Dear England, I'm home.

Hi honey, I'm home! Home to beach walks, big scones, spring flowers, fish and chips and old friends.  Weirdly we have also come home to sunshine and warm weather. Can it last? Some things in England reassuringly stay the same - we are approaching a Bank Holiday and rain is forecast. I'm writing this on the train down to London. We are in the quiet carriage. This is a car of the train where you are supposed to be quiet. Not a complicated concept really but it has escaped two men on opposite ends who are shouting into their mobile phones. Hang on, a bloke has just got up and pointed out the big sign hanging above the head of one of the phone users and he has left the carriage.

Quilliam Brothers and their ginger beer scones
It's a strange thing but travelling in the quiet carriage is much more stressful than a normal carriage as you have a higher expectation that we Brits will behave ourselves.  Our annual trip home in the springtime has some traditional activities that we cannot do without. Scone research is one of them and I'm delighted to discover the Quilliam Brothers Tea House in Barras Bridge, Newcastle where they sell ginger beer scones. It might not be traditional but it is to die for. Lots of teas to choose from too, I went for Russian Caravan.

Another old favourite is walking over the town moor where farmers are allowed to keep their cattle during the summertime. One hot day saw dozens of students hanging out on the moor near Castle Leazes halls of residence. Each circle of them had a plume of smoke rising from the middle and these pow-wows had a weird smell. My favourite vignette was two female students lying down with their laptops and a cow grazing right next to them. The students too interested in social media and the cow too interested in grass for them to notice each other.

Beach walks are one of those things I miss most about living in Canada so we have notched up quite a few favourites already. Warkworth, Alnmouth, Bamburgh and Low Newton. The latter had the added benefit of the Ship Inn and a little village green where you can reward yourself after a walk with a glass of local pale ale. Crab sandwiches are another essential when strolling at the seaside. For Jimi Hendrix it was fish and chips. This fact is now the feature of a historic plaque on the window of Marshalls in Tynemouth. Personally I only eat fish and chips which have been endorsed by a rock legend.

After so many months of snow in Montreal the colour of the grass and spring flowers is a delight. We stand like fools marvelling at how green the grass is. The trees are in full blossom and the magnolia trees a particular favourite. In the countryside at Shaftoe Crags near Bolam Lake the gorse bushes, with their smell of Hawaiian Tropic sun cream, are in full flow.

Hanging basket with pansies

It feels good to be home and as we head to a rainy weekend in London and Brighton we can only hope no-one else causes a bit of a fuss by shouting into their mobile phone here in quiet coach.

Canadian circus in town: its name is Peter and Anne


  1. Lucky you, to be in England, now that April's there. I relived my April trips (mummy-in-law shared Her Majesty's birthday) through your wonderment at the green grass, blooming magnolias, beach walks (though ours were usually in the southwest) and scone searches. Colour me very green indeed.


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