I have just returned to London after a visit to Manchester, a first for me. Taking the train up I was astonished at the beauty of the English countryside, even at this time of year. I think what struck me most, as a Canadian with roots in the much more sublime landscapes of the North American west, was the human scale of the land: rolling green fields, hedgerows, streams and canals, farms, cows, sheep, a man walking in a field with a dog. The clouds were low, sometimes very dark, but the sun was shining through and the leaves were yellow, some on the ground, a lot still on the trees. I thought I could get down and sit in one of those fields quite happily, for a long time.