It’s no good. The time has come to tell the truth. I have been leading a double life and I feel the need to confess. 30 years of marriage to a Catholic and finally some of it is rubbing off.
The fact is, I only spend part of my time on the Edge of the Fens.
There. It’s out. Much as I love The Land That Time Forgot, or ‘Lincolnshire’ as it is more widely known, the west coast of Scotland has been a constant in my life and we get here as often as possible. (Yes, ‘here’.) School holidays, half term, bank holiday weekends – it’s a day’s drive each way, but more than worth it. There were times, mind you, when the children were smaller, that even my dedication wavered: there’s nothing like being stuck in a Shepherd’s Bush traffic jam, struggling to get to the bottom of the M1 while looking down the barrel of 11 hours in a car with a toddler or two to make you question your devotion to a place. And some people, come to think of it.
You may remember that when Eeyore first got really serious about our move out of London, I stipulated mountains and water. Well, perhaps part of the reason why he felt free to ride roughshod over that one was because we have access to both of those, aplenty, at my mother’s house in Argyll – in fact, there’s very little else. She and my father bought it about 40 years ago while living in London: when she married Dad, he already had a place up here near the house his grandparents had built, but as our family grew and the penchant for things nautical developed, bedroom space and proximity to the sea became more important. Then there was talk of a caravan park nearby, and a load of new houses, and matters became pressing. So imagine her delight when, sitting under the dryer one day at the hairdressers on Kensington Church Street, Mum found a tiny ad in ‘The Lady’ for what looked to be an ideal alternative. (Not her natural reading material: she swears it was a once-off.) Arguably that turned out to be the most expensive hair-do in the history of the western world – but then again, my children are the fifth generation of us to be here, and the store of memories and connections is enormous, so personally I consider it money well spent. At one point they owned the village shop and Mum was the postmistress and delivery driver. We would decamp here for two months at a time during the summer and my father would slog up and down to spend his weekends swatting midges and trying to get campfires to burn rather than smoulder in the incessant drizzle. We grew spuds and raspberries in a seaweed rich veg patch and my four siblings and I became incredibly good at Airfix, Monopoly and Racing Demon, thanks to the weeks of torrential rain – forgive me therefore if tales of Life on the Edge (of the Loch) start to creep in. Especially if, as now, I am writing from the sitting room, at sea level, about 50’ from the water.
And while we’re at it: a word about my children – well, Eeyore’s and my children, strictly speaking, though I’m often loath to admit it. They have read this blog now for over a year and, disappointingly, have not yet found it as cringe-inducing as they had feared. Indeed, they are almost keen (I say ‘almost’: you need to know them) to be known by a more personal moniker than a number. Henceforth, therefore, they will be called by their nicknames: Bug (No1), Whizz (No2) and Jib (No3). Got that? And when in the future they whinge, or charge me for their therapy, I will remind them that they chose to cast off the cloak of anonymity. I intend to make them rue the day ….