Monday 9 January 2012

There's No Place Like...


How strange that we’re all growing up and drifting off to make our own little corners of the universe.

This weekend Sam and I finally went to visit my cousin in the small village near Milton Keynes she moved to a couple of years ago. Toria’s only a year younger than me, and got married a year before, so we’re very much proceeding through life at a similar pace. But -unlike me- her cute, tidy little home is miles away from the nearest big city, surrounded by parks and woodland. The small town high street is lined with cosy pubs and shops where the staff smile at you and say good afternoon.

 We fell in love with it all a bit, to be honest, probably helped along by Toria and Adam’s immense hospitality. It will be quite different when we return the favour and they come to stay with us, in our house full of amps, guitars (currently a PA system and half a drum kit too), two mental cats, Sam’s expansive collection of geeky toys and the 28739400282 books that I can’t bear to part with. We have a high street, but ours is run down and not even Sam is brave enough to go into any of the pubs on it. However we’re also 10 minutes out of a big city, full of amazing nightlife, cool shops and bars, and 12 years worth of friends.

Would we ever move away? Go a little bit further up the road to somewhere greener, where our car insurance renewal quotes don’t make us want to spontaneously vomit every year? Will we ever get to the point where we actually want to take our fingers off the pulse and go into hermitude away from everyone and everything? Move to somewhere crazy like, say, Ilkley?? 

I spent the first ten years of my life on the outskirts of Nottingham city centre, and my Dad has always lived walking distance from the market square. When I moved out of home (save for a miserable year in halls near Adel) I’ve always been throwing distance from the centre of Leeds. I like that. I like that if the weather’s nice, I can take a long walk in along the canal and just mooch, with no real purpose, stick my nose up against the shops windows and look at all the people coming and going. When I think about moving away from the city, I get a tight, panicky feeling in my chest. That fear-of-missing-out-on-something feeling. What on earth do I think I’ll miss?

The baby boomer‘s golden era is over now - if you want to own a home near a city with a good standard of living these days, you need to be earning some serious money. You can certainly live here on a modest income, but then you need to make compromises on the area you live in. Compromises on personal safety, on choice of schools for your children, on having a sense of local community. Compromises on the amenities you have on your doorstep, on home insurance premiums, on having a garden or a garage. As I get older I think these are compromises I’m less prepared to make.

I do love my house though, filled with its clutter and music and tat. Its deceptive little seaside-cottage exterior, and the tardis-like inside that goes back forever. The big south facing windows, the feeling of space and light.  I wish I was a tortoise so I could strap it to my back and waddle off up the road with it to somewhere green and pleasant.

Do you love where you live?


  1. No, we don't love where we live. Adrienne and I have felt much the same about Tasmania our last few holidays there. Much slower pace, beautiful countryside, friendly people. We're a whole lot older than you though, so I figure we'd miss the fast-paced city life less than you youngsters :-)

  2. I am FROM Tasmania - I don't think my Glasgow-born husband will ever be able to cope with Hobart small-town life no matter what age we are...

  3. Oh Penny so true. I grew up in a village & part of me would be very happy to live in one but I, and we, love London. We love our new home & that means that I love where we live. I think as you journey to finding the right home for you it doesn't feel like a compromise, however sometimes it's a long journey to get there.