Did I like Kerala, one of the older students at the school enquired towards the end of my stay in India. Surely, there was no other place in the world as green and beautiful as Kerala?? ‘It is after all God’s Own Country,’ she added.
It is impossible to argue with the greenness of Kerala, but although the state indeed has some spectacular scenic areas, would God allow its countrymen to spoil such splendour by piling up rubbish along the roadsides?? So let’s not forget the true origin of the famous adage: it was thought up by the creative director of an Indian ad agency to promote tourism for Kerala… so rather subjective to say the least. He clearly never set eyes on William Blake’s green and pleasant land!
But how can I blame the children of the school for thinking that only Kerala boasts green countryside as it never occurred to me to show them photographs of England!! So, in the past few weeks I have been documenting my travels in the country so that at least I can put the record straight and allow my future students a glimpse of what the world looks like beyond the boundaries of their geography books.
During my 10 week stay I covered the length of England, touching the sea in Bournemouth, lingering in the rejuvenated city of Birmingham and being caught in a January snowstorm courtesy of Storm Henry near the Scottish border. Okay, as I was here in the winter months, the countryside was only a muted green speckled with the yellows and browns of sun-starved grass, with bare branches stretching out against darkened skies, and early splashes of colour overshadowed by the ghostly skeletons of last summer’s flora. Then there were the towns, a marriage of history and innovation, and unintended additions of local artists… And every so often the sun would peep out to dazzle land- and sea-scapes with an intensity to rival Kerala’s.
Seaside in the South: Bournemouth:
Walking in the New Forest with the family, South-East England. And watching the wild ponies:
Lickey Hill Walk in the Midlands on Boxing Day:
Suburban Birmingham, in all its glory… maybe not all the pictures are suitable for use at school!!:
Birmingham: a city in transition as modern architecture fuses with history:
And after a four hour train journey from London’s King’s Cross I enjoyed the spectacular views of Berwick upon Tweed, immortalised by Lowry, its ancient and fortified walls bearing witness to the incursions of the Scots. The Scottish border a mere 5 km away… What about the Saturday morning blizzards? A mere trifle to contend with for weathered walkers such as Liz and me…