|The Tyne Valley|
Hazel lives just down the road from me, belongs to our local writers' group and has just published her second book, which is set in Northumberland. I was amused to see that even as someone not locally born, she notices and probably resents the total lack of knowledge about Northumberland that exists in this country - and probably in the rest of the world. The comments she mentions are ones I've heard frequently over the years. Even the weather forecasters on tv skip over the north of England, or they talk about "the north" and then mention Birmingham or Manchester.
Manchester is somewhat closer to us, but it's still 3 hours driving time, in a car on motorways, to get there. In that amount of time, I can be over the border, beyond Edinburgh, cross the Forth Bridge and drive north to Perth in Scotland. Another three hours will take me to Inverness, and a further hour to Ullapool on the north west coast of Scotland. People down south seem to think we still have nothing but coal mines, slag heaps and steelworks, with maybe the odd shipyard thrown into the mix. I can't deny they existed up until the late fifties and sixties, but they're not there now. Green fields and grazing cattle exist where once the mines flourished. Forget the images you remember from films like 'Get Carter' and tv series such as 'When the boat comes in' or 'Vera' because they simply don't do the place justice.
The Olympics pointed out just how London-centric this country is. Some football matches were played here in Newcastle, and that's it. That's all we saw of the Olympics. When we go south on our annual trip to France, we're always horrified by the traffic volume, which starts to build south of Leeds and is truly horrendous by the time we reach either the M25 or the Southampton-Portsmouth area.So many people everywhere, so many cars rushing in every direction. Coming home, we start to relax once we've left Weatherby behind. I once applied for jobs in Chichester, Portsmouth and Crawley, went for interview and was disappointed when I didn't get the post. Now I thank the good lord that I'm here in the north...