Friday, July 12, 2013

More on life in a small town

At the last census, Saltburn had a population of 5,900. Since then we have swelled the numbers by three, but it's still on the small side of a small town. It's geographically small too. Malibu has a population of around 12,000 but stretches for 27 miles along the coast, and straggles up to the Santa Monica mountains. Saltburn by contrast is a compact little place.

I like this about it. Everything is right on hand. My sister lives ten doors down the street - so close that I get continuous wifi coverage when I walk from her house to mine. My old school friend (and current land lady) lives 3 streets away. My yoga class, personal trainer and doctor are all about a three minute walk from home. Three or four coffee places can be reached within five minutes - or if I want to really stretch my legs, I can get down to the beach and Surf's Up in ten minutes. Sainsbury's, Boots, the butcher and the baker are all less than a five minute walk away.
The whole town would fit neatly into Chelsea, our old neighbourhood in Manhattan
Mind you, it always takes much longer to get to any of those places. That's because we always end up bumping into someone we know, and having a lovely chat. Such is the nature of the small town. I've posted about this before - and it remains a source of fascination to me. Everyone knows everyone, or at least is connected in some way. Or so it seems to me.

For example, the butcher - who we spend a lot of time talking to about meat and other matters - sends his daughter to the same childminder as Lady P goes to. My sister's twins go there too, so they all play together. His wife goes to the same personal trainer as I've been working out with. That personal trainer was recommended to me by my sister's husband's friend. He's an old friend of the guy I was at school with who runs the best place to eat in Saltburn, and a couple of posh food shops too. That guy I was at school with used to train with my trainer too. The lady at Surf's Up who always gives the twins a biscuit is knitting something for Lady P, since she sees us all the time.

I could go on. It's all just quite circular. In a really nice 'How's your sister, I haven't seen her for a while?', 'I hear you're looking for a personal trainer, let me recommend Harry', 'I'm popping to the supermarket, do you need anything?' kind of a way.

After the anonymity of New York, and - to a lesser extent, but still - of London, it's really rather nice. Of course, if you had secrets it would be your worst nightmare. But for us, living here temporarily and with no skeletons in our closet or dark behaviours to hide, it's rather nice. It's a ready made, tightly knitted community and we weaved ourselves right on in there.

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