There is a saying that goes “Home is where the heart is” and really it is hard for me to argue with that. I am not talking about bricks and mortar here, but more a sense of feeling that there is somewhere you belong, somewhere that holds you.
There are those people that have had a happy childhood, good relations with parents and and who loved the area they grew up in. These people may well feel their true home is the family home. For my part I grew up in Croydon, South London, I consider that I did have a happy childhood and got on well with my parents. But I dont consider Croydon my home. I lived there for 30 years and still don’t think of it as home. It is my home town, the place I grew up an spent a large part of my adult life.
There were many advantages to living in Croydon. Its a very large town, bigger than most cities, and has great transport links. In my teenage years and early adult life, I spent a lot of time going to music gigs in London, not just Wembley Arena, but the Hammersmith Odeon (now the Apollo), Hammersmith Palais, the Astoria (both now demolished), The Town and Country Club, The mean Fiddler, The Electric Ballroom, The Marquee club, The Brixton Academy to name but a few. Living In Croydon, meant I could always get home again, no matter what time the gig finished. There was always a night bus if the tube had stopped running. For the most part I had a good time living in Croydon and do have fond memories of the place.
I continue to work in Croydon so still have links with the town, I would not want to live there again, but I don’t hate the place. I just don’t think of it as “home”. 20 years ago I moved to East Sussex, and that was the moment I felt that I had really come home. I have always liked the sea, the sound of it, the look of it and swimming in it. I have also always liked walking in woodland. The sight of sunbeams shining through trees is one of my favourite things. I have also always liked walking on hills. The lake District is one of my treasured places in the UK.. So here in East Sussex all of those things are together pretty much on my doorstep. I grant you the South Downs are not mountains like you get in Cumbria, Derbyshire, Scotland or Wales, but there are some impressive views to be had walking along the South Downs.
The sea is a few minutes from our house and I am glad to say we don’t take it for granted. We often go swimming in the sea during the day and hold moonlit swims and small firelight circles on the beach regularly throughout the year. There are a few ancient woodlands very near to our house too. Walking the dog is always a pleasure when you can stroll amongst the trees. The South Downs too are close by and It is wonderful to be able to access them easily. A good friend who lives near me calls the downs her South Downs Garden and I understand what she means, East Sussex is my home and the downs make a wonderful garden.
But, it is not just the wonderful scenery and coastal setting which makes me think of East Sussex as home. This is a place that has helped define who I am. My spiritual path and my Druidry were given shape as a result of moving here. nearly 20 years ago I joined Eastbourne Pagan Circle, and as a result I was introduced to people that led me to the Anderida Gordsedd group that meets on the hill beneath the Longmans feet. It is on the South Downs where I have met my Goddess.
Those that know me, know that drumming has become an integral part of my life. It was here in Sussex , at Eastbourne Lammas Festival where that all began. 15 years ago, I was helping out with the Eastbourne Giants as part of the festival and they were short of drummers for the parade. George Norton (founder of the Pentacle Drummers) asked me if I had drummed before. I said no, but he handed me a tatter coat and a drum and said ” no worries, your in the parade anyway” The rest is history. 15 years later I am still very much involved in the Pentacle Drummers.
I can never be entirely sure, but I really don’t think my spiritual path would have developed the same way if I had not moved to Sussex. I certainly would not be involved with the Pentacle Drummers and performing at all manner of events including the totally mad , but brilliant Sussex Bonfires.
My life is on the cusp of another change. I do not know how that will develop or where I will end up living. But I do know that East Sussex is a place that holds me, a place that I love and a place that I will always think of as “home”