Dan jumping at Lacock
'Are we going home today,' the boys asked?
'No, we're going to Chippenham.'
They gave me that look which says, 'Duh!'
'All right, we're going home.'
Regulars to this blog will know that I split my time between Pembrokeshire and Wiltshire; the former feels like home, the other is the place I work. My two older boys see it differently; Wales is where we go for weekends and holidays. And this year they want to 'see more of their friends', so instead of spending all summer at the coast we've come back to middle England.
I know this marks a bigger change; that they are growing up and wanting more independence from their parents. I know too that we are lucky; they like being with us, and we seldom have those teenage rows and sulks you hear so much about. But understandably they don't want to spend ALL their time with Mum and Dad. So unless we're going to impose our choices on them, I expect the next few years will see us more 'back here' than 'over there'.
Part of the problem is of my own making: I have such affinity to Wales that I make less effort in Wiltshire. I've lived here for fourteen years and yet I barely know anyone I'd call a close friend (there are a few exceptions who ironically I knew before I came here). When we first moved in we had wonderful neighbours, but they have moved on and today I couldn't tell you the the name of anyone in my street.
And it's not just the people I don't make the effort with. I've written regularly on this blog about my journeys in Wales but never about the places I know near Chippenham; Bath, Lacock, Castle Combe, Malmesbury, the Ridgeway. These places may never feel like home, but I should at least be open to their merits and prepared to share my responses to them.
Driving home today I resolved to be more positive about Wiltshire. It is true that I came to Wiltshire for work, but there is no need to treat it like a transit camp. In a few years, I can move back to Wales (five and counting) but in the meantime I can either sulk like a teenager or get on with life and start enjoying it here. For God's sake, there are thousands of people who'd love to be in my position...
There's the cycle club for a start - one of the best in the country - when was it I last went on a club run? And talking of runs, I've been meaning to join Corsham Running Club. Then there's the get together for old friends in September; perhaps I should invite some people from Chippenahm too. You see Mark, there are lots of options if only I'd apply myself...
This evening I went running near Corsham. My route took me through the lanes to the hamlet of Easton, passing the most perfect cottage, whose garden would grace the cover of Country Living. The farm next door was a delicate balance of decay and elegance, its Cotswold stone mellowed by the last light of the day. I liked the smell of the cows and the cackling of the rooks in the trees; the enormous box bushes at the house by the bend. As I rounded the corner a hot air balloon, resplendent with snowman logos, appeared above the hedgerows.
My return took me through Corsham Court - two miles of open fields with an avenue of sycamores that must have been planted way back; there's a lake which is home to a flock of geese and a huge lime tree that I'm sure must host a colony of hairstreak butterflies.
This isn't a new route. I run it regularly and always enjoy it; I just don't allow myself to say so. Tonight, as I ran the last mile to the car, each stride seemed easier and longer than the last. It was good to be here; I was flying, and I found myself humming the old Lindisfarne number:
Run for home, run as fast, as I can
Oh-oh running man, running for home.
Run for home, run as fast, as I can...