Heading down to Bath today with Sandy and AJ to visit No. 1 son at university.
Its James' first term, so it will be instructive to see if he's found the library yet...
Travelling down provokes some thought and discussion on the nature of regional identity. This week, Radio 4 launched their new weather map. Henceforward, weather information will be delivered on a regional basis. Wales and Scotland are straightforward, of course, but some of the regional boundaries are a bit trickier - so for us, the North East apparently begins at the South Yorkshire/Derbyshire border.
Its a fraught subject, of course. I remember when I was little thinking the North began at Gloucester - Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle were just a jumble of names.
Bristol is usually classed as being in the south west. No-one would argue, however that south Gloucestershire, however, has very little in common with Cornwall, say. It was these type of complexities that helped bedevil the whole Regional Assembly debate.
These place settings can have an iconic hold over us. I vividly recall being very homesick when I first came up here (to go to university) and looking very wistfully at the road signs marked "To the South". Now I can't wait to get back to Darlo, albeit the signs on the M42 round Birmingham marked "To the North East" always make me smile. Stotties in Solihul anyone?
And then there's accents. For me, the North begins at Yorkshire (just as the North East begins at the Tees). The Nottingham accent, however, always sound distinctly 'Northern' to me.
Which brings me neatly back to James and university. It's a quirk of fate, that at the same age I made the journey 300 miles north from just outside Bath to Durham - and James has made a mirror-image passage in the opposite direction.
It has taken me the best part of 20 years to stop pronouncing 'Bath' with a long 'A'. James, however, naturally pronounces it with a short 'A', and scoffed at me when I said he would soon be saying Bath as if it were spellt 'Baarth'. We shall soon see....
Cllr Nick Wallis
Cabinet Member Sustainable Environment and Climate Change
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