You don’t have to be born in a place to feel it’s home. You don’t even have to live there. I’m an Aberdonian and fiercely proud of my teuchter roots. I still support the Dons for heaven’s sake and that ain’t an easy job. Yet I don’t feel my roots are in the Granite City. It doesn’t hold my heart.
The south of Scotland was unknown territory to me until I came to work at Border TV. The closest I’d ever been was Ayr, where Butlins was my childhood paradise. So when I first started discovering this lovely land – usually with my nose pressed up against the window of a Border TV crewvan – it was like a revelation. How could I possibly have been so unaware of it?
Snag was, I never seemed to have enough time to really get to know places. The camera crew and I would arrive somewhere, drink several cups of coffee, rearrange the furniture in the interviewee’s house to give us the best light and angles, ask our questions, say thanks very much and then depart post-haste to get the story on that evening’s Lookaround. There was precious little time for lollygagging.
When I was asked to write for Dumfries and Galloway Life (or DGB Life as it was originally), I was chuffed to bits. I’ve always loved to write and as a Journalist I’m far happier with features than hard news, so this was the perfect gig. I’m proud to say I’ve had pieces in every single edition of the magazine, including a series looking at the area’s towns and villages which gave me the perfect opportunity to explore and properly get a feel for places like Kippford and Kirkcudbright, Wigtown and Whithorn, instead of just parachuting in for a brief visit.
I’m no fan of cities – on the odd occasion I’ve had to go to London (note the ‘had to’), my sole desire has been to get the hell out again. I’m just so out of my element there and a million miles away from anything resembling a comfort zone. Give me lonely hills, tumbling rivers and beautiful beaches over teeming streets any time.
So – I suspect I hear you ask – if you love the place so much, why are you not living here? Why do you not have your very own hearth and home in Dumfries and Galloway or the Borders? Actually I do – sort of. I lived in Newcastleton for ten years and if ever a place could be described as my spiritual home – it’s Copshaw. It’s in a beautiful area for one thing – there are loads of horses and great places to ride and the people who live there are friendly, welcoming and warm-hearted. Also – my Mum still lives there so I’ve got bed and board any time I fancy. What’s not to love?
Truth is – it was love that took me away from Copshaw and sent me south of the border. Yes Dear Reader, I married a Cumbrian – and his native roots ran deeper than Ground Elder so there was never any hope of him coming over to my side instead. Cumbria’s a grand place too – I have been and still am happy here, even though the aforementioned husband and I have now gone our separate ways.
Fortunately for me, DGWGO didn’t ask to check my visa when it invited me to come on board. And as it proclaims on every page, it’s for ‘people who love Dumfries and Galloway’. That’s me – so here I am. Hope you’ll live up to your wonderful reputation – and make me feel welcome!