I have just returned to London after having visited various Family friends and cousins over the past couple of days. Family friends can be a very interesting thing because even if their not necessarily your particular friends you still need to treat them as such. That was certainly the case with the first people we went to say with. The parents are friends of my Mum and no one I know well sees the world the same way the husband does. His ideas are so far off the mark that he has always struggled to make any of his plentiful ideas get off the ground. That said they are very friendly and the wife, Jessica is much more straight forward, down to earth and practical. They have recently moved to a really beautiful house just West of Dingwall near Inverness.
The next stop was a visit to the Cousins and Aunt in Edinburgh. Extended family are really important and My Edinburgh cousins are some of my closest friends. The overnight stay was very relaxing on one level as I could say what I felt and speak the truth with everyone It was great to see my aunt so happy and her lovely house being so well used by everyone. The walk on Tyningham beach in the rain was very bracing but I had a good time finding out how everyone was after my time away in Madagascar.
I am currently sitting in the living room of a small cottage in a tucked away corner of the west highlands. This cottage happens to be one of my favourite places in the world. The cottage is not that amazing with three bedrooms a large living room and a good sized kitchen. It doesn’t look much when I describe it like this but it in a very special location, It is on the north shore of Loch Carron and has two almost private beaches one facing west and the other facing south. The view out west is of the Isle of Skye and the Cuillin Ridge, which, on a good day is about the most amazing view in the UK.
There are a couple of reasons that this places is so important to me. I have been coming here for all of my life. it started when I was 1 and there has not been too many years that I have not been here. I have a lot of really good memories of being here as well as a few less good ones. I also know the place. A lot of the experiences that formed my personality at a young age were done from here and I have had a lot of my most deep and those experiences have continued into adulthood. I learned a good amount about how to deal with adversity here having a great time in the process. It is also the mental place that I go to mentally when I need to put myself somewhere quiet and relaxed. This can happen when I need to think or when I just want a quiet moment of relaxation in a stressful situation. I find I can think more clearly here than almost anywhere else it and gives me the space to think and recharge those mental batteries.
Why do we have places that we cherish. Why are places like home and where they go on holiday so important to people and why do we need there to be a sense of place. I believe that there are several reasons for this which start with memories. Memories are very often associated with a location and we build up a set of memories around a particular part of the world such as home or a holiday house that you go to for a number or years. We hold those memories very close to our hearts and having good ones increases your longing for the location where they occurred. Memories also give us a sense of place when we are in the location and If a place doesn’t change too much over time we tend to feel at home in that place. This is a great example of a place that doeset change very much over a long period. There have been small incremental changes over the years which have added to the memories than detract from them.
Another feature of humans strong sense of place is our intrinsic instinct for shelter. The fact that we need to live somewhere means we need to make a secure environment for us and those around us to call home. The idea of home is so integral to society yet we mostly don’t even think of it. I have just been in Southwest Madagascar and the contrast between the poor communities on that coastline, such as Tempolove, and a Village in the UK is just incredible. Yet, at the end of the day. the people in both cases have the same needs to feel that they can call somewhere home. This need means that we create a sense of place and community around where we live.