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Sunday, 24 November 2013

Where are you from?

This is a question often asked when meeting somebody for the first time in an effort to get to know more about them.  What is it that the questioner wants to know? And what difference might it make? Does he or she want to know where you were born, where you live now or where your parents and their families are from too?

I have a couple of friends for whom the answer to all those questions would be the same place but it is a question I always find difficult to answer since where I was born and where I live now sandwich a life spent moving around - so what should I answer? 

According to a recent report on Zoopla "The average person born in the UK will move house a total of 8 times during their life, but will not end up too far from where they started" - so one thing is for sure I am not your average person!!

According to my birth certificate I was born in Harmondsworth but it seems that when I was just a couple of weeks old my mother took me by train to "the country" which I can only imagine meant to my grandfather's house in the Forest of Dean. 

However my earliest memory is of a place not far from Liverpool Hightown where my mother had a job as housekeeper to a couple of elderly (well they probably were only in their fifties!) spinsters.  So by the age of 3 I had already moved twice.

Next stop was to stay with my mother's eldest brother and his family in Ipswich where we lived for probably 6 months before going to Reydon near Southwold in Suffolk where mother worked as a housekeeper/cook - this is the house where we lived Reydon Hall.  Talk about the sublime to the ridiculous when you consider what my grandfather's house was like as many of you will know if you've read my childhood memory posts!  But within a year my mother had to have surgery on her spine and was told she'd not be able to work again so as soon as she was out of hospital and able to travel we set off for Grandfather's again!

After living in the Forest of Dean for 4 or 5 years my mother got a job again (the doctors luckily were wrong!) and off we went to Crendle Court not far from Sherborne.  As you can see it was another large house.  The work was hard and my mother found it difficult I think so she found another job actually in Sherborne in a smaller house in the town.

We lived here for the longest time (probably about 14 years) until my mother's employer was forced to move into a retirement home due to ill health.

Bags were again packed and off we went to live near Salisbury in a little bungalow at the bottom of the drive to Downton House - this was the first time we had ever had self contained place of our own and I loved it.  After a while my mother decided that she would prefer to get a "normal" 9 - 5 job and to rent somewhere to live and so it was that we moved into Salisbury itself.  And later on to Surrey (which would be nearer to Mr M who lived in Surrey and to whom I had become engaged whilst at Downton) to another live-in job but where the cottage provided was a bus ride away from the property she worked at.  It was from here that I was married and went to live with Mr M in Guildford. We lived for 10 years in our first house before moving to a slightly larger one where we lived for 20 years.  Quite the settler by now eh?!

Eventually we retired and had the idea of moving to France where we rented a cottage for 6 months before buying our dream house!  However as you already know it didn't turn out to be my dream at all and I was terribly homesick - for England rather than for any particular place - and after a few years trying to settle we made the move back to the UK and eventually ended up here inSomerset.

So I have moved house at least 14 times and that doesn't include various digs whilst at college and a couple of flats shared with friends in my early 20s.  So you can see why I don't really know where I am from!

Speaking with my sister in law recently I mentioned that I probably spent much of my childhood in the Forest of Dean what with the first couple of years which I don't remember and the 4 or 5 years which I do remember in the '50s and that my mother's family all came from there too and she said, "That explains it"  Explains what I wondered and her reply was that people from the Forest of Dean are well known for being a trifle weird! 

I wonder if rather than wondering about where we are from we should be more concerned with where we are going.  What do you think!!


  1. This was a very interesting read, I love reading about your childhood. I lived in 7 or 8 houses in 3 different states in Australia, and I've lived I the UK (near Ipswich!), Beligum and now the U.S. I've now lived in the US longer than anywhere and have managed to live in 4 different states, however I have lived in Maryland the longest out of any place, but I will always say I am from Perth, WA. I do wonder if someday I will start saying I'm from the US? Of course on the rare occasion I do go home (Perth) I always say i am from Maryland! Wishing you a lovely week. Take care, Louise

  2. yes I thought that was interesting too. My dad's family came from a village by the same name. My Great grandfather moved to London for work, which is where my Grandad he met my Nan, who with her sister had come up from Wales, to work "in service". I have had almost 20 homes before we settled here in Glastonbury.

  3. Goodness Jane you have moved about! I'm afraid I really haven't moved much at all. I got married from the house I was born in and moved to my marital home which was 4 miles away and where I have lived ever since!
    V xxx

  4. Ha ha, you do tell a good yarn and you're so right it should be "where are you going"!! I've lived in a total of 13 houses so that means I've moved house every "four and a bit" years and I'm getting itchy feet now so goodness knows what the final figure will be!! x

  5. Golly, I think I can beat your record for moving. I'll have to think about it and let you know...


  6. Really interesting, Jane. I love to hear where people are 'from' as I pick up on accents and they often don't tie in with where the speaker now lives. As a Naval family we moved about a bit with our boys, but my childhood was pretty static once MY dad had brought us back from a Naval draft to Singapore when I was a baby. We've now been in the cottage here in Norfolk - a long way from my birthplace in Liverpool! - for 23 years now, the longest I have ever lived in any place. But I think you have the edge with the fab houses you have lived in!

  7. You have lived in some lovely places, but I think your photographs of your current walks beat everything.

  8. What a fun thing to ponder... for me: 2 countries, 4 states in the US, 16 homes... and counting. Have a great week.

  9. ...and you get on well with this sister-in-law do you ???
    Ha! Family !!
    Interesting to hear of your travels and it has set me thinking I must write down all the places I have lived but it won't be nearly as many as you!

  10. I know all about moving. My family moved 10 times before I married and Tim and I have moved 21 times. Seven years is the longest we've stayed anywhere. I hope we don't move again for a very long time.

    Your conclusion is very apt - let's be more concerned about the future than the past.

  11. This one struck a nerve with me. I was brought up in Worcestershire, but went away to university and then lived in Yorkshire and Bedfordshire with successive jobs - but I have never felt at home since leaving Worcestershire and long to go back west - ideally somewhere in the Welsh Marches - at the moment that's unlikely as the Other Half would need to change jobs, but I have high hopes for our retirement.

  12. A fascinating post. I sometimes think that people who've moved a lot are braver than people like me who haven't moved much at all. You have certainly had some adventures.

  13. Lovely post.
    I was bought up in Essex, but feel at home more where I live now in Somerset. I am a townie, but a country girl at heart.
    Julie xxxxxxx

  14. Wow! You do get around Jane! I was born in London and lived in 5 different homes. I dread to think where my future home lies. x

  15. Another lovely read, thank you so much - I love reading about your life.

  16. Well by all accounts I am pretty average then! You on the other hand are certainly not and what a fascinating story. You have lived in some beautiful places and hopefully have lots more lovely memories.

  17. Counting various live-in jobs, I've lived in 17 different places starting with an early childhood in Bristol. This is the seventh house we've owned in nearly 40 years of marriage and I've a feeling it won't be the last! We've lived in the inner-city and the depths of the country. One definitely feels more at home in some places than others.

  18. I'm another rolling stone ... 14 homes and counting, but we've been here for 18 years now, so that's actually 13 homes in my first 34 years. And I never know where to say where I'm from either.

    Great post, I loved reading the replies :) And yes, where we are going is probably at least as important. Unless we are staying right where we are ;)

  19. Jane, look at all the lovely homes you've lived in! You certainly have a story. I like your last thought too. Think about where we're going! I've just added up my moves and it's 12, more than I realized. I have noticed that on the average, I get itchy feet about every 7 years and want to change locations. This last move, even before we had all the boxes unpacked, we were wanting to move. Looks like we're staying put though, at least for awhile (3+ years now).


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