place

Where are you from?

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2014-05-29 20.11.19x

Where are you from?

I get asked that question a lot these days and I usually have to pause for a moment. Am I from the UK? Manchester? Amsterdam? What about all those other places I have lived in and that have shaped me – St Andrews, Cornwall, Nottingham? It feels wrong to leave them out. I realise that when people ask me, they don’t want my whole life story. When you ask someone where they’re from, you’re asking because you’re trying to get a read on them, because even if you have been separated by thousands of miles your whole lives you will still try to find some connection, however tenuous. Ah yes, my sister’s husband once worked in a town not too far from there. Or, I’ve never been there, but I read an article about it in The Guardian a few years back, sounds like a lovely place! And sometimes, every once in a while, you meet someone from a place you have absolutely nothing on.Read More »Where are you from?

A Sense of Place: trains and train stations

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I recently started a new job in Tilburg (yay!), which means I’ll be spending a lot more time on trains. So, it’s a good job I like train travel. In fact, I like most forms of public transport, even buses and especially trams. I know I’m not supposed to. I know I’m supposed to complain endlessly about how cramped, smelly, dirty, expensive, slow etc. they are. I agree, public transport can be expensive. In fact, in my second year of sixth form, I stopped using Stagecoach buses in protest against the constant price hikes, and walked the hour and fifteen minutes there instead (I like long walks too). Public transport can also be very filthy at times – I’m looking at you, East Midlands train service between Manchester and Nottingham. And slow. I’ll admit even I got bored after eight hours on the train going from Cornwall to Manchester.Read More »A Sense of Place: trains and train stations

From Plymouth to Penryn via Google Maps

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Google map

I wrote this piece for my MA in Writing, Nature and Place. It was originally published in Peninsula Magazine.

The journey from Plymouth to Penryn begins at my kitchen table. I set up my laptop, make myself a cup of tea and type Plymouth into the search bar of Google maps. I’m dropped down into the middle of the Royal Parade. I do a 360° turn, it looks to be a thoroughfare with shops on one side and a church on the other. Google Street View works by showing a yellow line along the road you are on. Arrows pointing backward and forward allow you to select the previous or next image, enabling you to “travel” along the road. I click on the arrow pointing east and set off under a grey and overcast sky. I reach a roundabout and try to navigate my way round it. It’s disorientating and I have to stop and check I haven’t missed my exit. I’m beginning to realise this journey is going to be a long and arduous process.Read More »From Plymouth to Penryn via Google Maps

Nostalgia and new beginnings

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Image by Lee J Haywood

Image by Lee J Haywood

Autumn might be the season for impending hibernation, but it is also about new beginnings. It is the start of a new term at the university and the campus is packed full of students, holding maps and reassuring pieces of paper. My sister also just started university, so I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic for my own university days. It hardly seems believable that seven years have passed since I started at St Andrews. But then it hardly seems believable that I’ve been in Nottingham for a year.Read More »Nostalgia and new beginnings

Lowry and The Sea

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Had I not known I was looking at a Lowry I probably wouldn’t have guessed it was his work. When I think of LS Lowry I think of crowds of match-stick figures and dream-like cityscapes. I certainly don’t think of blank canvases, but that is almost what The Sea is.

The painting is divided about two-fifths of the way down by a horizon line. Below this is a calm sea, its surface rippled by gentle waves and above it, an empty sky. The sea is a pale blue, with hints of yellow and green, becoming darker as it reaches towards an unseen shore. The sky mirrors this with a pale grey turning darker as it gets further from the horizon. That is it, just water and sky and nothing else; no land, no people, no birds, no boats.

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