I moved to Europe because the UK voted to leave it. I was 18 months old the first time I visited my dad’s homeland, and my memories of the trips that followed are more sense than sight. The warmth of my grandmother’s hug at Arrivals, awe at the improbable largeness of the old family house, and the bright sting of nettles while playing with my cousins (we visited in summer, so England’s rainy reputation seemed unfair). Variously, England has been my accented, mustached dad; a word I write on landing cards; a love for Enid Blyton, Narnia, and Harry Potter. Later, EU citizenship meant a year in Spain. But I knew little outside Bristol and the West Country, where most of my family lives. Ultimately, England meant family, and my understanding of the country itself was close to your average anglophile’s.
Brexit (and my confused reaction) exposed the gaps in my English understanding and set an expiration date on my right to live in Europe. Moving to the Netherlands dealt with the latter best, but it has let me visit more often, speak to more Brits, and see more of the country. Last month, I went to the North for the first time, to the serene (and damp) Lake District. // #tbt September 2017