The Past Defines Us

It's one of those weeks in which the past seems to becoming back into our gardening lives from the wartime garden to recent discoveries about the Hopwood Garden we want to share with you all later in the week. It's funny how things keep repeating, and in our present world these are sometimes of comfort and now more than ever, moments of great concern about tolerance, acceptance and compassion. No past is perfect, no future will be either but sometimes it benefits us all to look back and to understand how far we have come.

gardening, viewpoint

Pig Row, it's very name a derogatory term for the poor who lived once lived here, as in Pig poor. All they could afford for shoe leather was pig. Whether this is true or not it has passed long ago into the distant memories of those that came before us, we only came across it when we were studying the history of the house and it stuck with us. Many of our traditions around here stay with us, from Whit to Rushcart but we must remember that this now desirable area was once home of many poor people, making ends meet by working in the mills or weaving wool. Farmers struggled on this rough hills and many a family came to an end in the cold winter months, a far cry from the 4x4s that run through the valley today. Times do change but sometimes attitudes don't. There is still a suspicion about this area, in the town they think we're odd, stuck up or all rich - rewind just over a hundred and fifty years, and we're still odd, still suspicious and all poor. We are the no-man's land between city and the moors.

gardening, saddleworth

We are Yorkshire stone houses but on the wrong side of the Pennines, lamented when lost to administrative boundary changes in the 1970s but still declared Yorkshire on each Yorkshire Day. Even Parliament declares we are still Yorkshire but when spoken aloud in pubs, there are suspicions, arguments and cries of, 'You just want to be posh'. Showing a complete lack of understanding of what it is to be in Yorkshire and opening mock wounds for mock anger.


Yet, closer to home, odd photos creep up, cafes in houses, proudly declaring to helicopters that were yet to fly across our valley for the moors and tourists that it sold food. A mere hop, skip and a jump from a brewery across the new road - the new road being only built in the eighteenth century and still viewed with much suspicion as it links us to town and town folk are odd.


Whatever your views on what county is beneath your feet, what defines you is more complicated than pinning a flag to something, or the language you speak, or the dialect that shifts, or the beliefs you hold. In the end what defines us at Pig Row is the soil, the very thing that gives us all life and allows us to raise a pint to friends gone, friends still here and friends to come. We are defined by the most strangest and basic of things that have nothing to do with flags, countries or boundaries.


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