It’s been 6 months to the day since I moved into our house in Winchester in the UK. Today, with the arrival of an unexpected sunny autumn day, I decided to do a little photographic experiment on the glorious South Downs in the exact same spot I stood half a year ago.
I’d travelled back to the UK in the spring to renovate our family home and research the UK film production market with a view to setting up a UK office for Seraph. After 16 years as a resident in the Middle Eastern hub we affectionately call the “sandpit” I had become a seasoned expat and was looking forward to seeing something green.
I grew up in Hampshire in the South of England and always longed for a home there that I could come back to one day. Rather fortuitously we signed contracts and completed on the property purchase we’d agreed the previous November just as I needed somewhere to stay. So there I was moving into the home I’d always wanted, a 5-minute drive away from the South Downs National Park, an area of (very green) outstanding natural beauty.
We found the spot by chance, a single clump of trees in a field on top of a hill visible from the A272, a magical road that runs across the top of the South Downs with spectacular views on both sides. The trees appeared to me as tall and ancient as nearby Winchester Cathedral and with as much character. We were delighted to see the field was accessible by foot from the road and were soon taking photos under the trees and admiring the far-reaching views.
So this morning I wake up 6 months later in the house that has become my home with this yearning to return to that same spot. It’s the 28th October and I wonder how the trees and the view will look now it’s autumn. There are no seasons in the “sandpit”, just hot sun and hotter sun! I grab my 5D, jump in the car and head up the hill.
I immediately notice that there is a more substantial fence around the field than previously. Inside the first fence there is a smaller electric fence, inside which there must be a thousand sheep milling around. I skirt the periphery of the first fence until I see a small gap, which I can just squeeze through. I am not so sure about the electric fence though. I try to take a photo of the trees from outside it but realise that this defeats the whole purpose of my visit so I decide to try and climb over the electric fence. I was pretty good at high jump at school but eventually decide an approach that involves stepping over the fence might be safer. Fortunately, I’m wearing high-heeled boots and my legs clear the electrical charge by about a centimetre. Relieved, I joyfully race across the field scattering the sheep away as they baa pathetically, like sheep do. I am almost at the trees when I notice a tractor in the field and wonder if I should turn back before the farmer tells me to “get off his land” but I am so close now. I arrive at the trees and take my photos as the farmer remains seemingly oblivious to my presence.
The spot is as perfect as I remember it but strangely it doesn’t seem much different to last time I was there. The trees have leaves, the view is green, there is undoubtedly some autumn colour but there are sheep in the field. To me it looks more like a spring scene. I mull on the time I have spent in the UK and wonder if, despite it being autumn, for me it’s spring, the season associated with new life.
Next week I will be returning to Dubai, having finished my UK business. The “sandpit” has not changed since I’ve been gone but being away from the “sandpit” for an extended period has changed me and I will now experience Dubai with a new perspective. Dubai will be new again.
As I drive away on the A272 a scattering of small orange leaves blow in front of the car and I notice a buzzard hovering above me.