This is a post inspired by Rob Ousbey, whose idea for a ‘life in Bing Maps pictures‘ appealed to me enough that I decided to replicate it with some important places in my own life to date. I have to say, I normally use Google Maps, so this was an interesting exercise in using the competition! This isn’t a fully comprehensive history, as I’m leaving out the last places we moved as my parents still live in that town, and I’m not including my grandparents’ houses, where I also spent a lot of time growing up. I’m also not including where I currently live, for obvious security reasons! Anyway, without further ado…
Born – Hammersmith, London
Yes – this country girl was originally a Londoner, albeit for just for the first three months of my life. I was born in Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, seen here from above. My mum chose this hospital on the advice of her doctor, who advised her that this was where she should go “if she wanted to be posh”. Years later, managing the Oxford University Student Chorus, I was to discover that both my fellow choir committee members were born in the same hospital – small world!
Earliest childhood memories – Clitheroe, Lancashire
Hard to believe it considering I’m now very much what my Newcastle Grandad calls a ‘Southern Softie’ (i.e. I’m not very good with the cold), but the early years of my life unfolded in the Lancashire town of Clitheroe. My earliest childhood memories are of our house by the river, including my first pumpkin carving session and my first taste of tea. I’ve never had tea since, and ironically I was also very scared of helicopters when I was little.
Happiest childhood years – Frome, Somerset
I absolutely loved our house in Frome. It looked right across the valley to Westbury White Horse, and at Christmas time we could see the charity Father Christmas sleigh doing the rounds of the town and hear the carols drifting across the valley on the wind. Absolutely magical memories and the happiest years of my life.
Where I spent all my spare time growing up – Brookover Farm
We were fortunate enough to grow up surrounded by horses, and I recall spending virtually all our spare time at Brookover Farm, our local riding school, which was where we kept our cheeky devil of a pony Oliver. Looking back, it was very idyllic – roaming the fields with Oliver, helping out at the riding school and pretending we were in the Famous Five. I fell off horses more times than I can remember and thinking about it, I suppose it taught me to pick myself up immediately after a set-back and just carry on.
The University years – St John’s College, Oxford
I was ecstatic to be offered a place at St John’s College, Oxford, and it really became home during my three years there. St John’s really looks after its students, and being there opened up a lot of opportunities that I would never otherwise have had. It’s the richest college and was extremely generous to all its students with travel and book grants, for which I am eternally grateful.
A month on a dig - Lefkandi, Greece
As part of my Classical Archaeology and Ancient History degree I was required to do a minimum of two weeks of fieldwork. Having previously been to Italy, I was keen to go somewhere new, so my tutor recommended I go to Lefkandi – mainly, I think, because he wanted the inside gossip on what the latest findings were without having to await publication. But it was also Oxford University led, and I joined two others from my course on a swelteringly hot July after our first year exams. The dig was a famous site on the island of Evvia – known in ancient times as Euboea – and it was right by the sea. I spent a happy if somewhat exhausting month out there, and we also spent a long weekend in Athens before our return home.
Where I learned to fly – Bicester Airfield
During my second year I took up gliding at very preferential student rates. It’s ignited what I don’t doubt will be a life-long enthusiasm. Bicester Airfield is a former RAF base and is the largest grass airfield in Europe, I believe. Sadly Bing has used two different photographs for this part of its map! The number 1 marks the spot where I would wait in the cold and dark for the dreaded X5 bus home to Oxford after a day’s flying.
Falling in love with Rome – The British School at Rome
During my second ‘long vac’ (summer holidays, to those not familiar with Oxford University jargon), I spent two fabulous weeks on a summer school in Rome, staying at the extremely Oxford-College-like British School at Rome. Our days were filled with exploring Roman ruins, our evenings with delicious meals in the courtyard and fascinating lectures from our supremely charismatic lecturer. It was perfect. I fell in love with Rome wholeheartedly, and have returned many times since.
Where I go for my holidays – Rome (again)
The love affair continues – I go to Rome at least once a year. It’s addictive, and I throw my coin in the Trevi Fountain every single visit to ensure my return. It hasn’t failed me yet.