The long way home

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Snow permitting, I am on my travels again briefly, and heading north. Regular visitors may have noticed that on very rare occasions I may mention the North of England. Just the odd, passing reference perhaps, here and there, to Yorkshire or the moors, barely anything at all really… hardly even a whisper…. I may not even have mentioned it is known as God’s own county…

Oh? Ok I did. But only quietly. You probably didn’t notice.

I have lived in the south for a long time. It was , I freely admit, my own fault and an accident. I stuck a pin in a map blindfold one day and it landed here. I should have peeked. And that is perfectly true. It was … is… only temporary. Yes… two decades still counts as temporary. It dawned on me I’d been saying fifteen years for a while now so I had to recalculate. Even so…

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I have nothing at all against the south in general or Buckinghamshire in particular. It is beautiful, green and rural. It revels in better weather than the north, as a rule. It is more affluent on the whole.  Many parts of the south have their own particular wildness, with hills and moorland, great stones and mystery. Chocolate box villages scatter the countryside, thatched cottages abound and their roofs are not moss green from the damp.

waddesdon 064The villages are delightful. An odd juxtaposition of buildings spanning six hundred years or so, all jostling for attention on tiny high streets. Every style of domestic architecture from the past few centuries. Churches date back a thousand years, castles even longer. Miles of one track lanes wind through the maze of hedgerows and there are flowers and birds, deer and badgers.

So one day, I stuffed the camera in my pocket when I drove into town, determined to photograph the landscape at its best in the sunshine. Completely set on doing it justice, redressing the balance and in the interests of that great British institution, fair play, I determined to drive the long way home.

The five mile journey became fifteen… which is a very long way on potholed tracks on lanes too narrow to stop when the inevitable car is right behind you. Not that I mind. I love driving. Though it would be nice to be able to see over the hedgerows. Give me a dry stone wall any day…

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So I pottered off through the villages and the lanes between, absolutely determined to find some beautiful shots to show you how pretty the countryside is around here. I can’t say it worked very well. I could have photographed architecture all day, the history and diversity are incredible in these parts. But I wanted to show you the landscape. Although we are right on the edge of the Chiltern hills here, the land is relatively flat. Well, compared to, say, the Pennines.

Sighs… see? It always turns back to the north. Roots are roots after all and mine go deep into the land there. I suppose it is the shared life, tuned to the pitch of the very earth.

Life itself is an indefinable thing. We can measure whether a creature is alive or not, because we have learned how. We recognise life in human, animal, insect and plant. Where there is sentience it is easy to see life’s presence or absence. Yet ‘life’ is such an inexact term really… we do not, I think, know exactly what it is.  Look up the word in a dictionary… they describe but cannot define.

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I think there is only one kind of ‘life’. It is manifested in different ways, at different speeds or frequencies, perhaps, in animal and plant, crystal and insect, its expression defined by its vehicle. Who can say if the earth beneath our feet also lives, with a life too long and deep and slow for us to see? I feel somehow that it does. So I think it not unlikely that there is something in the harmonics of a place and a person that can resonate and it becomes home.

Perhaps the land, with its rocks and verdure, the minerals and wildlife together sing a particular harmony that plays on our heartstrings and finds an answering song in the soul. Perhaps it is that strain of inner music that makes a place feel like somewhere we belong. Maybe it is an echo of a greater song we are too small to hear but catch a whisper when we stand where our hearts sing.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Landscape, Life, Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to The long way home

  1. Michael says:

    Lovely read…

    Was in ilkley and Skipton this week and your love of the north did cross my mind as i drove past the cow and calf…

    Then i went to Betty’s and stuffed my face

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ksbeth says:

    i love your view of the world wherever you may find yourself. i also find it fascinating how we find ourselves in places.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. jenanita01 says:

    I don’t seem to have any roots. Still looking for some, even now at 75. It must be wonderful to know you belong somewhere…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    A lovely post about the earth centered in the south of England.

    Like

  5. Auntysocial says:

    I’m extremely fortunate to live in the North of England along a private dirt-rack road that ruins my car tyres and just this morning ended the life of my exhaust (now secured temporarily with baler twine as Northern life dictates)

    We are without street lighting so walking to and from the farm first and last thing often results in lots of tripping up and cursing and swearing and I have to put LED collars on the dogs just to keep track of their whereabouts. It’s like watching two little UFO’s bouncing around the field at low level. Fences routinely fail to serve their purpose of keeping livestock securely contained in surrounding fields. In another couple of months we’ll hear the soft bleating of newborn lambs followed closely by them all standing outside the patio doors eating my daffodils like they own the joint.

    I’ll shoo them and get the dogs to gently guide them back to their field and either tie the gate with more baler twine and / or find some wood to block up the hole in the fence they all nipped through in the first place.

    My hallway and back door leading into the kitchen has hard wearing ceramic tiles, a basket with towels for wiping off wet dogs, wellies, change of socks and more lead ropes than a tack shop.

    It’s murder between late September until about March because there’s literally nothing but darkness, rain, mud, sludge, cold and falling over everything but once Spring kicks in we have the whole world to ourselves. Dogs enjoy going for very early morning swims in the river and again in the evening to cool off and the only downside is having them “boof! Boo-woo-woo!!” at 3am because the windows are all left open and they can hear hedgehogs scuttling around on the gravel outside but there are worst things we could have to endure.

    I absolutely love living here 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Mary Smith says:

    You will go home one day, Sue. Your heart knows it and that’s why you can be content living in the deep south for now.

    Like

  7. lizannelloyd says:

    You should come further south, to the North or South Downs to see landscape.

    Like

  8. Ah yes, that made me smile. I’ll take the stone wall any day too 😉

    Like

  9. You just made me homesick! Beautiful photos and lovely post

    Like

  10. Or is it just that it’s better up North?

    Like

  11. macjam47 says:

    What a lovely story, Sue! Your description of the south was so vivid I could picture myself there. Love and hugs. 💕🤗💕

    Like

  12. Darlene says:

    I just returned from visiting my “home” in southern Alberta and I know just what you mean. I haven’t lived there for well over 30 years but the draw to the land is still strong.

    Like

  13. V.M.Sang says:

    I, too, am a northrner, though from the other side of the Pennines. Cheshire to be exact.. I’ve lived in the south for decades, too, bit as you say, roots are roots. Although I like living in the south, and the weather is better, there’s something about the rugged moorland of the Pennines, the beauty of the Lake District, and the wild Northumberland coast. Even the cities. They have a life the southern ones don’t have.
    I’m reminded of an old folk song that begins: A north country maid up to London has strayed, and though with her nature it did not agree. She wept and she sighed and bitterly she cried,’ I wish once again in the north I could be.’

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Eliza Waters says:

    The pull of ‘home’ is strong. I lived away for 19 years, but as soon as I could, I returned, spouse and child in hand!

    Like

  15. Widdershins says:

    I’ll get there one day soon. Is there a place in the North that calls you in particular. 🙂

    Like

  16. Jennie says:

    A delightful read, Sue! Your thinking always takes us beyond the words and photos. You gave true meaning to the term ‘roots’.

    Like

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