So I’m a real Lancashire lass, born and bred. Although I spent the first years of my life near St Helens, Merseyside, I was actually born across the border in Ormskirk, Lancashire. We moved to Burnley when I was three, and aside from this, a three-year spell at Loughborough University and a 14 month round the world backpacking trip, I have always lived within a 5 miles of Burnley, the place I class as my hometown.
As a teenager, like a lot people, I didn’t think much about where I lived. I thought living in a city would be far more exciting, or by the sea even (influenced by an intense diet of The Famous Five and Mallory Towers!). An old cotton mill and coal mining town in the ‘grim’ North of England was quite boring in comparison.
My long-term plans did not involve living in East Lancashire. Whilst I didn’t quite look down my nose at friends who hadn’t moved away, I was superior enough to think that I would fly the nest and see the world. I left to go to university, and it was there I caught the travelling bug. On my return from backpacking, I had grand ideas of another long-term trip abroad again (I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to have that dream crushed by reality!). But also on my return, I started to look at my surroundings with different eyes. I had visited some amazing places. Blazing sunsets on the west coast of Australia.
Lush, green rice fields in Indonesia. Volcanic mountains in Hawaii. The first dewy sunrises of the day in New Zealand. Surely my hometown couldn’t compete with these? Ok not exactly, but I suddenly had an appreciation of how beautiful the Lancashire landscape was. I took notice of the rolling, vivid green fields and hills, the clean air and how the sunrises and sunsets, whilst maybe not as spectacular, could still compete with those abroad.
Anyway in the short-term, I decided I wanted to move down to London. I had quite a few friends in the capital from both university and travelling, so decided it would be the ideal place. What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? My move to London never materialised. Because of a boy. Yes love (well at the time I thought it was love!) got in the way. So as I result I stayed in East Lancashire. We broke up 18 months later but by that point I was ‘stuck’. Stuck because I’d bought a house.
Now (without the bitterness of a newly ended relationship) I appreciate how lucky I was. I had my own house at the age of 25. I wasn’t sharing. It wasn’t rented. It was my own. Well, mine and the Nationwide Building Society. I had also started working in Further Education at a local college, supporting young people in their education, lives and careers, and realised I had found a job which I had a passion for. I then went onto find real love, got married and properly ‘settled down’. Things started to fall into place.
Adam and I decided we wanted a bigger home. Although our two bedroomed terrace was sufficient for the two of us and our two kittens, we knew we wanted to start a family in the not too distance future. However putting the house on the market in the middle of a recession meant that it took well over a year to find a buyer. But thankfully we did and we found our perfect home in a nearby village.
Adam and I moved in February 2011, less than 3 weeks after Ewan died. I should have been 35 weeks pregnant struggling to pack a box let alone lift one. We didn’t expect to start our new life in our new home as grieving parents. It turned out to be a positive step for us. A fresh new start. We were able to decorate (which we hadn’t initially planned on with a new baby) and I spent those early days in painting therapy! We were also able to explore our new village and surroundings. Although we were familiar with the area, we didn’t know it awfully well. We could put on our walking boots, set off from our front door and head off over the nearby fields. It was so refreshing.
Now, four years on I think we would struggle to live anywhere else. We are only a mile from the nearest motorway, yet half a mile from glorious countryside. The village is perfect for raising our rainbows. Our favourite place is the park, which I would say is 300m from our front door. It is so easy not to have to get in the car, but instead roll down our hill with the pram (pushing it back up the hill is definitely more of a challenge… but helps with losing the baby weight!). There is a river (perfect for throwing stones), playground, duck pond, picnic benches, waterfall and big open spaces. There is even a bear! Perfect for going on a Bear Hunt. I sat down last night to pick out some photographs of the park to include. It was so difficult because I have so many! Dylan would probably go every day if we let him and even though Jude has been plenty of times already, albeit asleep, we can’t wait for him to discover it for himself.
If there are days when life gets hard, I look around and I am thankful for our lovely surroundings. Despite any hardships we may have, we are lucky beyond belief to live in a beautiful village, in a beautiful county, in the beautiful North of England. There is nowhere else I would rather be.