Sunday, 27 May 2012

The Farm

Today I went back to my birthplace. It was, quite literally, the place where I was born, back in 1965. It's not far from Tenbury Wells, in a fairly isolated place down a long steep hill and with extensive views over towards Clee Hill. It is no longer a working farm as such, that all came to end when my father pulled out of farming in the early 1970's. The large acreage of apple trees was pulled up and the greenhouses full of tomatoes and lettuces were dismantled. It never really became profitable and my father then left the family to pursue an isolated career as a painter and shunning all mod-cons.

The landscape here is beautiful and the photo doesn't do it justice. There are steep hills, old apple and cherry orchards and steep sided wooded gullys full of wild garlic. All on a deep red clay soil that is characteristic of the area.

Although the place still carries a sense of isolation and long lost rural idyl, it has changed. All the old tumbled down cottages that I remember as a child are now more like executive dwellings. An old road we used to drive down over a stream is almost undiscernable beside a newer crossing. I can still find the dam my father built across a stream to provide a source of water for irrigating his crops, though it has all silted up. A row of lombardy poplar trees planted as a windbreak for an apple orchard still stands as an unusual looking hedgerow in the middle of two fields of sheep.

I go back there every few years or so. I wanted to go back there again now because I knew it would look wonderful in the spring, but also because I have been trying to look back at my childhood as an aid to sorting out a few things from a psychological view. I thought it might be an emotional visit, but somehow it wasn't what I was expecting. In a sense I feel I could be 'returning' here for while. My mother is returning to Tenbury Wells to live in a retirement home and so I might be spending a bit more time re-visiting this area when I come up and stay. It feels odd in a way that I remember a landscape here that younger people or those moving into the area will probably not be aware of. I am aware of my age and sense of history and how my father worked and changed the landscape here and his legacy can still be found if you look hard enough.

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