I was delighted to read Catherine’s latest post over at Knotted Cotton – part of the current blog hop that’s introducing creative sorts from around the world and giving us glimpses into their individual processes and idiosyncrasies. Catherine kindly mentioned Dreaming In Stitches (thank you Catherine).
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my own creative process, which I think includes most of the questions covered in the blog hop – the link to it is here if you’d like to read it again. But one question I didn’t cover then was -‘Where I live, or have lived’.
This for me, is both the easiest and confusingly also the hardest question to answer.
The simple and straightforward response is that I currently live in the Home Counties, just inside Bedfordshire, but so close to Buckinghamshire that I cross into it every morning when I walk the Delinquent Dog.
I was born and raised in rural Worcestershire, went away to university in Yorkshire and lived there for near-as-damn-it ten years, before coming south to work in the 1990s.
I met the Other Half here. This is where we married, where our children were born and where they are now at school for a few more years at least. I have lived here longer than anywhere else, it is where the others call home. But is it where I call home?
And this is where it becomes complicated.
Because although our house, our family home, is undoubtedly home, my home, my nest, my sanctuary, – at the same time, I can’t put my hand on my heart and honestly say that this area feels like home.
Deep inside, with a yearning that is so powerful it makes me come over all emotional, I want to go west. My body may be in the Home Counties, but my mind and my heart are somewhere between Hereford and Harlech. It isn’t a recent thing, although as I get older, the desire gets stronger. I long for hills and mountains, for rivers and streams, for castles and hill forts, for history seeping out of the stones.
I ache to go west and I suspect it may be in my genes. My paternal grandfather retired to Pembrokeshire and my brother has now retired to Carmarthenshire – coincidence? My mother’s family were Jones’s, so perhaps the pull comes from both directions, who can say. All I know is that if I stand for a while in the garden, I swear I start to lean over towards the west.
I’m acutely aware that this could be a recipe for huge discontent, especially since without the Other Half making major changes in his working life, it’s not likely to happen soon. Even tentative ideas for retirement are still rather more in the realms of fantasy than reality. Dwelling too much in the land of what-ifs could blind me to the beauty of what-is and I’m determined that that won’t happen.
So I make the conscious effort to tune in to the patterns of nature, to go with the same rhythms of the year that I’d experience wherever we lived and to appreciate the elements from the flat-lands as much as I’d do if I was on top of a mountain. I don’t put my enjoyment on-hold until some future time.
It’s just that when the spirit of a place burrows into your soul, it’s very difficult to ignore. I live here and I live there too.
Standing on top of Raglan Castle, looking west… pure heaven.
20 thoughts on “A sense of home…”
I know just what you mean – I have lived all over the place and when I lived in France I didn’t call it home I would say whenvisiting England “I am going back” never “I am going home to France”. Quite by accident I find myself here in the West Country now and have discovered that here I do have that feeling of belonging and I don’t want to go anywhere else ever! When you find your soul home you just know it. I do hope that you will eventually find yours and be able to move there.
Interesting isn’t it – the way some places feel right and others just don’t. I wonder where that sensation originates.
I really understood where you were coming from in this post. I have lived in London for over 20 years but I’m still a tourist! My ‘home’ is rural Leicestershire. Retirement location? I have an inkling it will be as near to my children as possible so I can look after the grandchildren! I miss the countryside of ‘home’ but London is home too.
Yes I completely get the whole ‘tourist’ thing, I always feel as if I’m just visiting here. My daughters are quite pro a westward move, so if I’m very lucky, I might get to have them nearby too – although to be honest I think they’re interested because they think there’s more chance of a horse if we move out west. Time will tell.
my daughter likes it here – friends are here so quite understandable. my son loves being in more rural places. like you say, time will tell and possibly house prices will be a factor!
“Dwelling too much in the land of what-ifs could blind me to the beauty of what-is “…and “standing in the garden…leaning to the west” ….thoughts and pictures i can connect with…
it is what it is…;-)
Thank you, yes, we’re not alone.
Your photos are just dreamy in this post! I can relate to your sense of yearning for wilder (?) western country, though when I dream of “the west” I am picturing a different continent 😉 Now, I’ve got to go brush up on my UK geography.
