Friday, July 18, 2008

Tracing back my childhood, via Google Maps – Part 1: Somerset, Ballantrae

Google Maps (and thus Google Earth as well) now have pretty good high-resolution imagery of the United Kingdom, good enough now that I can pretty much trace back my geographic history, so that's what I'm about to do.

I was born in Hampstead, a district of London, but I'm not sure which hospital. The Royal Free Hospital wasn't open in Hampstead at that point, so I'm not sure. Perhaps I was born elsewhere but my parents lived there, or perhaps it was in a location since closed.

Pretty early on – vague memory from my parents says at about six months of age – we moved to Montacute in Somerset, where my dad took a job at the National Trust's Montacute House. I'm not absolutely sure of the house we lived in, but this one appears closest to my memories.

At five years old, I think, we moved to Scotland, taking the night sleeper from Euston up the West Coast Main Line. Ever curious, I pulled the communications cord, fortunately when stationary. I remember the Guard coming to our compartment while I frantically hid beneath the blankets.

My father had taken a job as Head Gardener at Glenapp Castle, near Ballantrae, which was then the family seat of the Earl of Inchcape; it's now been sold and is a luxury hotel, but this was after my time there. We first lived at a house on the estate, Boartreehall House (I think I have the spelling of that correct, but we'll see) and later in a more modern bungalow, 1 Smyrton Hill, just outside the estate. I went to school at Ballantrae Primary School.

No comments: