Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Arriving at the future

My shadow and Ali's on the sands of Skegness
The first of January is a good day to begin a new blog about a new home in a new place.  On November 22 we officially moved, but actually went into limbo in a lovely holiday cottage in Tealby.  On December 5 we moved into our new house in Market Rasen, but it was rather surreal:  I had bought most of the contents along with the house, and my possessions weren't delivered until December 18... and so I began with the feeling that I was squatting in someone else's holiday home.  It was decidedly odd.

Also odd was moving into not just the home, or the furniture belonging to someone else, but the detritus of their lives too... although there had been weeks between acceptance of our offer and the actual move, there were still boxes and boxes of stuff that nobody could have wanted - boxes of cardboard, boxes of magazines, boxes of all sorts of stuff.

John is moving to his own house in a few weeks, but is living with me in the meantime.  He has made so many trips to the local tip that the workers think he is one of them.  They have been suspicious of the vast amount of boxes of boxes he has had to dispose of, but accepted that these were in a domestic dwelling (as indeed they were).  They're pretty sharp at the tip in New Year's Green Lane, in Hillingdon, but the Market Rasen tip is very strict.  They want to make sure you put things in the right place, and will open up bags and boxes to ensure that's the case.

The last time I went to the tip, before Christmas, I admired the extensive Christmas decorations.  John said that when he had done the same the men at the tip had exclaimed that this was nothing - their display had been much more impressive before the storm... but the wind had played havoc with the decorations.

With a short foray home for Christmas, we have been unpacking boxes for ages, and are still neck deep in them in the sitting room.  I need some bookcases, but in the meantime plan to store the many boxes of books.

I have yet to change anything dignificant about the house, we've moved furniture and added beds, but have basically left everything as it is for the moment.  We're just getting to grips with the changes that the move brings.

The first shock for me, was the fact that nearly everything closes at 3.30pm, every day.  Early closing is still a thing in Lincolnshire, when shops close at lunchtime, but the shops close early every day by Southern standards.  People still go out and do their shopping in the morning, stopping to chat in little clusters up and down the high street, like escapees from Mapp and Lucia.  They have marketing baskets.  They know and talk to each other. It's weird to someone like me, used to shopping anonymously in Uxbridge, only meeting someone I know once in a blue moon.

There are markets in Market Rasen, but very small, just three or four stalls, one of which is invariably a greengrocer and another of which is usually a florist.  There are bigger markets elsewhere, and I have a list of them, as the market day varies from place to place, as does the early closing day.

The second surprise was that so many of the houses still have open fires.  Coming from a smokeless zone in London, it is a shock to see that people still have coal fires and that the supermarkets sell bags of coal and firelighters and kindling.  Walk down the street on a winter's evening and you will see a curl of smoke from many chimneys, including our own now that we have had the courage to light the fire.

It must be forty years since I lit a proper fire, and so I had forgotten much of the lore I learned from my mother.  I still remember making paper spills with her and laying the fire though - so interfered with Ali's way of setting it up, learned from YouTube.  We got a good fire going, and I began to remember things about my childhood - being warm in front and cold behind, watching the flames dance and being lost in thought, the mess and ashes when it was all over.

I searched far and wide for a place to live, and had no paticular reason to move to Market Rasen except that it fitted my criteria of having good transport links (in theory) and having all the facilities required within walking distance.  It meets those admirably, with doctor and dentist five minutes down the road, big supermarket and station around the corner, and banks, post offices and shops five minute's walk away.  I know a lot about my family history and despite information on all lines going back hundreds of years, I don't think I have any ancestors in Lincolnshire. 

However, the third thing that has surprised me is how much I love Lincolnshire and the countryside around it.  I love it fiercely, in a way I never have Middlesex, which is where I have lived most of my life.  I've occasionally felt an affection for London in a similar way, but never with the depth of feeling that I have felt for Lincolnshire.  I love all of it - the flatness of the land between Market Rasen and Lincoln, the soft rolling hills between Market Rasen and Louth, the sands of Skegness, the beauty of Lincoln, the woods around Market Rasen, the town and its quirky buildings, like the massive Methodist church along from our house.

I've been astonished by how much Lincolnshire has to offer that I never knew - and surprised that I got to this point in my life without having explored anything about it.  All I knew before we came here was that Lincolnshire is rather flat and still has a lot of agriculture - but there's so much more to it than that!  It has an interesting history, beautiful places, lovely food, friendly and lovely people, and a lot of unique businesses making and selling things in shops you don't find all over the country.

I decided to start a new blog... I'll carry on posting to my other blogs, but when I want to write something about Lincolnshire or related to our new life here, this is where I will blog it.

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