My home town

I've been pondering my nationality again following the UK's vote to leave the European Union.

I've no passport right now, and I guess I was hoping they would become a thing of the past by the time I got to travel again.

Instead it looks as though I'd better make some decisions, and join the queues to get passports for me and my children, or our shopping trips to Newry could come to an end. Let alone any plans to travel further afield.

See I really don't know where I belong anymore.

Today my home town is Dublin, and has been for 26 years, yet I still haven't acquired an Irish accent, and only last month I was asked once again how long I was staying on holidays...

So the home town I'm writing about today is a small market town on the English/Welsh border where I grew up in the 60s and 70s when children still roamed free and computers were the size of small rooms.

The town was built where three rivers meet in a bowl in the hills, so it has its own microclimate and I learned to always ask about flooding whenever I moved house. We lived on a low hill, so walking down town and up home was my life for 18 years.

You walked past the Hospital where my Grandad died and a nurse lanced my swollen finger. Now closed. Past the Girl's Grammar school with its bridge across the road that linked the classrooms with the main school building. The school prefects used to patrol the bridge with elastic bands to press on any pupil who dared to try and cross with long loose hair. Still there, though perhaps the hair police are not! Past the bus stop where the bus failed to stop one time when I was seven.  Past the houses where my friends used to live and up the steep hill to home.

When I was a child, our home backed onto fields and that's where I roamed during the long hot summers. Because they were of course. I would wade through the cow parsley with binoculars swinging round my neck and a sun hat bouncing against my back being Nancy from Swallows and Amazons, or Laura from Little House on the Prairie. In the winter I became Lucy searching for a magical door into Narnia.

The town became my life, once I hit my teens. At its heart is the market square, where stalls were put up 'under the arches' every Friday, and two of the town's 17 pubs squared up to each other across the cobblestones.

The record shop was there too, where you could buy singles for 30p once they dropped out of the top 20. Yes, I was careful with money even then.

The cake shop where I got my first job and acquired a love of Chelsea buns and a work ethic that has stayed with me since.

Behind it, the town castle I never did get around to visiting...

Between the square and the big church is a small narrow street that housed the book shop where I spent my pocket money on Ladybirds every Saturday, the grocer's shop that delivered every week and the tiny cinema where I screamed through Carrie and was inspired by Grease.

Lots of teenage memories from eating chips and curry sauce while shivering in the bus station that's now a supermarket car park to parties on the island in the river behind the weir, or at free houses around the town. Scurrying home from lighted window to lighted window after the street lamps were switched off at midnight.

The magnificent views of the Welsh hills from the town and the gorgeous views of the town from the hills. The annual road race up one of the hills to the monument at the top. The bluebell woods, the flame coloured hill sides in autumn, the sound and sparkle of running water.

The show and the carnival. One of my best friends winning carnival queen. One set of traffic lights. Cruising up and down the main street in my boyfriend's car.

Returning and seeing the changes: the chain stores replacing the family run shops and boutiques, all the road markings and the street furniture. Decent coffee and more choice than chips. I still hungrily follow news of my hometown on line and admire the gorgeous pictures of which I have none!

My parents have died now and our home is sold. I still have friends living in the town, but there's nothing left of my family except a drift of snowdrops in the church yard planted in memory of my mum.

So that was my home town then, and Dublin is my home town now. Yet in many ways I belong in both places. We're all Welsh now, as the BBC commentator said after the superb win by the Welsh team against Belgium in the quarter finals of the Euro 16 tournament. I felt so much pride for the country where I grew up. Nationalism is heartwarming and inclusive at times like that. But the world has seen its ugly side in recent months too. I just want to be a citizen of the world, but post Brexit I'm worried that I will be forced to decide between Ireland and Wales. Please don't make me choose.

I've few photos of my home town, this is the house where my grandparents lived.
I've added this to the #livewhereyoulive linky over at Where Wishes Come From, which inspired this post.


15 comments:

  1. Such a lovely post and great tribute to your hometown :-) I might join this linky as it's so inspiring! All your descriptions reminded me of my travels to Fishguard (it's twinned with my home town) about 20 years ago when I was a teenager, I absolutely loved the place and its people.

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    1. Thank you! I hope you do join in, I think it's only open for a few more days though..

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    2. It would be great if you'd join in Anne! I've extended the linky until the 31st July (and I can extend it further if needs be). I love reading about the places that people live.

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  2. Beautifully written, I can picture it very clearly
    Aud x

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    1. Thanks so much Aud, I'm really glad you liked it :) x

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  3. Hiya I popped over from the linky. What a lovely post. I have visited Dublin many times and I loved it! Hopefully will be back one day!

    www.sparklesatmidnight.com

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  4. I love this post. It's dripping with nostalgia. I'm reminded of the saying that home is not a place it's a time. We can go back to the place but it's not the same as it was at the time. And of course I know exactly how it feels to belong to two places and to feel torn between them.

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    1. I know you do, and I know what you mean about the place too - several times I have considered 'moving back' to places where I have lived before, but I know they would not be the same, and the people there will have moved on too x

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  5. Ohh I love this, thanks for the insight. I had no idea, i always thought you were a good irish girl! lol Mich x

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    1. Ha! I've never hidden my origins, but perhaps I've gone a bit native now too :) x

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  6. I loved reading this post and learning more about your past. Keep on sharing. Have you seen the latest Ladybird books? ... they are aimed at adults and are very amusing. xx

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    1. I've seen people posting about one, but never taken a look, perhaps I should! xx

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  7. This is just so beautifully written. I absolutely adore it. I wouldn't blame you for feeling torn between two places. Your home-town sounds idyllic. Thanks so much for joining in the linky xx

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    1. Thank you for setting it up, it was fun to remember xx

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