by Roberta Smithies
Just for Ewe bottled beer
Living in the English Lake District is a privilege. It is chocolate box pretty. On some days dramatic, beautiful, threatening, stunning, breathtaking – depending where you are. Always photogenic. Spoiled many times by tourists who don’t appreciate the mountains and lakes and look only for the maximum amount of alcohol and shops. Litter bins are for other people, the ground is more convenient.
A downside that has to be lived with as the economy relies on tourism. Sadly farming is declining with farmers turning to B & B to supplement their income. The lovely Herdwick sheep are conspicuous by their waning numbers. This is a reality of my wonderous birthplace. I took it all for granted – but no more.
I was forced by circumstances to move to a large nearby industrial town. A ship building, nuclear submarine town. Many other industries abound. Pretty, it is not. Old slag heaps are the places for dog walks now. The shoreline can be dramatic, pleasant and nearly always windy. Trees bend permanently one way. Dustbins are to be found yards from the house being regularly dragged back until enough weight has been accumulated to keep them upright and in place.
One and a half acres of garden with stunning views has been replaced with a row house. It has a tiny back yard unsuitable for my two cats and a dog. It looks unromantically onto the ugly backs of other houses and yards. The front looks towards equally unprepossessing houses, many un-occupied left for a transient workforce who are the mainstay of the ship building. One person left a curtain flapping out of a window two months ago. It’s now in shreds and can’t be removed – legally anyway.
My house is secure and warm. My neighbours are all friendly. There is 24 hour food with many massive supermarkets and local specialized shops, plus fuel, taxis and many late drinking places to suit people on all kinds of shift work. It often reminds me of a Lowry town. It has some nice cafes. People find their own level. One level is the amount of football both played and watched. The noise is incredible all over town. The dog trembles and I avoid the pubs on those nights but mid week I have a good local pub with incredibly cheap meals which I indulge in because it is cheaper than cooking at home. It is an interesting time of discovery. Who knows what will happen next in my life.
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