Mea culpa! Yes you’re right, generally speaking the further west we go, out towards Wales and the coast, the hillier and more mountainous it becomes – I’m generalising, I’m sure geographers would be horrified! But for me it is those wide open spaces, especially the hills and mountains that call to me – certainly a wilder west, if not the one from the movies!
I didn’t mean to imply that you did anything wrong! Its really wonderful, seeing your country through your eyes, and terminology!
Oh no, don’t worry – no offence! 🙂
Great to have found you via Catherine at Knotted Cotton. Totally get your yearning for home! while understanding that home is where your loved ones are. Aren’t “roots” a funny thing?! I have just returned home to Dunedin NZ, after a few years in Australia; but also feel that my roots are in the UK and I have loved people and places all over the place- just wish they could all merge into one place- but then maybe something else would be missing…?
Hello Camilla, it’s really good to meet you too – this has been such a good hop and it’s delightful to find wonderful new bloggers. You have certainly put in some miles over the years – I imagine I’d love NZ – enough mountains even for me!
Seems to me you’re experiencing hiraeth! The problem with relocations is that you find yourself torn between where your soul finds fulfilment and where your children end up – I love being back in Wales, but although one daughter is here, other kids are in London and Bristol, sisters in Northamptonshire-where we grew up. So if home is where the heart is, mine is in bits all over the shop!
Oh Theresa, I’d never heard of the word before so I looked it up and you’re right – it’s a marvellous word and gets pretty much to the heart of my longing – I am going to adopt it into English immediately.
Is it truly Wales you long for, or somewhere old and wild? I live in Wales but am always drawn further and further out to ever wilder places.
It’s a very good question Annie, but I’m pretty sure it is the land between the Marches and the Welsh coast that pulls me. I certainly adore wild places, I’ve spent a great deal of time over the years in the north west Highlands of Scotland, especially in Sutherland, which should be enough to satisfy any call of the wild, but although I think of it as the most beautiful place in the world, I’ve never really wanted to live there – visit often yes, but not make a permanent home there. Whereas plonk me down on Offa’s Dyke tomorrow and I think I’d take root immediately. The wildness is part of the attraction undoubtedly, but the long and dramatic history of the area with its remnants in the landscape, and the sense of spirituality that you sometimes stumble upon and which overwhelms you emotionally are just as important, and to me at least, unique to this area. I know not everybody believes in the spirit of the place, but I do very much indeed because on a couple of occasions I’ve really felt it.
Hi Anny, I can sympathise with your feelings here. We live in the Central Belt of Scotland but I’m always being pulled over towards the west coast with its soft light, and beautiful shores and damp mossy glens. But like you, I am learning to appreciate the benefits that living here is bringing me… they say you are always where you are meant to be (which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s forever), and I am coming to believe that. I agree with Theresa who brought up the word ‘hiraeth’, and I’d like to add another Welsh one: cynefin. There is no equivalent in English, but it describes the strong but inexplicable sense of ‘home’ that you get from a certain landscape. In fact, farmers in North Wales also used it to describe where their sheep grazed, because sheep always know where their home pasture is.
Thank you Jo for pointing me to this Welsh word too – I wonder if it’s serendipity that Welsh seems to have two words so expressive of what I’m feeling. On Wiki, this is the given definition of cynefin
‘A more complete translation of ‘cynefin’ would convey the sense that we all have multiple pasts of which we can only be partly aware: cultural, religious, geographic, tribal etc. The word is sometimes used to describe an environment where a person feels they belong or knowledge and sense of place that is passed down the generations. It can also refer to fleeting moments in time: “a place or the time when we instinctively belong or feel most connected. In those moments what lies beneath mundane existence is unveiled and the joy of being alive can overwhelm us.’
And this is a perfect summary of what I’m trying to express – the ‘fleeting moments and the overwhelming joy’ entirely resonate.
I’m very grateful to you and Theresa for your insights.
It’s absolutely true, Anny! That describes it perfectly.
I often wonder how people felt in the ‘pioneer’ days when men left their homes for ever, to go to America or Australia in search of their fortune – or when families were forcibly expelled in the Clearances. I think it explains why so many people are drawn back here, particularly to Scotland and Ireland, sometimes without even knowing where their ancestors came from.