place, peopled by drunks and lunatics, except for the greatest living Englishman, J. Wilkinson Esq.”
He has a point. Jonny is without doubt the greatest living Englishman. But another even more pertinent point is that opposite my friend Carla’s house where I had the idyllic country walk is a house for sale. It is, in total, about the size of my bedroom at home and is on the market for £250,000. The same amount we paid for our vast farmhouse with land and swimming pool just over six years ago. Much as I love the Oxfordshire countryside, the thought of living in a shoe-box with all my children, the cat and the dog makes me happy to be going home to France.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007