Coming back from holiday is rarely joyous: mountains of mail blocking your front door, a reminder of all you left behind; dust and cobwebs; sagging house plants; the dead flowers you forgot to take out of the the vase in the rush to leave. In our case the house was also perishing cold as our heating is leading a life of its own at the moment and clearly decided to take a holiday too.
Yet, despite all this, for once I was neither downcast nor despondent. I put on the kettle to make a cup of tea and let my eyes fall on the garden, so changed since we left just over a week ago. The late afternoon light was golden, warming the burnished autumn colours still further.The skeletons of the trees were starting to reveal themselves a little more clearly as they slowly shed their yellow, brown and red coats onto the still green lawn below. The sky above was clear October blue. I stepped outside and smelt the subtle shift in season too: a new sharpness to the air laden with woody undertones and memories of Autumns past. How strange it is that at this seasonal winding down towards winter and hibernation, Autumn, which holds the new scholastic year, is a time of new beginnings for so many.
As we had flown back into Manchester, for once through cloudless skies, I chanced to look out of the window just as we were passing over Combs Moss - the magnificent horsehoe of high moorland which cradles the glacial valley in which our village lies. I had never seen it so staggeringly clearly before, standing proud and unmistakeable in the Peak District landscape: the iconic shape of Castlenaze and its Iron Age fort, the deep V-shaped cuts in the mountainside down which wild streams flow, the bumps and grooves of its majestic silhouette which I have come to know so well. It is this view that I look out on every day from my windows, a view which never ceases to inspire in all its seasonal moods.
I returned to the boiling kettle and made a cup of tea. We were home.