Five weeks is a long time to be away from home but, truth be told, this holiday has been in the planning for years. It was the first time, I’d travelled to the UK with Andrew. The first time I’d shown him the country where I was born. The place, against all odds, I still sometimes think of as home. That’s the funny thing about being a migrant. You are raised by people who speak of another land in wistful tones, whose childhoods, courtships and treasured memories all took place thousand miles away from where they have chosen to reside.
That does something to your soul.
As I sit on this Qantas A380, I feel compelled to make an inventory of the journey we have been on.
Showing Andrew Wales
Knowing he found it beautiful
Having him notice the change in language as we drove deeper into Wales
Speaking Welsh for an entire week
Finding my thoughts no longer needed translating
Walking with Aussie friends in North Wales
Seeing family and friends in Wales, Essex and Dorset
Dinner with Andrew’s colleagues in Provence
Lack of WIFI – I’d put the inability to get WIFI in Australian country towns down to the wide, brown spread of our land. I was wrong. It seems small green islands have dead spots too
Having to eat the wonderful, calorie laden and lovingly prepared meals laid out by family and friends – gee, thanks folks, I’m feeling too tubby for my clothes
Being too tired to exercise formally
Not being able to have protein days – Doctor Dukan and me are looking forward to resuming our acquaintance this week
Having to juggle food availability against intolerances and then putting up with the symptoms
The flight – let’s face it, Australia is a a long way from Europe
Paris (indeed France) was/is astonishingly beautiful, sophisticated, and culturally exciting. I was prepared to fall in love with the the place, yet, it never evoked a sense belonging. This proved to me that my love of the UK and more specifically, the landscape of Wales, goes beyond it’s beauty. As I passed through Shrewsbury and the railway towns of the English marches, I had a sense of coming home.
Strangely, Melbourne feels like home too. As we sat in cafe after cafe, I found myself yearning for informality, wide, light-filled spaces, doing coffee for the sake of coffee, and the easy uncomplicated sense of not being the guest, or stranger in the room.
The Welsh have a saying: cenedl heb iaith yw cenedl heb galon – a nation without language is a nation without heart. This is true. France showed me that. France would not be France if it’s people spoke English. Neither would it be England. It would be a land in between. Wales has lost the possibility of ever being a fully Welsh speaking nation. It’s best hope is to emulate lands like Switzerland and Belgium by coming a truly bilingual country. This however relies on the support and goodwill of the English speakers living there. To my dismay, I have found many to be rude or openly hostile towards the Welsh language. Wales deserves better than that.
Quote of the holiday
Andrew (reflecting on the vagaries of immigration): some people were never meant to be transplanted – and you are one of them
Me: What do you mean?
Andrew: Liz, how any times have you been to Wales in the last ten years?
What I’m looking forward too in Australia
Seeing my dog
Oops! Seeing my family
Cwtsch-ing my dog
Riding my bike
Chatting with my Welsh class
Catching up with friends and workmates
Planning my next trip to Wales