I travel, I like travel, I have become a pretty good traveller. So much so, I. My own mind, that I have developed a dislike of tourism - I prefer the real, the raw, the natural - not just of nature but of people, lives and the built and developed environment.  I find the ancient history of Greece or Rome as vital and gripping as the modern emergence of Tel Aviv, Dubai and more.

Yet here I am in a seaside town - perhaps the illustration of what I might not like and I find myself charmed and enchanted by it.

The simplicity of a beach that is variously hot sand, wet pebbles, raining and misty through to burning and scorching.  A sweeping bay of guesthouses and bed and breakfasts that are punctuated by pubs, ice cream stores and chip shops.  A pier that feels past its prime and hosts a pub, a pizza house and of course a snooker hall.  A soaring cliff edge with a vinicular railway, a war memorial topped by winged victory set on the edge of a rugged medieval castle.

And a town that shows off all of these things with a proud casual nature of going about its business daily, busily and yet relaxed and in touch with what it is and what it might be.

Yes, I'm in Aberystwyth, the place beside the river Ystwyth, and it is beautiful, charming and  a place of surprises.  It has an economy that is localised, bespoke and yet supported by the chain stores we so apparently need, and yet it has the youthful embrace of a town proudly carrying a University.  That university carries a economic gift that has enhanced this town, injected enthusiasm, and  a location that develops loyalty, love and affection off this farthest flung west Wales.

If you haven't been before then I recommend it.  End of the railway line perhaps, or more properly maybe, the start of the line, more like.  From here I intend to explore this lovely, verdant, rugged and charming country about which, until now I have been blissfully and lackingly ignorant.  Why hello Wales.

This morning an era truly ended.  I walked out of my flat in Douglas Court, Quex Road, London, NW6 and I pulled the door shut.  For the last time.  It was one of the most truly fightening things I have done.  It has been our rock, our castle, our retreat - safe space and great fun.  But times change and we move on.

 
But out of that flat and apartment we have married, we have hosted a party or two, forged friendships, cried and laughed.  In that time I have lost elections, won elections, travelled far far abroad - often further than either of us every imagined.

Being back in the town in which I went to secondary school I have made contact with a few friends from back in those days.  One such catch up was in a car in Spalding Town Centre.  As we sat down I commented how little it has all changed.  My friend looked about to disagree so I fell back in an adage I learnt at University: "Everything is different but nothing has changed".  On that we were able to agree.

He then said, and it's a fairly common first opening for folks who still live in the town, versus those of us who have left: "you won't recognise the town, its full of foreigner".  I smiled gently, having prepared, and said "you mean rather than Irish and Dutch they are now Polish and Latvian?"  To his considerable credit he laughed.

As I went for my morning run - it was my best distance yet.  Now I'm no natural runner, until now I haven't enjoyed it, but the long quiet flat roads here makes running a fun and thoughtful activity.  It clears my mind, enables me to think on things and develop new ideas or clear lists of things to action.

Having been gripped by an inability to finish things properly for some time - going running and the sheer exertion of the run is doing wonders to my desire to create lists, but also to write.  This is blog perhaps the most obvious output of that positive change.

It's been a sharp and aching learning curve (my back and calves bear testament to that), but it's fun and real and fruitful!  The pile of herbs, chutney and sauces and the bottles of fruit juice pay testament and will be enjoyed for some weeks to come.

But in addition I have been surprised by my broadening of understanding about urban/rural archaeology.  As I mentioned previously I was surprised at a pathway that has quite literally been over-run by grass and ivy, but yesterday I quite literally excavated a brick corner feature.

So in the course of just over a week I feel like I have worked in most parts of my parents fairly large and quite complex garden.

Indeed I have been surprised and slightly taken aback at the scale of variation of the jobs I have had to do.  There is a large tarmaced drive that has become covered in moss. This has required me to hoe off the moss that has got quite deep, then to sweep that up, take care not to rip up the tarmac and gravel stones at each edge of the driveway and then, on my hands and knees, I have, with a wire brush, manually brushed the whole thing and methodically worked up the drive to clean it completely.

So I'm interested in history: Roman Britain and the Empire at large, Saxon England fascinates me, the English Civil War is a particular passion and I am motivated by local history.

So what does this have to do with me being back in Pode Hole and taming my Mum and Dad's garden and learning what I have never learnt - about which flower and plant is which.  More than anything else I am actually taming the garden - my Mum has tended the nurtured the garden for years.  All I am doing is tackling the last few months of growth that has been this summer.

I'm beginning to get life into a bit of semblance, order, almost a personal ritual. First up is collecting the fallen apples and pears - today 6 apples, 4 pears - then the morning photographs.  Today is misty, very misty, a deep grey white cloak absorbing all with a light drip-rain drizzle.  And as I collect and wander round the garden to explore the weather change, I take care to dance and skip and tread round the slugs and snails who have not yet slumbered home after the evening feast of herbs, apples and shrubs.

 Just sitting in the open space that is the actual garden of my parents here in Pode Hole it's amazing just how quickly you make friends.  Not with people, you understand (though my parents are very grateful for the effort I'm putting in) but with the insects, birds and assorted other visitors.

Mum used to have a robin red breast - Wonky - that visited her garden.  Wonky went awol at some point not that long ago, but now there are two red robins back playing in the pear tree.  Also, we seem to have a dunnock - a small sparrow type thing.  It's tiny, but each morning when I'm out sorting the herbs there he is playing in the hedge and tree.

Well everyday should be a school day I'm told - so I'm learning a lot fast here in my Mum's garden - a blister on my right hand thumb and on my left hand thumb and finger joint bear testament to that.  But today was a particularly beautiful revaluation as I found that the Garden Studio Wall is showing off Passiflora Caerulea or Blue Passion flower.
It's not often that I am stopped in my tracks - I have travelled widely and seen much - but this flower is beautiful indeed.  I actually and genuinely could not believe that growing here in fenland Pode Hole was something so stunningly beautiful, complex and yet simple.  I quite literally whipped out my phone and crouched down to capture them and see closer.

So I'm at my parents house here in South Lincolnshire. I joke about it and laugh to my friends but sitting here as the evening drops I am reflecting on where I actually am.

Their house is a bungalow - it's not unusual - space for building property around here is not really a problem. The house is set back from the road and you drive off the road and you have a sense of levels. For south Lincolnshire is floodland - the full range of The Wash where the ocean of the Atlantic comb round East Anglia and supple up into the Rivers Witham and Welland amongst others.