Eleven weeks is a long time to be away and I have a lot to do in the garden.
I had to fly between New Zealand and the UK, but when I was in Europe I was able to take public transport and travel surface. I took the train from London to Dorset and on to Hampshire, where I boarded a ferry that takes a day to sail to Spain.
In Santander I got a couple of buses to take me to Hondarribia, where I was working for a couple of weeks on my books (see earlier posts on A Basque Diary). Then I took the little ferry across the River Bidasoa to Hendaye in France. The 9.12 am train from Hendaye got me to Paris in time to catch the Eurostar to take me through the Channel Tunnel and be back in London at 5.39 pm that same day.
It is a slower, more contemplative way of travel and I’m lucky to have the time to do it. I can’t work on the bus (except for daydreaming), but I can on the train and ferry, especially since they now usually have wifi.
It’s a lot nicer than flying.
I arrived back in Lyttelton last week, after 11 weeks of travel in Europe and I'm so glad to be home. Nearly 3 months away was too much. That said, I went to places that are like second homes to me. I grew up in Dorset and going back there always feels like heading home, even if I can't spend as long there as I used to. Revisiting Hondarribia in the Basque Country in Spain was a kind of homecoming, as we left it a year ago. It is the only place other than New Zealand that Duncan and I considered living really long-term.
My travels made me wonder what makes a place home? For those of us who grew up in Britain and remember the pop star Paul Young, the answer might be wherever you lay your hat, but for me that's not the case. I've lost plenty of hats over the years and I'm sure some of them have ended up in landfill…
I feel at home when I can do most of these things:
• walk out of my front door and into the countryside,
• get to the sea easily,
• grow some of my own food,
• enjoy my day to day routines, including my work,
• go out and have a drink, or a nice meal once in a while,
• bump into people I know and meet up with friends,
• be with loved ones.
This is an extract of my Illustrated Epistle, which goes out in the middle of the month. It is a behind-the-scenes look at the life of a cartoonist (specifically, mine). I'd love it if you signed up at the bottom of this page, or here:
British street furniture can be very attractive, particularly in Dorset.
Las dos semanas que pasé visitando Hondarribia y a mis amigos pasaron en un santiamén. Por ahora, regreso a Nueva Zelanda, pero sé que volveré a Pais Vasco.
(The two weeks I spent visiting Hondarribia and my friends went by in a flash. For now, I’m heading back to New Zealand, but I know I’ll be back to the Basque Country)
Lamento no haber estado en Hondarribia este julio, ya que el festivo de la mujer con la caja en la cabeza es mi favorito.
(I’m sorry I wasn’t in Hondarribia this July, as the festival of the woman with the box on her head is my favourite.)