I was so fortunate to grow up in a lovely area of Hampshire, England, with rural villages aplenty. From an early age we felt safe to take off on our bicycles with friends along the country lanes and along the Basingstoke Canal. My father would take my sister and I on 16 mile bike rides with a prerequisite stop at a village pub for lunch. I will always have a strong connection with the town I grew up and where many of my former school and college friends still reside. It says a lot about a place when many people choose to stay on there after having made the journey into adulthood. On visits home to the UK we are always made so welcome and feel incredibly fortunate to still be in touch with old friends and pick up on conversations from eons ago.
This evening, I was catching up on the ‘Fleet Pond’ blog. Fleet Pond is the largest freshwater lake in Hampshire and was recorded in Saxon times as supplying fish to the monks of St. Swithins (now the Cathedral) at Winchester (another place in my heart as I worked there for a year back in 1998/99). The recent post in the blog displays a wonderful photograph which really captures a moment in time and reflects on the history of this peaceful spot. The photograph is credited to an article in The Independent, by Andy McSmith, which starts off, ‘If your home is where Hart is – well, lucky you. It is a tranquil corner of Hampshire where the statistics suggest that the quality of life is higher than anywhere else in the country.’ Naturally, on reading this article I felt extremely fortunate to have grown up in such a peaceful spot where my childhood was akin to something out of an Enid Blyton ‘Secret Seven’ story!
Credit: The Independent UK
Mixed with this wonderful childhood, I was also fortunate to have wonderful Grandparents in Penarth, South Wales, where my mother (aka ‘Chicken Grandma’ – because she makes great animal sounds on the telephone – love you Mum!) grew up, which made for wonderful seaside memories. We’d visit once every six week’s or so throughout my childhood. And in Liverpool my dear father’s large family were always welcoming with big open arms and a lot of fun guaranteed! He grew up in a wonderful family of seven children. Alas, his father passed away when he was very young and his amazing big sis helped his mother bring up the children. I am in total awe of them and the wonderful people they are today.
Though I am now living on the other side of the world bringing up two little Kiwi-born children I will forever be proud of my roots and never lose the strong connection I have. Dan too feels strongly passionate about his home and still supports his beloved Burnley! He grew up in the hills of Lancashire and as a little girl I used to jokingly say, ‘One day I’ll marry a man from the hills,’ as I loved the accents and the hills! Here we are, a Hampshire born lass and a Lancashire lad, living in the hills of Wellington a long way from home, but forging forward in bringing up our two beloved daughters in their home.
If ‘Home is Where the Heart Is’ then my heart will forever be in two pieces tightly interwoven in a bond of love. My physical home is here right now, but in my mind it is wherever it wants to be. My heart, most definitely, will always have two homes.