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Berwick, North Northumberland: Food-Travel-Culture-Community

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Home: a place of dust and delights

Delightful Dorset. But…

It’s nice to have a break if only to enjoy that coming-home sensation: the one where your heart beats a wee bit faster and your shoulders relax as familiar scenery unfolds past the train or car window.

Since we moved up North from London we have often felt as if we are permanently on holiday. However, now we’ve been in Berwick for two years, the perspective is changing. When we come home, we also experience that familiar stomach tightening which indicates that you’re about to re-engage with all the commitments that have not evaporated during your carefree absence.

For us, the most immediate reminder that time doesn’t stop while you’re away is our on-going building work which is, well, on-going. Returning from the beaches of Dorset to wade through a house of dust and discover you have no kitchen (including no cooker or fridge) is an immediate reminder that home is not quite how you’d like it – yet!

Likewise, turn your back for a month, and it’s amazing how much happens in Berwick. Portas bids are won, parades pass by, civil disobedience takes place (here’s to all who marched to keep the Maternity Unit open!), tourists come and go, shops and cafés close and open – so many people working so hard to hang on to what we’ve got and to improve it all too. Good on yer, chaps!

Holidays also mean that the catalogue of upcoming events underscored in your diary for action has rushed ever closer without you actually doing any of the things you’re supposed to do. And, like the dust in our house, they will not be swept under the carpet.

There’s the Berwick Food & Beer Festival – this weekend – which is a source of excitement and anxiety for my family. We’re no longer litter pickers as we were that first weekend we arrived in Berwick. We’re involved in organising elements of it: The Husband a film tie-in – hope you caught Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia at The Maltings last night; and don’t miss Eat Drink Man Woman on Wednesday 12th September. As for me, the demonstration kitchen kept me entertained and out of trouble last year and looks set to do the same this. It’s so brilliant to welcome highly talented local chefs and producers cooking locally sourced produce –  the Wheatsheaf at Swinton, the Barn at Beal, the Fenton Centre, plus Denise from Peelham & Jimmy from Windgate farms will all feature. And, helping run the kitchen two brilliant foodies: local photographer Maggie Jary, and Lea Harris, the first person living in Scotland to appear on TV’s Great British Bake Off.

There’s no place like home…

I’ve also been fortunate enough to get involved with another great local community resource: Generate Radio, set up by two incredibly dynamic and creative young men, Kyle Alexander and Oscar MacAndrew. It broadcasts out of Duns to Berwickshire, Berwick, and the world via the internet, but hopefully will get an FM licence soon. The lads are gathering and training a group of volunteers who broadcast an eclectic and dynamic live schedule of music, news and chat shows from breakfast through the night. My show, Border Lines, goes out from noon ‘til 1pm on a Tuesday – it’s a mix of interviews, local news and general blether, plus a rifle through music drawers past, present, left-field and mainstream. It’s a brilliant opportunity to explore many things going on locally – from news and events, to people’s experiences and stories, and much more. I love it and am really grateful for the opportunity to try my hand at something new – but, my goodness, it takes time to prepare!

So, as the holiday wetsuits drip dry in the bright closet of irresponsibility, it is time to re-open the dusty (literally!) wardrobe of homely garments and deal with the day-to-day burden of real life. Pretty damn exciting, actually.

A version of this article appeared in the Berwick Advertiser on 6th September 2012

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