Monday, 25 July 2011

Remember Me?

In the middle of Morecambe Bay

Well it's been a while hasn't it?  No excuses, let's just get stuck into a quick overview of what's been happening since May.  (MAY??!!).  Right (deep breath) since my last post we have: been up Helvellyn via the Thirlmere route - just as far but fewer tourists & more sheep; been back up the Old Man - well at least that was the plan, we ended up walking every ridge around the Old Man whilst deftly avoiding the chap himself; walked across Morecambe bay from Arnside to Kent's Bank - a lot flatter than the Old Man but a bloomin' long way through soft sand; completed a historic tour of Grange learning all about the history of the place from its beginings as a farm village, through to WW2 when the Germans bombed a house containing two evacuees sent to Grange to avoid the blitz, just because you're not paranoid it doesn't mean they're not out to get you; played host to our first overnight guests - my nephew & his fiancee; played host to our second over night guests - my lovely in laws; played host to two additional guests in our garden in the shape of two cheeky deers munching away on our apple trees; lost the "who can eat all the blackcurrants first" race against the local birds; celebrated Steve's 40th birthday in style with fish & chips and champagne; watched the Red Arrows zoom over our heads at the Windermere air show and have generally had lots of fun settling in to our new surroundings.

Garden Visitors
We've not exactly managed a Wainwright a week but we've been pretty darned close and have done lots of other things besides.  Over four years we lived in Fleet and right up until the end you could have dropped us 5 miles from home in certain directions and we would have been completely lost, whereas up here we're whizzing around like locals already.  Mind you I suppose the fact that there are far fewer roads helps enormously!

I've also spent time pondering the meaning of the term 'local'.  I've noticed that born and bred Cumbrians are very territorial and don't always take too kindly to us "offcomers" (as they call us.)  But what does it take to be classed as a local?  I regularly play the "Steve grew up around here" card to help worm my way into people's affections, and it really helps that his mum was a teacher at the local village school, but why do I need to?  I'm used to the South East which is one enormous melting pot/ simmering couldron (depending on which newspaper you read) of people from all over the place, and no one really bothers much about where you come from - but up here it's really not like that.  The truth is we will *never* be local in some people's eyes as illustrated by a recent conversation I had with a lovely elderly, and very local, lady.  We were discussing the guy who conducted the historic tour of Grange and she informed me that he wasn't local due to the fact that although he was born here his parents weren't.

Even have a spring after heavy rain!
So where would I be considered local?  Not where I grew up as I've spent more of my life living somewhere other than there and anyway I now speak "too posh" to pass myself off as one of Darlaston's daughters.  I would never have considered myself local to the South East as I didn't live anywhere down there for longer than 6 years, I guess I just couldn't find anywhere where I felt settled.  So that leaves here, where apparently the indigenous population don't want me to be local despite the fact that I live and work here.  I realise that after 3 months any attempts to claim to be local are laughable - but how long does it take before a serious claim can be made on local status?  Several generations according to some people.

And once you've gained 'local' status, how far do you have to go before you make the transition from 'local' to 'tourist'?  For instance we live right at the bottom of the Lake District - so when we visit Ambleside or Keswick are we then tourists?  It's all terribly confusing!

I'll settle for the fact that I feel happier and more at home here than I have done anywhere for a very long time.  I love the views, I love the local shops, I love our mad little "biddy" bungalow, I love our garden full of fruiting trees and bushes - even though we haven't managed to eat much of anything yet, and I love the train journey across the Kent Estuary, especially this time of year when I can watch the tourists stare wide eyed at the fells in the distance as we glide along a few feet above the water.  Well, I say tourists, who knows where their parents were born?  Maybe, like me, they're lost souls just waiting for a kindly county to take them in.