It’s my birthday today. Well, my blog birthday that is. Happy Birthday Blog! Yes indeed, one year old today. I will never forget how it came about. A good friend from London sent me a card through the post containing two bits of upsetting news: firstly, she and her family were moving to Geneva (mixture of loss and envy); secondly, she enclosed a cutting which made her think of me and thought would make me laugh. Actually, it made me cry. It was the article in The Times on Wife in the North, journalist Judith O’Reilly. Partly as a result of that article she has become a household name in blogland and beyond and already had a considerable following. I was gutted. I'd missed the boat again. Someone always gets there first.
Yet I, too, had been wrenched from my southern homelands (having previously been wrenched from the joys of living in Italy) and dragged, almost screaming, certainly crying (I do a lot of crying – good release!), ‘oop north’. My close friends knew how hard it was for me to make the move at that particular time in my life, which was decidedly not a good moment, and had been following my progress. For some time I had planned to write about it. I’d thought about approaching magazines to offer a regular contribution on the subject of moving from south to north and from city to country, with the added insights of time spent abroad. I’d once been a freelance writer, you see, and I felt I finally had something to write about again. If only I could find the time. Unfortunately, my depression (exhaustion led, but with deeper roots) had set in big time and when I was first up here it was all I could do to get up in the morning let alone be proactive and creative. Hence the years had slipped by and I’d done nothing about it. When my friend sent her card and the cutting, I was just coming to the end of my long journey out of the dark tunnel. I was just thinking once more about approaching some magazines or local newspapers. Country Living magazine was my first target, but before that I wanted to flex my writing muscles again – and a blog seemed just the right way to do that. Quietly, unnoticed.
So I sat down that very afternoon and worked out how to set up a blog. It was all rather nerve-racking. I felt I was entering this whole new world: a world which I’d studiously avoided and didn’t really understand. The hardest part was deciding on usernames and the title of the blog. Rather alarming to have it all set in (oxymoronic) cyberstone. But there it was, finally, an endless white page on which to pen my thoughts, feelings, opinions and experiences. No editor. Just me, for better or worse.
And so View from the High Peak was born. Shortly after, a friend pointed out the competition for a columnist, via blogging, in Country Living. I entered enthusiastically into the game – then came to wish I hadn’t as it soon became clear that it was a hopelessly ill-conceived idea with no proper rules and getting more and more out of hand by the minute. The effort that so many put in was not rewarded. I wished I’d stuck to my original plan and just submitted my ideas in the traditional manner of a freelance. But no matter. It pushed me into writing almost daily for a month or so – and the cyber friendships that came out of it, and the excellent writing to be enjoyed, more than made up for it. PurpleCoo is the result of that fiasco – so every cloud has a silver lining and none more so than this. It is so comforting to be among such talented, kind and funny friends in a space that could otherwise seem very lonely.
Unforseen events, unfortunately, overtook me again in the middle of last year, with all that school nonsense that some of you will know about. I'm still trying to make up all the time that was lost - hence I have not been able to do much writing. As I blow out the candle, my wish is that I find more time. I will, because I wrote a diary for many years when I was younger and have always had an unhealthy need to record moments, hold thoughts, stop the clock, observe, look back, reflect, explore emotions, learn and grow. Is that not what life is all about, after all?