We have spent the last couple of days deep in our prior home in the north of Yorkshire. The patch that was ours is so very tiny. We have walked around it fully over these days. We have debated and reminded the hows, whys and whens of all our growing ups days. Today we have been struck by a revelation.
We have debated for 50 years what possessed our parents to make a decision to move 12,000 miles and resettle in Adelaide. In 1965 Yorkshire families were born, lived and died within 30 miles of their north Yorkshire village. What was different about Phil and Ida that let them, like the thousands of others prepared to move, step outside the zone we have wandered these last days, while most stayed here. I think we have something.
We went to our old house. It looks so, so small. The whole area is small. The schools, the shops are all so tiny. The massive walks we took as kids were mere minutes around a street or two.
There was a hill nearby that we used to climb. We found it and climbed a way all across it. This was too big for a brief jaunt like ours but we could look out over our childhood domain.
While looking over this green hill side and on to the industrialism below we were reminded of why we left. Before our eyes a series of great billowing black clouds ejected from the cooling towers and exhaust chimneys. The clouds covered the brilliant blue sky and we called out together - “That’s why we live in Adelaide.”
We wandered the local cemetery. It was a habit of younger days so we repeated it and we discovered another reason - the age difference between the men and the women in the graves.
Headstone after headstone told a story of men dying in their 40s and 50s and women living on for another 30 years. We thought about our family and yes our mother and her sisters all outlived their men by 20 or 30 years. 3 women and 6 husbands with 5 dying from leukaemia. - “That’s why we live in Adelaide.”
But how could they decide to do this trip when most didn’t? Well, our voyage of discovery seems to have given us the answer.
Both parent’s families moved into Teeside. They were not here for all time. As we discovered in Runcorn older parts of our family had introduced the concept of moving into the psyche of the family. In 15 years in Teeside our little family moved 3 times which was unheard of. Phil and Ida seem to have had a gene that allowed them to consider a move which most northerners did not action.
Moving about this place over these days, there is no doubt they made the right decision. It has been fascinating to look over these spaces again and to feel the memories and ghosts flooding back. I have loved it all. But it is a visit. In 2 days I will be 400 miles away but with a sense of how we came to move.
The desire to prove that Thomas the Tank Engine was not quite right for all of England.