Happy New Year – From my Home to Yours

In these covid times, when we haven’t been able to see as much of the people we love as we’d like to, ‘home’ can describe all sorts of different places.

Five years ago my husband and I moved from Brighton to rural north Devon. Now Devon feels like home.

I was born in London. We stayed in rural North Yorkshire for five years before moving to Middlesbrough, the tough, warm-hearted town I loved for 13 years. I left the ‘Boro for art college in Brighton, where I spent an incredibly happy 35 years. They all feel like home in one way or another.

My little brother and his wife live on Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands. Mum’s up in the Yorkshire Dales and dad is in Peebles, Scotland. ‘Home’ is also partly with them. Home is with my husband’s family in Weymouth, Portsmouth, and London, and with branches of my own family in Plymouth, Thirsk, Richmond, Northumberland and Northallerton.

Go further and mum’s family come from York, dad’s from County Durham. Roll back time thousands of years, thanks to genetic testing, and we discover the family’s paternal origins lie with a clan who lived in the Middle East around 50,000 years ago. They travelled widely before migrating back to Africa, where most of our dad’s genetic descendants are found today. My brother and I share just 2% of our paternal DNA with the UK population, 98% with the people of Western Africa. Despite being freckly and red-haired, on a genetic basis we’re more or less half African.

On the maternal side we’re directly related to a clan who lived in Portugal 17,000 years ago. Over the millennia they steadily moved north, first through Spain then France and eventually to Britain. Then they kept going, edging ever-northwards through Norway and Finland to Arctic Russia, where their – and our – genetic descendants are mostly found today. It’s hard not to feel distant but powerful links with these places.

My genetic ancestry suggests an astonishing variety of homes over the past 50,000 years. My roots are in the rural and industrial North East of England. My spiritual home is Brighton, where you’d be forgiven for thinking there was no such thing as racism, intolerance, or a Tory. My heart lies in Devon with my husband and our pets.

Wherever your home is, however you feel about where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re going, here’s wishing you a great 2022 filled with excitement, love, and kindness.

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