Around this time last year, I embarked on a trip of a life time: I did an Erasmus year in England. Sheffield to be more exact. It could hardly have gone better.
But I didn’t know it would be so pleasant at the start. I was nervous to boot. And understandably so. It was my first time away from home for over a week, and I had chosen to spend it in a foreign country, in a town I knew next to nothing about, where I only knew one person – and she was going there for the first time too. A bit of a mad thing to do.
So when I got there, after a good night’s sleep after a day of panic attacks, sleep deprivation, starvation, of waiting for hours for trains that didn’t show up (eyeing you, Manchester Piccadilly station), I did the only thing one could do to relax. I picked up my camera, set up Google Maps on my phone and went looking for the Botanical Gardens.
Say what you will, looking at flowers and trees is more important than food. (Sometimes.) Besides, there was a rare, wild creature I was expecting to see…
Just look at its menacing adorableness!
Sadly, I didn’t see that many that day. I did get to see quite a few of these nastily cute thieves in later expeditions, when I forgot to bring my camera or extra batteries. I even became a bit of a squirrel whisperer. A few times, I managed to lure them onto my hand or knee. Though fleeting, they were definite magical moments.
Oh, alright, I’ll admit it. I was the loon in the middle of the gardens talking to the squirrels in a gibberish mix of Portuguese and English while children stared at me in awe and adults either watched with a smile or sped up their walk in terror. But, really guys, squirrels!
Anyway, back to the point. I didn’t see many squirrels that day, but I did learn why the British are so famous for their gardens.
Just look at all those colours! At the variety of flowers and at how healthy they are! Scarcely do I need to say it. I fell in love. Later, I would take the long way to the shop, just so I could walk through the gardens, even when there were no flowers in sight.
And this is just a sample of what I saw then. There was much, much more beauty.
So I can honestly say that that day, I walked in fairyland.
“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
Victor Hugo, Les Miserábles