Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

There's No Place like Home, Even If the Weather Doesn't Really Do It Justice; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

There's No Place like Home, Even If the Weather Doesn't Really Do It Justice; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Keith Hann

LEGEND has it that the mandrake plant screams if it is uprooted.

I know just how it feels.

I descend from a long line of non-travellers. The only complication in researching my family history is an occasional, regrettable tendency for ancestors to sneak across the Scottish border, so that the relevant records end up in Edinburgh instead of London.

My father left the country only once, in 1944, at the absolute insistence of His Majesty the King. My more adventurous mother waited until widowhood and old age to try her one and only day trip to France, from which she returned with the fascinating discovery that "they eat frozen peas, just like us".

As a boy, I was desperate to see the world and had a particular passion for old buildings. My father assured me that there were no finer castles than those of Northumberland, and that I had the greatest cathedral in the world just down the road in Durham.

I thought he was making excuses for his own laziness and lack of experience. Sadly, he died before I realised that he had been bang right all along.

Now I find myself advancing similar arguments about the delights of Northumberland to my own family. After four years of marriage and workaday residence in Cheshire, "home" for me remains my bachelor house in the North East, and I enticed my wife and sons over for the Bank Holiday weekend on the Met Office's promise of stunning weather.

Typically, the strongest sunshine beat down upon the car on the way across. I was reminded that two years ago we spent a whole August fortnight here watching the rain tip down, while a two-year-old agitated to go to the beach and build sandcastles.

True, it was reasonably pleasant, if breezy, on Sunday at the Milfield Festival of Heavy Horse, which failed to live up to my cynical expectations by actually featuring several horses.

Though my tractor-mad elder boy was a mite disappointed when the commentator's magnificent build up to a parade of vintage machines was followed by the sheepish confession that it would not take place after all, as the tractor drivers were in the beer tent. …

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