This town was recently selected in some poll or other as one of the best places to live in the UK:
Apparently a spirited young woman I know, who lives there, upon being informed of this over her breakfast, said (and I quote):
"Christ. Shows how fucking awful the rest of the country must be."
This greatly amused me, because it seems to sum up the essence of being 17 in our times. "Teenagers" (I'm not mad about the label, but still..) often want to get away from where they were born - even if they want to keep in touch with their families, even though they may return, they want to get away.
It's actually a very pleasant town, though it suffers from too much road traffic through the town centre. It's the sort of prosperous place in which the charity shops look like real shops, and their stock is often at least as good as real shops around where I live.
It's an expensive place to live, as far as house prices go. And they do. Upwards, relentlessly. You'd think it would be a nice place in which to be brought up, and I daresay it is - a resolutely comfortable, prosperous, overwhelmingly middle-class, picturesque, reasonably safe sort of place.
And I think that's perhaps the reason for the young woman's strong feelings. She knows the rest of the world isn't like that, and she wants to get out into it. She maybe wants to feel that home will be where she hangs her hat, and see how that goes, at least for a while. Meantime, she's on the secondary school exam treadmill with which our culture is obsessed, and who wouldn't want to get the hell out of that for a while, when they can?
But then again, she's 17, and it was early-ish in the morning. She might, by this evening, be revelling in the delights of her home town.
Somehow, I doubt it.
I bet she'll want to hit the road before she can feel that "lovely to be back here again" stuff, as opposed to the "lovely to see my family again," which one hopes will always be true for her.
I mean, what did I care about peaceful duck ponds in English country towns when I was 17?
Though it looks to me like a nice place for a quiet think, these days, now I've almost reached her age numerals reversed. I might even feed the ducks, though I suspect they'd turn their bills up at anything less than organically-grown locally-baked sourdough wholemeal.