Coming back to the UK was a relief, though I felt I missed my mum. She had been here for seven months and her presence had become part of my life, her routines were my routines, we shared concerns, outings, cooking, and we regularly met the friends of the Italian community. I felt sad for a while but then life goes on, and after all this is what she wanted, go back to her home and her friends in Italy.
At home, I decided to keep the Christmas lights and decorations for another two weeks as the weather was rather gloomy and I was still feeling in a festive mood. Keeping Christmas going was also a way to virtually delay what is inevitably going to happen in spring, that is my daughter’s departure for Japan to attend a two year master course in Tokyo. It is heartbreaking for me to have her so far away but this is what she wants. We will skype, whatsapp and email each other as much as possible to keep updated. I will go to Japan for sure to visit her sooner or later and she will probably come back for Christmas. She really loves Japanese culture and has been attending Japanese classes for four years, which shows her interest and enthusiasm. But I know I will miss her dearly.
As soon as I was back, I plunged in Margaret Atwood’s books to carry on with my PhD research. I am mainly concentrating on her early works at the moment (The Edible Woman, Surfacing, Survival and The Circle Game), an engrossing reading that indicates how she developed her reasoning about possible alternatives to the stereotyped roles of women in society and about the politics of society itself. The function of power structures and ideology is fundamental in her work; a function she defines showing its inherent contradictions, inconsistencies and construction, and trying to indicate possible different options. But there are no final solutions or definite answers, and this is maybe something we need to acknowledge.
In January, I was also in Cardiff for a meeting at the IB centre, as I am an IB principal examiner and they needed to explain to me some assessment procedures. I wasn’t well as I had caught a bad cold in Italy, which got worse and worse because of the cold weather and the stress of travelling. But the whole experience was very useful and interesting. I could meet the principal examiners of Portuguese, Spanish and French (who is a Québécois retired teacher). We exchanged opinions and ideas, and I acquired good insights of Canada by the Canadian colleague. I would like to visit Canada before the end of my PhD as I think it is essential for me to see the areas and cities that Margaret Atwood describes in her novels. It is a world of fiction, of course, and Canada today is not what it was in the 70s and in the 80s, but still I think it would be worthwhile for me to experience Canada, not just read about it.
We also visited our son in Oxford and found an exceptional Italian restaurant (La Cucina, http://www.lacucinaoxford.co.uk/ )where we will probably celebrate his graduation in 2019. It is not a big place, more like a trattoria, but the food is superb, and it has a pay and display parking place in the back (parking is a nightmare in Oxford). We had gnocchi al gorgonzola (gnocchi with a blue Italian cheese), pappardelle all’anatra (pappardelle with duck tomato sauce), a special calzone looking like a pizza on the edge, cannoli siciliani, an extra special ricotta cheesecake and cake with pears and caramel. Everything was so good that we proclaimed it the best Italian restaurant ever in the UK.