Thursday, June 19, 2008

From the Lammermuirs to London

Sometimes living in the Borders feels like living a long way from anywhere. When we first moved north from the Sussex sunbelt people would often ask what life was like in the Lammermuir Hills. Our answer was usually along the lines of "Nineteen fifty seven." It really was like moving back in time. In the old Co-op in Duns it was tricky getting plain yoghurt ten years ago, and sun dried tomatoes were totally out of the question - today all that's changed. While we have moved a lot closer to the end of the last century the Borders still retain much of their magical old world charm - uncrowded roads, life moving at a pace which allows people to stop for a chat with their neighbours and customs and practices that underline the rural idyll.

A few years ago I was talking to someone born in the hills in the 1940s and he told me that when he was a teenager there were still shepherds that spent their summers out on the hills with their flocks. There were many who rarely left the Lammermuirs to go as far as Duns or Haddington; others had only been to Edinburgh once or twice in their lives. For them the idea of me making a day trip to London would have been akin to going for a walk on the moon. We all too readily take for granted the ease by which we can now travel and it’s surprising to me that people still get so annoyed and frustrated when their journey is interrupted or delayed in some small way. To me the complexities of running a sophisticated transport system shifting millions of people a day around the UK are staggering.

I'm just happy to be able to leave home at 6.45 in the morning, have lunch in London, followed by a couple of meetings and get home again by 10.15 at night - all without boarding an aeroplane. Added to which I get the bonus of a great view of the Northumberland coastline and the North Sea. Can you imagine what those shepherds would have made of WiFi from a train? Unimaginable!

1 comment:

jams o donnell said...

I agree, even if communting can be a pain in the backside. Still keeping London's transport going is a huge undertaking