The time has come for saying goodbyes here in Stockholm and I feel so sad to part from my international group of friends that have been so much part of my life here in Sweden. As it often is with expat postings at this time year and after three years, everyone seems to be moving - we shall be scattered to the four winds around the world. It is a lovely thing though to have a group of 'gals' who have lived in this city and shared this experience together. The internet means that noone will feel all that far way, even if they are. Good luck to all of you with your moves and new lives, whether they are at home or in yet another destination - It has been a great pleasure to know you all.
So we are moving... home. The county and country where I was born and grew up. As I start to pack up the house in Stockholm, I see the wealth of treasure we have collected over these many days of travelling....painted wooden boxes, brightly coloured canvasses, handcrafted ornaments. None of them of great monetary value, but all of them priceless. One of these is this little lady....
I I found her in the middle of a handicraft stall in a rather odd indoor market, on a grey winters day in Moscow. 'Verdenhach' is a soviet style park in the north of the city, a large area dedicated to the might of the old USSR. Centered around an extremely large and elaborate gilded fountain are a collection of pavillions representing the various countries and their cultures. In the time we were in Moscow, these had long since been abandoned and now housed a selection of market stalls and crafts people eager to sell their wares in the warmth and this is where I found her.
Bright and cheerful, exquisitely painted and so very evocative of old russian style, it was love at first sight. She cost me a few roubles and I brought her home, triumphant at the thought of having such an unusual and charming piece. She sat in my kitchen in Moscow, then in Paris and in Stockholm is the first thing I see most mornings when I come downstairs. She reminds me of all the times and all the travels we have had abroad. I shall pack her in my shoulder bag on the plane back to England and when I get to our new home in Yorkshire, she will be the first thing I shall lay down.
I am so excited to be moving home and although the town where we shall live is not where I was born, it has the familiar feel of home to me. I am glad to be doing this. We have been moving and travelling since 2002 and it has been the most amazing experience. We have seen and done so many things I never could have imagined, met so many wonderful and interesting people from all over the world, learned to speak languages and explored cultures that are so very different from our own. It made us closer and stronger as a family unit and the shared adventures together will stay with us always. One of my favourite authors Karen Blixen (Out of Africa) said that 'God made the world round so that we not see to far ahead'. Perhaps these are wise words and I am not sure I would have wanted always to see too far ahead in this journey. It has been everything at times - trying and thrilling, scary and yet rewarding, frustrating and fascinating. In making our journey, we have drawn our own circle around this earth. I feel that the next circle we will draw will be a smaller one, within the boundaries of this outer ring. A tighter, more certain circle, supported always by the inspiration and wealth of experience found within the lines of the outer. But at this moment, as I take a backwards glance and find myself joining the two ends of this circle, from Yorkshire to London to Moscow to Paris to Stockholm and back to Yorkshire, I feel blessed to be able to say.... it is truly, a perfect circle.