Begin to imagine

I live in a very beautiful part of the world. Looking out from my garden, I can look across the Wicklow Mountains towards Lugnaquilla.

I've just walked the dogs down the road, across the crossroads, and over towards Carrig. One car passed us. The winds are strong today, although it's dry now after this morning's heavy rains. The trees and hedges either side of the road seem to dance in the wind, and a crow and two magpies lift above the trees, almost as if they're competing to see who can glide on the wind for longer. A few late swallows swoop low over the road, preparing for their winter migration. They'll be back next year, I know.

I grew up in inner city Birmingham. Sparkhill - rough and tough. Not sink estate rough. Just melting pot rough. Men vomiting outside pubs on Saturday night, gingerly stepping around the pools of sick as we made our way in our best clothes to the bus stop on Sunday mornings to go to mass at the Polish Church in town.

We played out all the time, in the summer until after ten at night. What did we do? Climbed onto the electricity generator, played in abandoned cars, played cricket, chalking the stumps on the brick gable wall of a house. I couldn't have imagined living somewhere like this.

My world was concrete, brick, ashpalt, plane trees enclosed by paving slabs, buses and cars and smells, rubbish blowing around outside the newsagent's shop. I used to escape to what passed as country. Tritiford Park - a stream with a few trees between the backs of rows of houses. The weir - a few concrete slabs across the stream where we'd swim in the murk The canals - so neglected that no-one else went there. The waste ground, up behind the old BSA ground, where wild flowers and grass had started to grow again.

There was no way to imagine this life to imagine this beautiful place where I live, less than an hour from the capital.

I wonder what lies ahead, things and places I can't even begin to imagine?