Home for me is Big Deal. It’s some idealistic, spiritual place in my heart that I go to when the going gets tough.  But I think there is physicality involved in the concept of home, too. My older children illustrated that so starkly when they all took the first flight home to London straight after their exams. My youngest child, who spends more years out of her birth country than in it is more ambivalent about ‘home’. She mooted the idea of going to the US on sports scholarship to read Medicine, to the chorus of “Noooooo!” from us all.

So what is this home thingie?

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A few days ago, sitting in the loveliest restaurant ever with my friend Danny eating reasonably priced food, he asked me, “Where’s home?”

Like me, Danny had lived in many countries.

“London, of course,” I replied immediately.  My children grew up in London, where the majority of them still live.  Number 3 and Number 4 live a mile up the road from their childhood home. In fact, over summer, my youngest child was looking at Imperial College which was right opposite our old family home.

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“Oh, I thought you’d say Portsmouth,” another friend Richard commented. Yes, I write a lot about my hometown: the South Downs, New Forest, the three rivers, the grey Solent and Old Portsmouth. Hmmm, I don’t know, I said. Portsmouth or London? I am looking for a small property to buy,  in both cities, though I could only afford one. So I am equally torn, it seems.

Then wise Danny came up with this acid test: “Which place makes your heart beat faster when you arrive after an absence?  Because that is home.”

Oh dear, neither London or Portsmouth, but here.  It is a small flat in a small place called Fontvieille where the sun shines all year round, and where life is always gentle. Left to Italy, right to France. The mountain roads are my solitude. I remember a time when my young children ran in the gardens here. Maybe it’s time to be home again.

Where is your home? Try Danny’s acid test 🙂

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