For much of my childhood I had two homes, one in London and one in Wales. You could say I grew up on the train travelling between Paddington and Cardiff Central and back again. I loved it. There was always so much bustle and excitement. Train journeys were adventures. I found they also provided thinking time and I used to spend the journeys writing poems and drawing pictures. Perhaps that’s why I love public transport and have never learned to drive. The top deck of a London bus feels as though you have a view of the world.
I lived in Muswell Hill, London, for years in an attic flat at the top of an old house. It had an expansive view of treetops and chimney pots and the majestic Alexandra Palace. A close friend used to call my flat, ‘Mary’s little eyrie’ and I came to realise that a panoramic view is great for your well-being. I would definitely recommend an attic flat if you’re not too young or too old and can manage the stairs.
In Wales I lived in the countryside in the Vale of Glamorgan. My great aunt and uncle, who looked after me, were like indulgent grandparents. We kept chickens and had pets and there were animals on the nearby farm. As an only child I thought of animals as my brothers and sisters, and I still have a great love of them. I also lived not far from the sea. That was special. Even though I know it rains in Wales an awful lot, I don’t remember the rain at all. My memories are of a big, bright sun and that wonderful warm feeling of heat and contentment at the end of a day spent messing about in rock pools.
Now I live in beautiful Brighton. I visit the sea everyday if I can, so there you are – I’ve come full circle.