For Christmas 2011 we decided to head back home to celebrate with family and friends. We arrived back a few days before Christmas, bleary-eyed from the night flight but excited to be back in the motherland. My first thought as we headed through the glass doors and into my dad’s waiting car was grey. So much grey! Pavement, sky, motorway. As we drove away from Gatwick we passed fields of mud, devoid of colour, like a sepia photograph. Has home always been this shade of dull, I wondered, thinking back to the ripe greens and colour bursts along the roads in Bermuda.
But after a snooze I awoke to a more beautiful scene. Outside my childhood bedroom window was something we never see in Bermuda: Dark, healthy trees with jagged, naked branches. That afternoon they were bathed in a wintry, pale yellow light – light we just don’t get in Bermuda. It looked beautiful and, for the first time, I felt that Christmas really was around the corner.
Later that week we visited the West End. Walking through Covent Garden was a festive treat – smells of roasted chestnuts, Christmas music floating in the air, and lots of shiny baubles lining the market hall. After we’d bought goodies from the stalls, we ice-skated (well I got towed around the ice by my little brother-in-law) at Somerset House, on an outdoor rink bathed in blue light, surrounded by history.
We spent most of our visit making visits, swapping stories and gorging ourselves on rich food and good wine. It was tiring and hectic but wonderful. I missed the sunlight though. Each day we’d wake to a thick grey sky, the sunshine suffocated by cotton-wool clouds. For one stretch, we didn’t see any sunshine for four days – three days too many for a reptile like me! I would wake after a long sleep to a dark day, and feel groggy and lethargic because of it.
On our last day we packed away our new presents and calculated the 35% duty we’d have to pay to bring them into Bermuda. It was a lot of money unquestionably, but for us, it was a small price to pay for our now-cherished daily dose of sunshine.