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Above is the picture I drew for my parents and my older brother as a Christmas present -a map of my parents house and our childhood home, on a blustery isolated hilltop 6 miles off the Mid-Wales coast.
In fact, it’s so blustery and isolated that a renewable energy company decided it’d be a good idea to harness all that bluster and isolation and put a windfarm up there. This is only a small part of the farm, and there are a few turbines on our land, but the picture is a stylised version, with a few of the places we used to play as kids (including the huge trawler net strung up between the trees in the pine forest like a giant trampoline. Which was accessed by a zip-line. My dad’s idea.)
I managed to get it printed nicely (if anyone’s interested www.agnieszkamiles.co.uk are very reasonable) and it looked lovely in a plain black frame, and went straight on the kitchen wall on Christmas morning. But not before it made my dad cry. So, succesful homemade Christmas gift, I’d say!
I really wanted to draw this for my parents – I’ve been so lucky to have the upbringing that I’ve had, in this incredible place. One day I hope that I might be able to bring up my kids there, just as I, my brothers and my cousins, my father and my uncles were. It’s a lovely place, but there’s been hard work – and hard times – to make it, not least because when my Grandparents bought it so long ago there were only two ruined cottages and a cow shed there. There’s been over 40 years of DIY building plumbing and electricals, digging wells, fixing leaking walls and roofs, watching the garden shed get blown across the yard and being snowed-in at least once a year.
But it’s in our blood and bones, this place – my Great-Grandfather was local (when he wasn’t off teaching in Cairo or Istanbul) and his family had roots in the area too. And it’s something less tangible than that too. It’s only in being away from this place that I’ve realised how much a apart of me it is.
It’s funny that – being so intrinsically linked to a couple of dots on a map. And some of it’s because that’s where my family is, but so much more of it is deeper, like it’s seeped into you after all those years – years of running around, falling out of trees and eating bilberries and bog-apples from the hillside, careening down slopes on sledges and bikes, wellies rubbing against bare-legs and clothes covered in pine-sap and sheep poo.
Yeah. That’ll be it.