Posted in Travel

The Secret World of Hawkesbury Upton

English: South of west from Bath Lane, nr Hawk...
(Photo: Wikipedia)

As I was running along the “Yellow Brick Road” in the first ever Hawkesbury 5K last month, the lady next to me gasped with surprise.

“But it’s lovely up here!” she said, as wistful as Alice peering through the tiny door into Wonderland’s gardens.

“You should see it on a sunny day,” I told her proudly, though not expecting one any time soon. “Then you would see both Severn Bridges.”

When she looked as pleased as if I’d given her the password to a secret society, I realised that many people living nearby never discover our fabulous views, unless they are (dog)walkers or runners. They might recognise the village name from a roadsign, but if they’ve never taken that road, they have no idea what it’s like.

English: Automobile Association Village sign T...
Photo: Wikipedia

If I hadn’t got lost 21 years ago, this could have applied to me. While househunting between Bristol and Chipping Sodbury, we took the wrong turning for the M4. As we headed north on the A46, we spotted a signpost to the left indicating “Hawkesbury Upton”. We’d never heard of it.

“That’s a pretty name,” I remarked. “That would look good on a change of address card.”

We turned left. We had no estate agents’ fliers for the village (there was no online searching in those days), but we thought we might spot some “For Sale” signs. And we did: outside a small stone cottage on France Lane.

“That would do us,” said my husband. “Let’s go and take a look.”

We did, and we bought it, and the rest is history. And that is the story of how – neither a runner nor a walker in those days – I discovered the secret world of Hawkesbury Upton. The road sign is right – “Hawkesbury Upton: You’ll never leave.” But that’s fine by me.

Village sign at Hawkesbury Upton

This article was originally written for the Hawkesbury Parish News, July 2012.

If you enjoyed this post – or if indeed you like road signs – you might like this: Rage Against the Road Signs

Posted in Personal life

I’ll Never Leave…

You'll never leave
Image by Libby via Flickr

Spring may be a traditional time to put your house on the market, but suddenly it’s getting out of hand.  “For Sale” signs are popping up all over the village.  By the time you’re reading this, even the house next door to me will have fallen under the auctioneer’s hammer for the first time in two generations.

Is it time to take down the famous boundary sign at the Monument end of the village that says “Hawkesbury Upton – You’ll Never Leave”? (I’m never sure whether this is a threat or a promise.)  Or is it all a grand game of musical chairs?  Maybe the sellers are just changing places within the village.  In the last few years, three families in my street have moved only a few doors down.

I for one intend never to move house again – and not just because my daughter’s got dibs on the house when I die.  (Even the kindest children can be chillingly matter-of-fact about death.  She asked Grandma the other day to leave her a particular handtowel in her will.) What really puts me off moving is the thought of having to pack.  I’d need to wade through so much paper to decide what to keep and what to chuck – boxes of letters from family and friends, piles of magazines from my journalist years, brochures and newsletters that I wrote in my days as a PR, not to mention the odd half-novel tucked away here and there.  Oh well, at least Laura will have plenty of material to light the woodburner with when I’m gone……

(This post originally appeared in the Hawkesbury Parish News, June 2011)