It’s funny about Australia and me. For the first thirty years of my life, I longed to get out of it, and now I can never wait to come back!
I have lived in England for forty-two years. I have a marvellous marriage, an English son, three English stepsons, fourteen English grandchildren, and a host of devoted English friends. I love England, the countryside and the changing seasons, from the film of green announcing spring to the glory of autumn and the magic of seeing the bones of the landscape through bare trees in winter. The sound of English birds thrills me. Were I banished, the recollection of the ‘chukka-chukka’ of pheasants (all right, I know they were originally Chinese!) going up to roost would reduce me to tears.
I live in a beautiful house and look out at a great masterpiece – Capability Brown’s landscape – which changes with every hour of the day. On summer evenings, the shadows cast long, dark fingers across Harewood’s south front and the black St Kilda sheep (no, not that St Kilda!) that live there.
I knew the moment I set foot into England that this was where I belonged. In A Passage to England, Nirad Chaudhuri writes that his preconceptions were based entirely on the English literature he had devoured all his life. Mine were coloured by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, Hardy and the English history I learnt at school.