A sense of place – and a sense of loss?

Apr 8, 2014 | Writing

Many writers are inspired by places they’ve visited or lived in, often during their childhood. I was lucky enough to spend my holidays at my grandfather’s house in Somerset when I was very small. It was the brewery manager’s house, Victorian, rambling, impractical, but a place of wonder for a small child.

The malt-house became a playground and the cider-apple orchards were full of mystery.  The gardens and the greenhouse were terrific hiding places for a mischievous four year old, and I never ran out of corners to explore.
The musty smell of the henhouse, the tang of fermenting grain, the rough smell of oil and sawdust in the workhouse across the yard… so evocative of those early years before my grandfather retired and gave the old house up.

I wonder what remembered places inspire other would-be writers? Places overseas, houses long since demolished, a countryside now overlaid by houses and roads?

The old brewery house was pulled down in the 1960s.  These days, there would probably be an outcry and it would have been saved, but fifty years ago, it was redundant, dilapidated, unwanted.   For me, though, it represents even now something idyllic, somewhere I always return to – in my imagination, at least.    And I always carry with me that sense of loss, no longer able to slip inside that magical world.

Is that why we write, to reclaim what was lost?