Thursday, 17 September 2009

North Northumberland my heart belongs to you

I spoke to my dad and my auntie last night. my dad is on holiday at my aunt's farm in Belford, which is 5 miles inland from Bamburgh, along the A1.
And now all i want to do is pitch up in the field and stay up there too.

i spent all my summer holidays on that farm, which has sheep, horses, chickens, ducks and of course, long dead now, Abelard the peacock. altho towards my teen years the holdiays were a bit traumatic with rows, all my memories of the farm, the landscape and Northumberland itself is bathed in a hazy glow of joy.

i don;'t even have to close my eyes to picture every square inch of my aunt's land. i can walk up the drive with the fields on my left, dogs scampering around my feet, i can look for the ducks on the stream and i can feel the rough texture of the hay as i look for eggs.

it was a joke in my family that i knew exactly where i was wherever i was in northumberland. i could point in a direction and confidently say that lindisfarne was over there and happy valley was in that direction. ahh, happy valley! or north middleton. it is over ten years since i last went swimming in the river that forms a pool with the tree you can dive from, and i can still see all the lush greenery that keeps the swimming hole from sight, i can feel the water pounding on my shoulders over the rocks as i sat in the shallows.

the water is uniformly cold in northumberland, particularly in lynhope spout, the waterfall that crashed from the moors and mountains into a seemingly depthless pool that could take you to the centre of the earth. peaty and brown, but as crisp and fresh as icicles. wooler common, the pine woods with the silent floor of moss that looks as if it is a home for fairies. heather on the moors that buzzes with bee communities that makes the freshest, tangiest heather honey. the cattle at chillingham which will kill each other if touched by humans. the ford at ford and etal.

but mostly there is the sea. i think a part of me forever will live on stag rock, or crouched behind watching the crabs and shrimps wade through the rockpools. the sea of the coast of bamburgh has a wild and frightening quality that i have never seen replicated. pulled in by an army of white horses, flecked with green and blue and grey and white, swirling with a dynamism and rage that has sent it from the far north to this strange little sea side town famous for a castle and a heroine. fish and chips and picnics and digging holes and emerging from the sea covered in sea weed and dregs of sand, running from jellyfish.

different from the golden sands of embleton, and the eery green brown mudflats of budle bay.

there are more sheep than people and there is a silence, a solitariness in my memories, a feeling of peace and a sense of one-ness with the landscape. the drama of the moors and hills that fall out of sight into more land and heather, an endless parade of rugged, lonely and frightening beauty.

standing in the fields of the farm, costalot or quest or raffles nudging my hand or shoulder, sheep eying me suspiciously, a chicken exploding with eggs.

i love north northumberland with a strange passion that i don't feel for any place i have lived or holidayed in. i love bristol and paris and i have a love hate relationship with london, i adored nice and think barcelona is tops, i was crazy for rejkavik and went crazy in tokyo and i have a fond affection for plymouth and cornwall. but there is something in my very soul and heart that craves northumberland, something that makes me feel wholly home when i am there. part of me lives there. i dream about it vividly, in a way i have never dreamt of another place, and i can see it more clearly than i can even picture the streets where i live. it is my place.

No comments: