Why do we all still slip a hand out of the window to check the temperature outside? Or look at the sky to see how many clouds there are in order to predict the chances of rainfall? Britain is sinking. It doesn’t matter if the sky is clear. It doesn’t matter if the sun is shining bright and it is atypically hot for a winter morning. If you leave the house now, you will be rained on. You will drown in a spontaneous British waterfall without so much as a hood, contemplating how riding the Thames to work might have been more pleasant. Just as well, because soon that might be the only option.
Reading’s local shopping centre, our infamous Oracle, could easily fall to its soggy little knees as the Kennet is now a mere two steps away from flooding McDonald’s. It is merciless. Anyone who has managed to avoid the effects of the BIG UK FLOODING CRISIS (i.e. live on a hill and never leave the house), is still likely to have a tree trunk take a nap on their roof.
The irony is, people who have been complaining about snow for the last few years, are now secretly wishing they were sliding around in a bit of ice than watching their sitting room turn into a version of The Atchafalaya Swamp. It is February and we’ve not had one snowy scoop. What is the point in these -1000 degree temperatures if we can’t at least get one sledge-run, one snowman or one blasted snowball fight out of it?
Instead, we are drowning in a giant puddle.
It’s not just the mundaneness of the weather (you’ll be glad to know I’m going beyond the the ramblings of a stereotypical Brit now into something far more self-indulgent). This time last year, I was frantically typing my way through a degree, spending hours distractedly daydreaming about travelling and staring at a fairly unmarked scratch map. Now it feels like Britain is shouting, “get a move on!” as it continues in its attempt to flush out half the population. It’s a sign. After moving home, working full-time for what will be six months and getting a bit too comfortable with my one-year-only free rent offer, it’s about time I got washed onto another shore.
On 21st May I fly out to New Delhi. Post-jet lag, I’ll then travel north to do a Yoga teacher-training course in Dharamsala, home to the exiled Dalai Lama and at the foothills of the Himalayan mountains.
It’s something I want to keep going. There aren’t many things I’m that certain about, (masters, career, marriage, kids), but I’ve been saluting the sun for over three years now and through all my fickleness, that’s dedication. It isn’t particularly spur-of-the-moment either. People who know me well enough have said “I can imagine you doing that”, which is all the support you need when making what feels like a life choice (but really isn’t). I can’t help fearing I will be taunted by Eat, Pray, Love quotes until I die.
The plan so far is vague, but involves scurrying around Delhi, taking the course in Dharamsala, trekking the rocky slopes of Northern India, gaping at Kashmir’s highly acclaimed scenery, riding a sleeper-train to Kathmandu and eventually flying to Auckland (stopping off at Kuala Lumpur or Singapore en route). Vague, because plans will undoubtedly change a fair bit when I’m actually on the road. Or prior to take off. I didn’t expect to take a spiritual pit stop in India before New Zealand and now I am spending 200 hours practicing Ashtanga Vinyasa flow at the bottom of a mountain. I don’t know when I’m coming home. It could be two months. Or two years.
But thank you, sinking country of Britain, for making every step a muddy puddle. Thank you for boring me to death with reports on flooded car parks, damp living rooms and closed bridges, all the while making out like a volcano just erupted. Thank you for causing me to seek the lifeboat of a different climate. Because I needed that extra push.
Even if I get caught in a monsoon.