Wednesday, 9 May 2012


I felt like Odysseus, returning home to Ithaca after his years of travel as I turned the key in the door. Well, I suppose it would be an exaggeration to say that five years living in the north east of England is akin to the Trojan War. Perhaps more like Dorothy, tapping the heels of her ruby slippers three times to magic her home to Kansas. (And I swear I’ve met the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion in the Bigg Market on a Friday night.)

At Christmas I wrote of the joy of returning home for the festive season. Imagine, then, the bliss of coming home to Suffolk to live. Here the air is milder, the landscape comfortingly flat. (Teetering on the steep banks of the north east only reminded me that we are mortal beings clinging onto a globe hurtling in an orbit in a black and frightening infinity.)

Now the view to the front of our house is of a sparrow hawk hovering above a fluorescent field of oilseed rape, the village nestling in one direction, the church in another. Nothing could be more East Anglian. As I step outside on our first night, the combined smell of a wood-fuelled fire and the post-rain crop remind that I am truly home. This is my Camelot.

But it’s not just my imagination—this place really is magical. Where once the Angel of the North stood guard over us, now a whole roof-ful of angels in a neighbouring church protect us. And within just a few miles legends abound: the mysterious green children who emerged from an underground land, a lost gold mine, subject of a failed excavation by Henry VIII, and a village named after pits for trapping the wolves that once roamed the land.

But I cannot say that the north east has been unkind. We bring home our two children, both born within earshot of St James’ Park, and both gifted with contradictory Geordie characteristics. My son, with his permanent sense of impending Armageddon, and my daughter, with her ability to entertain herself under even the most trying of circumstances. We had many adventures up north—Holy Island, Durham Cathedral, Jesmond Dene and Crook Hall must count among the highlights. And there are many adventures to be relived here.

There’s a whole summer’s worth of rediscovery to come, bombing down the country lanes with the radio on full blast (no doubt my son will protest with his habitual, ‘Too loud, dear!’). Give us a toot if we drive past—we’ll be the only car in Suffolk with a Newcastle United sticker in the back…

1 comment:

  1. Evocative, warming and lyrical - great post. I especially like the idea of meeting Oz characters down the Bigg Market in Newcastle. The last Oz character I saw there bore a striking resemblance to Jimmy Nail.