Homesick for Hills

It’s six months since I was in the UK and I’m getting hill-withdrawal symptoms. I was telling a friend the other day that even after being here for 26 years, I still suffer from homesickness. There’s often a profound longing to see a mountain and feel that pysical and spiritual lift that one gets from looking at or climbing a hill. Here, in North Holland everything is so flat that you can never get a fresh perspective on things and the sky often seems to be pressing down on you, opressive at times. The Dutch landscape is mainly straight lines and my spirit aches for curves and sloping meadows. I always feel the Black Mountains are calling me home whenever I drive over the Severn Bridge into Wales.

A couple of years ago OH and I stayed in a holiday let, River Cottage in the Monnow Valley. The Monnow River has a special significance for me as my mum grew up alongside it. She lived right on the Welsh/English border, perhaps better known as Offa’s Dyke, on a farm called the Vineyard in the Black Mountains.  Several months before she died of cancer, we went up into the Black Mountains to picnic and visit the farm where she grew up.  That day I saw a wildness in her, echoed in the landscape, that I’d never seen before. So with a contradictory mixture of intense joy and sadness I often return to the mountains that embody the spirit of my mother and represent home. Below are a few photos of The Cat’s Back, (known officially as the Black Hill and made famous by Bruce Chatwin’s novel), Longtown Castle and surrounding area.

How do you feel about mountains, do they lift your spirit or are they merely obstacles that get in the way of a clear view?

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About susancarey

Writer and teacher living in Amsterdam. Trying to be mindful and occasionally succeeding!
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9 Responses to Homesick for Hills

  1. nessafrance says:

    I only had to be in the Camargue for two days to feel homesick for hills! We are lucky in that where we live has glorious rolling countryside – not exactly mountains, but beautiful nonetheless. So I can quite understand your homesickness. For you, it must be a bittersweet feeling to return to the Black Mountains. Lovely photos – how do you get them round like that?

    I enjoyed Bruce Chatwin’s On the Black Hill but felt the ending petered out a bit.

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  2. susancarey says:

    Thanks for commenting, Vanessa. A rolling landscape just does something to you, doesn’t it?
    Re the gallery, click add media option 1st, then it’s create gallery button 2nd, create new gallery 3rd, then in the pull-down gallery menu choose circles. It took me ages to work it out as WordPress changed the interface a few months ago. Hope this helps.

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  3. Sally Robinson says:

    Know exactly how you feel Angela! I still have that homesickness after even longer. Mostly I’ve sort of ‘tamed it’. Just have to get my ‘shot’ regularly. Walked along Offa’s dike not so long ago with my sister-in-law. They live in Montgomery. Loved Bruce Chatwin’s ‘Black Mountain’. Very powerful and unforgettable.

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  4. Even in the South of England, I get homesick for ‘proper’ hills. I love Holland but the lack of hills is a downside.

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  5. pfornari says:

    So looking forward to hills this summer! Even Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh will be a treat!

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  6. Sherri says:

    Ahh Susan I feel your pain! I lived in California for 17 years and was terribly homesick the entire time, which a lot of people didn’t quite understand! In my case, I missed the seasons and the beautiful British countryside and yes, even the rain. People over there thought I was barmy! I still never take these things for granted. Loved your pics, I remember so well what it was like to visit home again and then to miss it all over again. So glad you got your mountain fix and hope it won’t be too long before you do so once more 🙂

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    • susancarey says:

      Thanks, Sherri. I just got a fix of hills last weekend in York! It has done me the world of good and I have another trip to the UK to look forward to later this year.

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  7. Sherri says:

    Sounds wonderful! I love York! Just wanted you to know that I would like to welcome you to my little ‘cyber’ family and so I have nominated you for The WordPress Family Award. Don’t worry if you aren’t able to get to it, but it is just my way of thanking you for keeping in touch and visigting my blog and also to say I do enjoy reading your blog! Here’s the link if you would like to take a look, have a super day :- )
    http://sherrimatthewsblog.com/2013/07/03/back-to-you-the-wordpress-family-award/

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