Every time we come back to England, I realise how much it is, quite simply, ‘home’. Our house is rented out, we have few personal effects here, but still I routinely and unconsciously speak of it as ‘home’, and Laroque as ‘back in France’. So you don’t have to be a genius to work out where my heart really is. My daughters, grown-up, mature, independent, make no secret of the fact that they’d prefer us to be around more. It’s difficult not to agree.
England itself works its way under my skin every time I return. We’re staying in a friend’s house on the Valley Gardens in Harrogate. Daily walks in the park, easy access to the Stray, and the busy neighbourhood shops of Cold Bath Road have put a much more positive spin on the town than when we lived in our house in the suburbs. Yesterday we spent walking near Grassington, along the River Wharfe, where baby ducklings and a heron held our delighted attention. But the landscape of windswept green hills, drystone walls, sheep with their lambs, and late in the afternoon, the bluebell woods, captivated us as only ‘God’s Own County’ can.
I’m happy in Laroque, very happy: and I don’t want to leave. Not yet.