Before moving to Harrogate (or Killinghall, just outside the town), last year I lived in a small town I knew like the back of my hand. Eastwood is a typical urban-fringe type of place, any any-town from, but my-town. Thought the edge of Nottingham’s sprawl it’s (mostly) surrounded by countryside. DH Lawrence knew it well – the countryside around Eastwood, broadly still in tact, was one of the few things about his home town he truly loved.
Though it’s in no way spectacular, that countryside was ‘mine’ and it holds many memories. It’s the canal I used to walk and fish with friends as a teenager, the woods we used to escape to. It’s where I did my first long distance hike (which I wrote up on this blog). It’s the little country park with the little pond where my wife and I sat and held each other in grief after our first child was stillborn. It’s the same park where just a few short – but oh-so long – years later we took our babies on their first trips out in their buggies and where they took their first steps.
Despite the memories, it was only after moving that I really appreciated the sense of my place in my space they’d given me.
But do I actually miss Eastwood? No, not really. While I’m nostalgic for my old, warm blanket of a place, I’m even more keen to start exploring my new one. I’m loving settling into a new home, excited about a new town, and thrilled at having Nidderdale and the Yorkshire Dales literally on my doorstep.
But my mental map around home has gone from being full of memories to one which is, well, a bit of a blank.
I’ve only had chance for the briefest excursions so far. But even those are enough to begin padding out the map, and starting to turn white space into a new understanding and appreciation of my new place.
And now spring is in the air and with a determination to get the boots, bike and paddles out more and keep adding to the map. Every time I walk, run, cycle or paddle anywhere around home it will become territory I know – my new familiar and so onto the map. Hopefully at the point of being in the house for a year there’ll be a lot less white space!
A few (bad – my phone sucks!) pictures from my initial explorations: