Many years ago in Sydney, I remember receiving a Christmas present from a family member in the UK that had quite an impact on me.
The present in question was a book called English Landscapes – a largely pictorial journey through the hugely varied countryside that this nation has to offer.
The images contained in the book were so dramatic and evocative, that at times I could scarcely bring myself to look at it – somehow, a mere browse through its pages was a way to trigger a strange desire for my homeland.
The Welsh have a word called Hiraeth that apparently doesn’t have a direct translation, but refers to a wistful yearning for the Wales of years past.
And while I’m neither Welsh, nor mired in the past, I did find that browsing through the pages of this book resonated deeply with me and gave me a similar set of emotions.
The other thing that struck me about this book was how a relatively small island can have such a wide variety of different landscapes.
I was brought up on the edge of the Chilterns, all rolling fields and woodlands. I now live on the South Downs with its dramatic chalk hills and open farmland.
My parents were brought up in other parts of England – my Dad in the gentle pastures of Kent and my Mum in the spectacular scenery of the Lake District.
All very distinctive. All very different.
Last week, I went on a road trip down to Cornwall, a place I hadn’t visited since my youth and yet another unique part of the country.
This time I found myself negotiating narrow country lanes, flanked by high banks and with limited opportunities for cars to pass each other.
I drove along roads that wound their way over steep hills adorned with clumps of evergreen trees creating a landscape that was almost Tolkien-esque in its appearance.
I passed alongside craggy coastlines, broken up with picturesque stone harbours full of fishing boats in a style that looked almost Scandinavian.
And I stayed with friends in an old stone farmhouse, looking out over undulating fields full of sheep and cows, bordered by stone walls and high hedges.
This was Cornwall and I liked what I was seeing.
One of the attractions of returning to live in the UK is its proximity to all the diversity and culture that Europe has to offer.
And whilst I certainly plan to take full advantage of this, the last week has been further proof that there is a whole lot of England that is lying there in all its majesty, just waiting to be explored.
I can’t wait.