I’m one of those people who never had a strong sense of place.
Born in South London (or Surrey if you look at it that way) and brought up in Anglesey (Wales), Wiltshire, Shropshire and Lancashire, I went to uni down south and spent years in Australia and travelling.
So if I was to die a horrible yet newsworthy death or become famous multiple local newspapers would be able to claim me as their own.
Yet where do I belong?
I arrived in Lancashire as a shy, miserable late teen and at first – let me be honest here – I hated the place.
Despite the excitement of my siblings and I of arriving in a place where trousers were called pants and a ginnel was an alleyway, I found the loud northern people terrifying – worse because they thought I was posh.
I blamed Lancashire, initially for my scared, lonely, state.
Moved from a modern comprehensive to a old-fashioned former grammar school, I was thrown by a place where teachers had to be called ‘Sir’ rather than their name. Where there was a ‘girls’ and a ‘boys’ entrance..
But somehow and in large part due to the friendliness of the local people, Lancashire or more specifically South Ribble with a few sojourns into nearby Preston, became my home.
Now, decades later. I found myself on a beautiful stone bridge across the swirling River Ribble on a sun-soaked and gleaming, winter, Lancashire morning, telling TV personality Sarah Beeny and assorted London-based producers and camera people why South Ribble really is the UK’s best place to live.
Don’t believe the pic, it was sunny but it was freezing. I had to be coaxed out of my bobble hat for filming.
But I really mean it. We have everything here.
As a passionate traveller, an ambitious writer, a woman with the skill set to work in a big city, I explained to to the lovely – genuinely interested – Sarah how I really appreciate being close to multiple motorway networks, on the the West Coast mainline to London or Scotland.
We are within an hour of Manchester, of Liverpool, of the Lake District National Park. We can go to the beach – Blackpool, Lytham, Fleetwood and Morecambe are all within an easy reach.
But it’s not just where we can go that’s important, it is where we can come home.
Here we all benefit from the relatively low house prices and a varied housing stock to suit all budgets – you can buy a four bedroom detached house here for the price of a one bedroom flat in London.
Housebuilders can’t build fast enough to accommodate the millions of families who want to take advantage of easy access to Lancashire’s stunning countryside. plentiful towns and shops and excellent variety of schools.
In South Ribble we have fantastic universities within easy, commutable reach, we have large employers on our doorstep and more retail parks and shopping opportunities than we can shake a stick out.
We have innovative small business in walking distance from our homes, award-winning parks, river walks and hills in a hop, skip and hike.
Yes, sometimes we complain and maybe more than most. The weather can be terrible, buses can be late, traffic can be queued, councils can make questionable decisions and worse.
But then here, people talk to each other on the bus, so we have more time to moan.
South Ribble really is the Best Place to Live.
UK’s Best place to live will be screened on (Tues 21 Feb, 2017) at 8pm on Channel 4