I’m English but a bit of a mongrel like most of my countryfolk. There’s the Welsh, Romany and probably all sorts of other nationalities who’ve had a hand in my genetic make up. I’ll be the first to admit that, historically, our country has been responsible for some shockers. But is then any nation that is squeaky clean in terms of its record towards its citizens, other people on the planet and the environment? Our flag is sometimes seen as a negative symbol. Let those of us with kind open hearts reclaim it from those who use it as a symbol of hate!
To celebrate the diverse beauty of the land of my birth I’m going on a little alphabetical tour. Here’s some places that evoke memories. I’ll admit it’s a little devoid of this country’s more Northern reaches, something that I’ll have to rectify in our motorhome when I retire.
Aldeburgh: The Suffolk seaside town where my brother put starfish down my back on a family holiday.
Bristol; My favourite English city. Such a chilled place. I’m lucky that Red Mel lives there. I visit quite often.
Canvey Island: A boyfriend had an apartment on the seafront. Sounds idyllic until you remember that this island off the Essex coast was flooded in the fifties and now boasts massive marine defences. No sea views there!
Dartmouth: I worked here for many years. A lovely community. Good for a bit of posh charity shopping in my lunch hours.
Exeter: I lived, worked and studied here for over two decades. A thriving city where you can see way into the country from the centre of town.
Farncombe: I volunteered in this Surrey village before I went to university in a community that included nuns. Really!
Gidea Park: A suburb of Romford where my grandparents owned the Wavy Line store in the seventies.
Hereford: There is a gargoyle of my dad carved on the cathedral by my brother here.
Ilminster: Charming Somerset town where Hot Stuff lived when I met him. It has everything including a cheese shop!
Jacobstow: I met my ex husband at a wedding in this wee Devon village. ‘Nuff said but it’s got ‘J’ out of the way.
Kings Lynn: Home when I was wee that I remember scantlly. I spent most of my time there chatting to Rip, the big friendly German Shepherd dog next door.
Lyme Regis: My fossil hunting stop off on the Jurassic Coast.
Maldon: An estuary town in Essex. I have fond memories of Promenade Park that I used to visit as a child.
Newcastle: Probably the place where I had the best night out ever.
Ottery St Mary: On 5th November men from this small town run through the streets with burning tar barrels on their backs. An event that I went to on a few occasions when I was younger but might avoid now I am less sprightly!
Plymouth: The scene of many memorable parties and where I first worked as an occupational therapist.
Queensway: A London haunt where I used to ice skate as a teenager.
Ross on Wye: A gateway to the Forest of Dean – English woodland at its best.
Southend-on-Sea: My childhood home. The site of the longest pleasure pier in the world and where I developed my taste for cockles.
Totnes: Hippie central: Where I worked for sixteen years gazing out onto the keep of a medieval castle. We went there yesterday to buy cheese.
Upminster: Right on the edge of London, this was the location of my sixth form in a school founded by men who made barrels for beer
Vange: V was a hard one. This is a suburb of the Essex town of Basildon. I believe that I passed through on a Guide and Scout night hike in the eighties. We were in camo gear carrying an injured airman on a stretcher. Explain that one when you’re passing the nightclubs at kicking out time!
Westward Ho!: My Nan and Grandad took me on my first holiday here. I remember little except that there were Noddy charity boxes. His bell rang when you made a donation.
Xanadu: Apparently this is a rock in Cornwall. I’ve never been. I’ll have to add it to my bucket list.
York: Site of school trip and sleeping three in a bed in an old nunnery because we were scared of ghostly goings on.
Zennor: I always remember a trip to this tiny Cornish village with my university friends. I’ve visited more recently with Hot Stuff and his mates. The cliff are awesome!