This Nature Reserve ... I was introduced to it yesterday. Thank you, Andy.
And then there's the people, who have been incredibly kind and polite so far. Yesterday I wandered into a pub. They had 'Rugby' written on the board outside. I asked if they were screening world cup rugby matches, and yes, they would be screening the rugby world cup, and yes again, when I asked them about sound. Previous experience: 2 world cup matches viewed locally, without much sound, made me check about commentary.
But nicer still, the woman behind the counter asked me if I was a Kiwi ... her husband comes from Palmerston North. I shall return there soon.
Sainsburys has continued to surprise and delight me. It's a lovely destination for that daily walk I now feel compelled to take. Pukka Pies remain my pie of choice, on the odd occasion I buy. Lovely, after so many years away from good pies. I don't need a lot but some is good.
The air seems relatively clean here and is currently all about autumn and woodsmoke and damp vegetation ... but in good ways. Ways that take me back to New Zealand. Chinook helicopters often fly over, we're on one of their flight paths. I love the sound of their heavy beat overhead.
I'm drinking tap water, after years of viewing the Antwerp water with a deep suspicion that left me drinking bottled sparkling water. It's still quite odd to simply open the tap and fill a glass when I need a drink.
I am missing my Nespresso machine but it's okay ... I'm missing Genova too, and would much prefer the coffee found there in the city. Starbucks is okay for a single espresso, occasionally.
I am loving the buses. People wait for all passengers to leave the bus before climbing on, exchanging greetings, asking questions ... which are always answered, by the drivers. And when they're not in service, the illuminated message on the front of the bus begins with 'Sorry.'
Really! All this courtesy just blows my mind.
People in shops and official places have been so nice that I come away stunned and bemused. When I had my National Insurance appointment, the woman told me of spending 30 minutes with the Dalai Lama some years ago. We chatted of other things, while we filled out the forms. Opening a bank account ... same kind of friendly, helpful service.
The woman at the recruiting office couldn't have been more helpful. And the local rugby club have said I can go along on Saturday night and watch the All Blacks play there ... I'll head to the NZer's pub on Sunday, for the Australian game.
And I don't even know where to begin when talking of the friends I am staying with, and their friends, who have gathered me in in ways that stun and humble me.
So times are challenging and the future is slightly unclear at the moment however ... England is a truly lovely country and I'm feeling quite lucky to be here.
This is my song at the moment ... I think it so often. I Wasn't Expecting That.