Life has been hectic recently – up to Newcastle, over to Richmond, down to Sheffield then back into London. I enjoy the different landscapes of these parts of England; each has its own unique and lovely energy.
Newcastle is a bit of homeland; my mother, grandmother and great grandmother are all from South Shields (which is the Newcastle area). I enjoy visiting this part of the world even though I often don't understand a word they say. A Geordie accent is something quite amazing to behold; almost like a secret language only knowable to the initiated. I first encountered the Geordie lingo when my grandmother was chatting with a Geordie friend and slipped very easily and quickly into the almost indecipherable language that is from these parts.
Reassuring is how it feels to be in the North of England; familiar, friendly, forthright and honest. These are qualities that have often been attributed to me by my family and not always in a positive and encouraging way. The qualities of northerners can grate on the rest of England and certainly the more subdued Southerners are often quite affronted by their Northern brethren. I, however, enjoy the frankness and the honesty; it sits very well with me.
Today I had a wander around the Kings Road in Chelsea and thoroughly enjoyed this part of London. It isn't an area that I go to frequently but on the advisement of a friend, I thought I would go and partake of the excellent shopping and also enjoy the sunshine and the warmth of the spring day. After my experiences in the north and the work that I enjoyed last week and on the weekend, it was lovely to have an afternoon to meander about and just take in the sights and sounds of London.
My awareness of the North South divide is never more acute than when I have the opportunity to spend some time up north and then immerse myself in London; the homeland of my father, grandfather and great grandfather; a completely different experience of England. London is fast, vibrant, multicultural and anonymous. A person can get seriously lost here and no one would notice. This is also an aspect of me that fits very well in my psyche.
Bringing the divide together is the balance that I seek.
Geographies of England: The North-South Divide, Material and Imagined (Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography)