Everything that's happened since

If you'd told me 15 years ago how much fun you could have wandering around Kew Gardens...



I don't know quite what I'd have said.



But my great friend Ali and I, we took the Tube over to Kew. It's a gem of a district and the gardens are, well, so un-British.



It's not some Edwardian enterprise kept alive for tourists. Its best days are not behind it. It's home to great glades of beauty beneath a flight path.



There's art, ancient and modern, but the place feels as young as its flowers.



I don't know the names of many of these wonderful multi-petal'd things, but my my liking for a colourful garden has been a long time growing. One of my favourite songs is Nick Cave's Nature Boy:

I was walking around the flower show like a leper
Coming down with some kind of nervous hysteria
When I saw you standing there, green eyes, black hair
Up against the pink and purple wisteria



Kew is an overland stop on the Tube and a delightful outpost with a small square that has a gem of a bookshop and a selection of gentle cafes and florists outside the station. The place has the atmosphere of a small college town by a railway.



Annual membership at the gardens costs less than the monthy fee at many a London gym. If I lived around the corner and my knees were up to it, I might even take up jogging.



I don't live around the corner. But you may have gathered that I now live in London.



Moving to a city just as spring cracks through is a lovely way to turn up in a new place.



You don't expect life to be a bed of roses, but you might get a bowl of sparkly blue things.



For all Britain's reputation as a class-bound country, when you wake up in London there's a great sense of a few other million people also falling out of bed, reaching for the toothbrush and going on the same journey into the day. And the common experience of Oyster-carding your way through the tunnels or marching over one of the bridges that cross the Thames is a great leveller.



It's also a place where magical things happen. One evening after work I called in on the Tate Modern and saw the millions of handpainted sunflower seeds that fill the Turbine Hall in Ai Weiwei's giant sculpture. He had just been arrested by the Chinese authorities. An already haunting beauty work now had a new poignancy. People sat down on the great long slope leading into the hall and a little later Daniel Barenboim sat in front of a piano and started to play. It was the 60th anniversary of his first public performance. I got a hint of what the atmosphere at the feeding of the 5,000 might have been like.



Not even the world's greatest mechanic would have a wrench as great as the one I experienced leaving Cardiff - especially as I knew I'd be missing out on the performances of an amazing double-act who had just arrived in town.



But one of the greatest joys of London life has been collisions with friends who defined past chapters and have brought their glory back into the present...



With the addition of some startling new cast members.



And the terrific thing about London is that it's not off the beaten track. There's an open blue door for Welsh adventurers.



I've traditionally seen myself as an autumnal kind of guy. But this spring I've really enjoyed sitting in the sun at the mad-dogs-and-Englishmen hour talking about the Alternative Vote.



There's a lovely square just around the corner where guys wearing berets and French rugby jerseys play boules. There's also a perfect pub and right outside is a grand place to shoot the breeze.



And these days, thank goodness, there is a lot of breeze to be shot.



But this weekend I'm back somewhere less sweltering.



Dad and I took the 15min ferry to Donegal to Greencastle.



Since the recession hit, there's a sense things are grounded. We couldn't find a cup of coffee, but there are dozens of unsold apartments looking out across waters which once separated two counties but now divide two countries.



The partition of Ireland is only nine decades old. On days like today, when you catch the ferry by the Martello tower to the dock and the gorse-autographed hills on the other side, it's doesn't seem like a journey between two states.



It more like moving from one side to the other of a very rural version of a divided Berlin. The division is real - you pay in euros at the chip shop - but the ruins of castles stand on either side and the folklore of each terrain is filled with tales of earls.



The story of this ancient island with its beauties and troubles is far from finished and I'm not sure this a permanent divorce; Ireland, north and south, is one narrative that's just growing in complexity, branching out, and, I'd like to think, reaching skywards.

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