Tracking Back

In south London, was my memory fading, or was I merely living in the past?

In the latest in his series of reflections on ideas of place and pathway, Will Gore visits old haunts that don’t always feel familiar

Saturday 05 October 2019 22:41
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‘As we swept through the New Forest I looked out and saw the woods and heathland that I had so often played in as a child’
‘As we swept through the New Forest I looked out and saw the woods and heathland that I had so often played in as a child’

A week or so ago, I was travelling by train between Bournemouth and London. As we swept through the New Forest I looked out and saw the woods and heathland that I had so often played in as a child, when my grandparents had lived on the fringes of this most ancient (and inappropriately named) of landscapes.

Nana and grandad resided in a village not far from Ringwood, seemingly full of retired people and bungalows. I called it up on Google maps and despite not having been there for nearly thirty years, I recognised immediately the birds-eye road layout. I clicked through to get the street level view and, sure enough, I had alighted on the correct road – Heather Close – just one junction along from my grandparents’ home.

The yellow trim on the bungalow’s garage door and fascia boards had gone, as had a pond and rockery in the back garden. But the little stone birdbath still stood in the gravel driveway and a large rock bearing the name of the house greeted visitors just as it had back in the 1980s, when I would regularly climb it like some sort of miniature mountain.

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