Twenty years ago today, having packed our belongings into a lorry in Wales and sent it off the day before, I caught the early National Coach service from Swansea and headed north to begin a new life here.It is a very disconcerting thing to leave with a handbag and know you’re not going ‘home’ again. But home is where Noel is.
He was already working at Saint Mary’s, Stannington since February and the hospital allowed us a house in the grounds for the first year – we lived there 18 months. After all the trauma of being apart, finishing work and packing, it seemed to me, a true asylum. I could watch red squirrels scurrying up tall pines from the kitchen window. In fact it was a peaceful place to live. We had to wait a week over Easter for our furniture to arrive so we had a room in the nurse’s block. and I was 37.
Saint Mary’s is all knocked down now. It went the way of all the large asylums. But I remember it with great affection and have written it into stories and poems several times.
In just 3 year’s from now, I will have lived here longer than anywhere else and maybe then I can at last regard myself as being ‘home’. My writing has brought me to a good place and I am happy to be a contributor in New Rising Sun – a book to be launched in September, that will hopefully help some people who lost their homes irrevokably in the Tsunami disaster in Japan.