When I moved to Skye, I knew that many of you would know it. The legendary Misty Isle holds a special place in the hearts of folks who have lived or visited there. It was a pleasure to share my photos and feelings over the 20 months I spent living on Sleat, in the south of the island, and receive countless emails from others who knew the area too.
I wonder how many know mid-Wales so well?
(I do know that some of you do!)
Growing up in Shrewsbury (just over the border, on the English side), the green, green area surrounding the train line that ran from my hometown to the coast was a formative place. It was in these hills that I first realised, aged 12 or 13, that there were ‘alternative’ ways of being. Met my first hippies, vegetarians, people who were concerned about the environment. My best friend’s dad lived in these hills, he and his partner opened up whole worlds and cosmic perspectives for me to consider. I came out here with friends, riding the train for a day trip to the coast. I spent the millennium here. I discovered the soft, sparkling magic of liberty cap mushrooms here. I fell in love with moss, and secret, tiny valleys, and streams and waterfalls and trees, here. I was handfasted to my first love here.
It’s a place with a lot of very special memories for me.
Funny, then, that it should take so very long for me to arrive.
When I finished university, back in 2004, I moved back in with my parents and would head out to Machynlleth every couple of weeks, seeking a job and a room to rent. Three years in London had well and truly done me in and this was, at that point, the only place I knew where a person could live in the country and still feel connected. Before I found a place, however, a friend moved to Todmorden, West Yorkshire – a similar place in many ways. I visited, loved it, found a job and a room immediately, and moved up three days later. I spent rollercoaster ten years in the Calder Valley. I learned how to love there, and how I wanted to be loved. I learned that I’m a small-town girl, happiest in rural communities where folks know your name.
When I left Todmorden, feeling restless, seeking change, I tested this theory and took myself to two extremes. The huge, diverse and wonderful metropolis of Manchester, then the silence and intense space of the Isle of Skye. Both taught me plenty. Neither felt like home.
And so, fourteen years later, I came full circle. When I realised, last Christmas, that Machynlleth was still here, waiting for me, maybe even calling me home, I felt the most ‘right’ feeling I’d had for a very long time. Em knew and loved the town too – she’d studied ecological design at Mach’s Centre for Alternative Technology years before. And five months later, Em and I visited for a festival, viewed nine properties in one soul-wrenching, hilarious, tearful, mixed-up weekend, and found ourselves a house.
And here we are.
Everything feels so familiar…and yet so different. Everything whispers ‘welcome home’. Everything glistens, moist and green, waiting to be seen.
I can’t wait to share more of this magical place with you.