This isn’t where I would choose to live, this flat nowhere town caught between the Midlands and the Fens. East Anglia gets forgotten at the best of times, I’ve seen it entirely excised from lists of areas of the UK, but a town that slides off the rolling countryside of Northamptonshire and lands like a demoralised pancake on the edges of the bleak Fenland flats, that is truly a dreary and unwanted place. No one wants us, no one claims us, we were even neatly removed from Cambridgeshire a few years ago, made into a unitary authority that belongs nowhere, marooned like an inglorious Switzerland between Norfolk, Lincolnshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.
It is safe to say that this is not a place I dreamt of making my home; my heart lies among hills and country lanes, my heart would move to Devon or Yorkshire. I’m not fired with enthusiasm for expanses of land that was once under the sea and is now farmed like prairies. I think it must be the most uninspired place in England. It lacks everything, there is even a 60 mile circle of nothing around us on the National Trust map. I think being under a wash of sea water for so long is probably bad for heritage.
Yet it does have Iron Age and Bronze Age and Saxon heritage and Roman heritage, if you know where to look and a remarkable Cathedral with Katherine of Aragon buried in it. Admittedly she was buried here because by 1536 it was a town of respectable and glorious past but now a backwater, but she is here. Mary Queen of Scots was too, having been beheaded just down the road, on the hill Max and I sometimes walk to the top of. The Romans made of this city a place that was worthy of Ermine Street going through, a place to dig for clay and make pots; the ground is full of their remains. The Great North Road though, these days, is the best I can say of my home city; its descendant is a few minutes from us and means we can make a quick get away! I think sometimes I live in a city that simply missed the moment to do something great; it feels like it has been in the hands of the deeply uninspired for a very long time. This sprawling city has swallowed villages on every side, who sit still whole but engulfed among modern estates, clinging to the propriety that was once due to them.
‘Do you live in the village?’ someone asked me while I watered the allotment. I laughed. Do I live in one of these thatched cottages in among 10,000 Lego homes? No. No, I don’t.
We live here because Max got a job here. We met when he was at university, had a funny, slightly not one way or another relationship for a couple of years and lived together while he was in his last year. But I wasn’t important enough to him at the time to be party to the job decision and when the first person to offer him a job was acceptable to him, here is where he came. I had a choice; I could go too, or not go – and he really didn’t mind too much either way which I did.
So I did. I didn’t really have any other plans and it seemed as good as any other. We bought a house together, despite my manager at work (I worked in a bank) telling him my family were a bad financial proposition and he shouldn’t get a mortgage with me. Within 2 years, we’d had Fran and the rest, as they say, is history. But I wonder a lot, these days in the way you do, what changes to our future life were wrought by that one decision. Did the rubbish dump near the city cause Fran’s cleft and, therefore, her birth? If we’d been in a different city might history have played out differently, leading eventually to five lovely, healthy and happy children?
We’ve nearly moved, a couple of times. Once we got a long way into a process of moving to Switzerland, before getting cold feet about the company. We looked long and hard at houses in Devon and Max applied for jobs there. We nearly bought a house out in the dreaded fens. When Max gave up work, that ought to have been the time to pick up our business and move to Devon, but the timings were weird and just as the threads to an engineering works were severed, so new threads of staff and responsibilities and activities and friends the children love grew up.
There is one funny thing; when I was little, we used to drive to my grandparents house and we went through this part of the country to get there. It was a 3 hour drive but only one part of it stuck in my head. An RAF base, two signs to villages off to the left, a petrol station at another village that looked like the Starship Enterprise and a water tower. They were land marks; I knew we were half way. They’ve ended up being landmarks I pass almost every week, places within 5 minutes drive of my home. It’s funny to think that some future part of my soul was calling out and saying ‘mark us; you will know us’.
When we moved here, we laughingly said ‘This is the kind of place where you suddenly realise you’ve been here 20 years and got old. We must make sure that doesn’t happen.’
15 years and counting.
Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine tells us Home is where the heart is.
Jules at I Need Curtains for the Window In My Head posts Why Do I Live Where I Do?
South of the River Mum writes about Bringing up children in London.
Scribbling Mum explains why she lives where she does.
Jacq from Mymumdom posts about why she lives in London.
Rachel at Midlife Singlemum tells us Why she lives in Israel.
Kelly at Domestic Goddesque tells us about Wonderful, wonderful Bromley, and why I live there.
Bibsey Mama gives us 7 reasons to live in Spain in Cool Espa???a.
Helen at Cheeky Wipes tells us There??s Always a Compromise.
Jenny at The Gingerbread House tells us about her home in Our house.
Cass at The Diary of a Frugal Family tells us Home is Where The Heart Is.
Jax at Live Otherwise/Making it Up explains Why I live here. Right here. In this house.
Emma at MummyMummyMum tells us about where she lives.
Cara at Freckles Family posts Where I Call Home.
Pure Lanzarote tell us the reasons for their choice in Why live in Lanzarote?
Ella at Notes From Home explains her choices in Why we live where we do.
being left feeling I??m a Philistine though.
(This post was recreated from a back up following a server crash. As such, it is missing comments and hits and would love to get some back!)