May We Within the Temple of Our Own Hearts Dwell*

At some time in the past our local village, Allendale, was dubbed the centre of England. But that honour has now been claimed by Haltwhistle. It is a fairly ordinary looking place, neat with a couple of places to drink tea, a couple of shops for groceries, a revamped post office. Under the surface however more is going on.

Back in the summer a couple of our monks were invited to set up a publicity stall with photographs and leaflets of the monastery. This was part of a larger event put on to inform the judges of the Calor Village of the Year Award about what’s available in the area.

Only recently did I hear that Allendale won!

Here is what they say: “The Calor Village of the Year competition is a great opportunity for rural communities to celebrate their vibrant and dynamic community spirit. This year we were privileged to visit five villages across England that did this in spades. I was so impressed by the energy, passion and leadership of these rural entrepreneurs – they love their communities. They managed to pack their village halls with literally hundreds of different people, activities, societies and community groups; at times there was hardly enough room for the judges. These villages successfully demonstrated their huge wealth of community spirit and determination to make their communities confident, cohesive and special places to live. The Plunkett Foundation believes in dynamic, vibrant and inspiring rural communities. We need to support the wealth of talent and local leadership that is still thriving deep within our rural villages and towns, as so ably demonstrated by the finalists in this year’s Calor Village of the Year competition.”

Mean while over on Teeside, Middlesborough has a claim all of its own. “the worst place to live in the UK”. At least one reader tells me he is glad the place of his youth has some kind of claim to fame.

And as if this isn’t enough over at Lonely Planet they are talking about the North East as one of their must visit, must-see destinations in England and have dedicated a chapter about us: The book praises North East England, describing it as “the most exciting, beautiful and friendly region in the whole of England,” with the region’s rejuvenated cities, fascinating history as well as the dramatic Northumberland wilderness identified among the region’s biggest draws.

Which all goes to show that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and entirely dependent on who is looking, why, and what at!

*This is a line from a scripture we sing in the evenings. Just a reminder of where to live, and make ones home.

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