Friday, 7 March 2014

Frivolous Friday: Life In The Twilight Zone

Almost seven months have passed since I arrived in the UK with my family. To say those months have been tumultuous would be an understatement. True to the experience of all immigrants (many of them my friends and family who transplanted themselves to other parts of the world), my parcel of challenges – some expected, others complete whammies – was waiting for me when I arrived at Newcastle upon Tyne airport.

Yes, we landed in north where the accents are so broad we wondered if the people were actually speaking English. Check out this beauty told to me in a parking lot: ‘gan canny or you’ll dunsh summick.’ Translation: Go carefully or you’ll crash into something. As a generic observation, seven months in and I still struggle with some of the accents. Yes, I’m talking to you, the Brummie I met at the tyre fitment centre in Redditch . . .

Anyway, back to the beginning of my story.

For the first month here, my brother’s cottage in Frosterly in Durham County was our home – hence our arrival at Newcastle. Part of the reason we landed there was that, quite frankly, we didn’t know where else to go. Unlike many immigrants, Andrew and I brought an existing business – an internet-based one that knows no boundaries - to England, so we were not headed for a specific job in a specific town. This was the first challenge. Erin tells with some delight of walking into the lounge to see us throwing darts at the map of England. She’s exaggerating. We were poking it with teaspoons. The biggest splash of hot chocolate landed on Lincolnshire, so that's where we settled.

Did you know that the south-eastern parts of Lincolnshire, known as the Fens, are amongst the flattest places in England, maybe even the world? No? Well, we didn’t either. That was quite a shock after the mountains of Somerset West. But the worse was yet to come.

In our desire for village life, we rented a house in a hamlet (spot the mistake) named Thurlby. Now, let me describe Thurlby to you. If my grandfather were still alive, he would have said that it's the kind of town where they roll up the pavements and roads after six in the evening. He was of Cockney descent, so I’ll admit his humour was a bit dry, but that perfectly sums up life in Thurlby.

So it came as no surprise when Erin and Kate started muttering things like ‘old age home’, ‘morgue’ and ‘our parents have gone mad’ within days of arriving. A month in and we had a full-scale rebellion on our hands. My daughters, who have moved about ten times in nineteen years, were demanding that we pack up and leave. Instantly. London became the mantra, but when the cost of rentals in the Greatest City On Earth blasted that idea out the sky, they took up a new cry: 'please, anywhere but Thurlby'. But tied to a lease and their schooling, moving isn’t that simple. So here we linger, in the twilight zone that is Thurlby.

Still, hope beacons . . . Come June, when the schools close for summer, we’ll be doing the great migration again, this time to Worcestershire - the county that inspired the Shire in Tolkien’s Hobbit. How can that be bad?

Until then, I take pleasure in simple things . . . the lengthening of the days, spring blossoming around me . . . new bird calls . . . crocuses, seen for the first time, daffodils growing wild . . . the anticipation of bluebell . . . like I say, simple things.
The daffodils in St James Park, London

Crocus and snowdrops seen on the walk to the post office. Yes, Thurlby does at least have a post office and a tiny convenience store. We count our blessings . . .

Isn't that colour amazing? Crocus seen at an open garden near Thurlby

Daffies in Green Park, London

Now for those wondering . . . yes, my blog went off the air for a while, but now I’m back, hoping to charm you with short observations on life in England, the occasional book review, and the odd commentary on writing and publishing the perfect novel. I hope you will join me in my journey.

Until later

PS. Kate still thinks Andrew and I are as daft as a pair of brushes for not moving to London.  

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