For most of June I've been travelling. I went up to Birmingham for the ARMA Conference, and then spent a week in Ghent with my team on an Erasmus+ exchange with colleagues at the University there. Finally, I was at the EARMA Conference in Lulea in Sweden last week.
And those three weeks brought home to me what a wonderful continent Europe is. From the vibrant, multi-cultural metropolis of Birmingham, to the cosmopolitan, relaxed and historic centre of Ghent, to the natural wonder of Lulea and the glittering archipelago of Stockholm: it is a diverse, open and inclusive continent, rich in history, but forward looking.
Now you will have noticed that I included Birmingham as a natural part of Europe. Because to me it is: the UK is a part of Europe. Whilst the Channel is a geographic boundary, in all other ways the UK is strongly linked with the mainland. Economically, historically, culturally, environmentally, scientifically: on every level we are Europe.
Which is why the Referendum result on Friday morning felt like a body blow. The messages, like telegrams, came in as I was driving back from Gatwick, from Stockholm, in the early hours, and the darkness that surrounded me felt foreboding.