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Thursday 17 February 2011

I took a trip in a flying ship

Yes, I am in England again

Several days ago I took a very bumpy ride over the Channel after my work in Northern Germany came to an end.

Flying out of one of Germany’s smaller airports my flying ship was a small, propeller-driven plane. I must admit that for the first time ever I was very pleased to feel the wheels touch down on England’s pleasant land. I had chosen a very stormy day for my journey.

What a surprise I had when I got my first glimpse of my homeland through the clouds and saw that England’s green and pleasant land really was green! Spring had sprung while I was up there in the beautiful, white, sunlit, fluffy clouds.

I had flown in to spring time, having left behind me paths covered in sheets of ice, snow-covered hills, trees covered in frost and rime, and temperatures of minus 13C. I arrived to find rays of warm sunshine and the first signs of an English spring.

The English landscape

When I am up in a plane over England and it breaks through the clouds I know immediately where I am. I could recognize an English landscape beneath me even if I had been blind-folded and spun around and flown round the world twice. I always know when those fields below me belong to my home.

They are so different to aerial landscapes of any other country that I have ever flown over. I think it is the shape of the fields and the miles of hedgerows that give the game away. But it could also be the red-brick country houses and farms, or the double -ronted mansions in their landscaped estates. It could also be that cattle, sheep and pigs are grazing in the fields, or it could be that special colour green.

On the other hand it could be that something is ringing in my soul to tell me that I am home, that the eagle has landed.

I travelled to my family home from the airport by road and noticed how green some of the still bare branches were looking, and how daffodils where just waiting for a few hours of warmth from the sun to break through that papery wrapping.

On the land

Having left Germany in deepest winter it was very strange to go out into the walled garden of our family home the moment that I arrived, to say hello to my Mum, and to discover spring. With a carpet of early crocuses across the lawns and up the pathways, with clumps of snow drops and aconites dotted amongst them, catkins hanging from the hazelnut trees and furry, silver pussy-willows on the willow trees, spring certainly had shown itself here in Norfolk while I had still been wearing snow-boots only hours beforehand.

I have been working in the garden on and off since I arrived and have been discovering other signs of spring. A frog joined me as I weeded the flower beds where the green shoots of bulbs are beginning to show through the rich brown earth. I disturbed a sleeping bumble bee from its hibernation in the ground, and watched it buzz into life. The forget-me-not plants have red and black sleepy ladybirds in between their furry leaves, and the darker, pointed, glossy bluebell leaves have already shot up six inches over the short time that I have been here.

When the sun shines it warms my back as I bend over to pull out weeds, but there have also been days when the bitterly cold easterly winds have cut me in half and chased me back indoors.
But spring is here without a doubt, even the birds are beginning to sing. Yesterday I spotted a gold crest, Britain’s smallest bird, hopping around the fishpond, eating grubs. There has not been one of those in our garden for about ten years.

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