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So, here we are. A blog dedicated entirely to life in Northumberland.
If you had told me three years ago that I would dedicate my time to writing a love letter to this region, I would have laughed in your face. I have not always loved Northumberland. Many people would criticise me for saying this, but I originally found this area and it's inhabitants hard to know, let alone love. I moved up here for love, my husband, a stoutly fanatical Northumbrian, always felt he couldn't possibly live anywhere else and so I followed him North post-University. A self-confessed city mouse, I did not thrive or see the inherent charms of living somewhere so traditional and isolated. Having lived in forward thinking, progressive urban areas all my life up until 2008, I felt like I was sinking in a rural backwater, in an area that most of the country haven't even heard of, let alone pinpoint on the map. Don't believe me? One of my former University friends thought that once you left Newcastle, you were in Scotland!
My friends didn't visit me, my family were horrified at the idea of me wasting my life (and my educational qualifications) in an area where I was likely to be underemployed and (in their eyes) bored. My mother waxed lyrical on the one occasion she visited me about the terrible ordeal she had driving down "dirt tracks" and seeing cows, god forbid! I found myself, that despite my husband trying to convince me that Northumberland was one of the hidden gems of England, that I didn't love the place. When I found myself pregnant with my first child, I panicked and we ended up packing and leaving to return to the urban Yorkshire landscape that I was so familiar with.
It was only when I went full circle and returned to where I came from, that I realised that somehow...Northumberland had got under my skin. Every time the Bradford bus braked to narrowly avoid hitting some dumb kid on a micro scooter, I thought about how the local Northumbrian bus stopped to allow families of ducks to cross the road. My husband kept complaining about the noise at night in Bradford and once he pointed it out to me, I couldn't help but hear the sounds of the city and miss the alternative Northumbrian sounds of the trees, birdsong in the morning and when we lived in Bamburgh, the early morning noise of the farmer driving his sheep down the road into the adjacent field.
Having a child makes you see things differently. You no longer value the trendy eateries and nightlife. You instead look for places that will be genial when your little noise-maker pukes on the floor. Everything seems like a threat when you are a parent. The defining moment for us, when my husband and I looked at each other and said "Lets move back" was on an August day last year. It was a Saturday morning and we'd been in traffic for over an hour to travel 8 miles. The reason we'd travelled those 8 miles was because we were going to a different playpark because our local one had become a drug addicts day out. My husband snapped and went in the opposite direction and we just drove to Northumberland without stopping. The minute we saw the Angel of the North his shoulders visibly relaxed and I could see all his cares lift. He's a Northumbrian boy and he will always be a Northumbrian boy. What surprised me was that I felt relaxed too, like I was returning home for the first time.
We moved the next month and I found things were different. Northumberland had become a home to me. I'm still under-utilised, there still aren't the jobs out there for my skillset...but I figure that what we don't have in financial riches, we have in standard of living. After all, hundreds of Londoners work all their lives in order to achieve their dream of semi-retirement in the country. We've just skipped a step. Life is short and why not fill it full of enjoyment and beauty while you can? Who needs all the finances when there's so much out there to enjoy on your doorstep?
So why a blog about Northumberland?
Well, Northumberland is less represented online than other regions of interest. It seems to be a bit of a forgotten rural gem and I think that's a shame because it's a beautiful region, largely untouched and without the crowds of the Lake District or the expensiveness of Southern England. I have never seen a place with more castles. It surprises those who know me, but I'm quite an outdoors/cultural attraction kind of person. This blog will mainly centre on the excursions we take, the restaurants we visit and hopefully there will be many pretty pictures of the places we visit.
It wont all be pictures and daytrips however. I would like to share my life in Northumberland with people who are interested. There's not even local listings in my area for toddler groups and events, Northumberland is that under represented on the internet. I'd like to change that. I think I have a unique perspective as well, as someone who isn't from the area, submerging myself into local life. I know other bloggers have trodden into this territory but the difference is that I am not in my 40's and upper-middle-class. I'm in my twenties, on a lower income and working class. I'd like to write a blog that I would like to read, something that reflects the real life of the majority, rather than writing about au-pairs and journalist/publisher husbands.
I hope you enjoy this blog as much as I'm sure I'll enjoy writing it and I'm looking forward to us embarking on a journey together to discover the many hidden surprises Northumberland has to offer!