Recesses are always a mixture of constituency engagements, overseas travel, reading, writing and relaxation and this one has been no exception.
The Parliamentary expedition to Spitzbergen was a huge success- highly complex logistics and up to minus 40 degrees (including windchill) but thankfully no incidents. The Polar Bears were just beginning to lumber out of their winter lairs, which are mainly on the East (colder and so better hunting) side of the island, and our work was on the West, so we were not troubled by them (despite having a precautionary armed guide everywhere we went.) We MPs from the Environmental Audit Committee had brilliant staff with us- from British Antarctic survey, National Environmental Research Council and the British Embassy in Oslo, who both made the trip happen seamlessly and also ensured that we were exposed to the very best of British science. Brilliant work is being done in Polar Research Station Ny Alesund- much of which will help us do all we can to counter the effects of climate change, and maybe even help stop it in its tracks.
Then it was back to earth for surgeries in Calne and Royal Wootton Bassett, a lovely Easter weekend with friends and family at home; a visit to an old lady in Chippenham; a campaign meeting to oppose a badly sited solar farm. Renewable energy must be encouraged, but it must be sensitively sited. Wiltshire is now making the largest single contribution to solar in the UK. I wonder if we should start to give more attention to food security post-Ukraine?
Meetings with the new and excellent Chief Constable and Police and Crime Commissioner in Devizes, a visit from my Parliamentary staff from London; opening the refurbished Pit Stop near Chippenham, a visit to a bereaved family in Calne, dinners in Shipton Moyne and Compton Bassett and the usual mass of admin and correspondence seemed to keep me pretty busy through my second week off. I also spent several days door knocking at various locations, including in Swindon and the new part of my constituency in Gloucestershire in the run-up to the local government elections. Canvassing fulfils not only a party-political purpose; but it is also essential in giving me a feel for what people locally are truly thinking and feeling, enabling me better to represent them in Parliament.
The House is back on Monday for what looks like an action-packed Summer Term (although broken up by an awful lot of bank holidays, and the Coronation.) This term always seems shorter than Christmas to Easter which drags on for the best part of four months through some pretty dreary weather. So we have so much to look forward to from now.
And some R and R over the two weeks of the Easter Recess is an essential fore-runner to hitting the new term with energy and gusto.