When we went back to Staffordshire in late December (oh what a night), it felt, as we drove from Ashbourne, along the A52 to Leek, that we’d arrived at home.
We’d not been there since we relocated north in 2002 and, instead of that general feeling of disappointment one can feel, when you return, we felt delight and elation.
Waterhouses, Cheddleton, Leek felt like a homecoming.
Leek has just been feted as one of the best places to live in Britain and we could see why two months ago.
My hometown is Doncaster, my wife’s is Leigh in Lancashire, but in neither Lancashire nor Yorkshire have I felt the same sense of home, as in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
They weren’t particularly great times career-wise, and we had a challenging first year of marriage, followed by 17 challenging ones since, but something about dropping into Leek, driving up to the Roaches and Buxton, felt right.
Norfolk has never done that for either of us.
It’s never felt like home since we moved here in 2008 and I’m sure it never will.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s lots to love about Norfolk: the beaches, the climate, Norwich – but there’s things about the county that will never ever make me consider it as home.
I think it’s the end of the earth feel that does it.
Where we live, Bradwell, Great Yarmouth, Amsterdam is closer than London and it feels out on a limb, geographically, culturally and educationally.
Sir Michael Wilshaw even said 4 years ago that education in Norfolk is dire. I don’t think he was wrong.
But what makes a home a home?
I’ve decided – it’s people.
When we headed back to Staffordshire, the friendliness and warmth we felt from strangers enamoured us; same when we head back to Manchester – random people breaking into conversation.
Norfolk isn’t like that.
It’s why Norfolk is the place we live and work, but this county will never be our home.