I am back in England now. It is all very strange to leave our house in Czecho, to come home from home.
It was almost as though the weather knew I was returning to England, for after two months of sun and no rain the weather broke. It was heralded by the cows calling in the fields. Usually at night in our village you are struck by the silence, perhaps you will hear the occasional dog barking or an errant blackbird heralding the dawn prematurely, but normally all things are quite silent. But that night the cows were lowing with an unnerving cry, almost as if in pain. I lay in my bed wondering what was wrong and then the rain began. I could hear it thundering on to the rusty corregated iron sheets in the yard. In the morning it continued, the sack of dehydrated whitewash in the yard was breached by the torrents and bled white over the ground.
By the afternoon the rain had stopped and the birds had started singing again. I locked the gate and walked up the lane and past the rocks to the nearby town and bus stop. From there I travelled into Cesky Krumlov, where I spent the night at my friend's house. In the morning a taxi took me to the station at Ceske Budejovice. As I sat on the train to Prague, I suffered mixed emotions. Drifts of wild lupins were breaking in to bloom along the track, deers started from pastures that edged the forests. This place had become very much a home for me, had in some strange way always felt like home and I was leaving it. But I was leaving it to go home.
In England instead of lupins there would be seas of bluebells, bluebells which were deeply embedded in my understanding of the seasons. When I was a little girl we lived in a house near a millpond in the Cotswolds. Beyond the pond, where I fed the swans my toast crusts, was the wood, here my mother would take me walking among the bluebells. I was three when I left the millflat, but the wood, the pond and the bluebells are deep in my memories together with my mother saying "Look, Zoe, can you see that flower" or "What do you think that root looks like?" "It looks like a witch, mummy. She's got a big nose." Ponds, witches and the dark wood, no wonder the Czech Republic feels like home.