I went round to see my nana the other day (a phrase that is still quite novel for me, seeing as until very recently my nana lived hundreds of miles away in the grim north) and whilst having a cup of tea with her (visits to nana always involve a cup of tea at some point) I happened to notice a flock of flamingos on the TV, and suddenly I realised something. I recognised the location. This does not happen often, if ever.* You see, I am pretty geographically challenged. I thought Holland was in Scandinavia (I still catch myself thinking this when I’m not paying attention), I thought Switzerland was located at the top of Holland, and I thought Timbuktu was a made up place. My sister is equally challenged, I remember her phoning me incredulously, to ask if I knew that Asia was a continent, and if so, did I know Russia was in it? Embarrassingly enough, our mum is a teacher who, amongst other subjects, specialised in Geography (and French, and Spanish – and yet I didn’t get any of this clever stuff. It seems all I’ve inherited from my family was Auntie Silvia’s way with words and my great grandma’s heavy limbs). Anyway, I recognised the area, and gleefully announced this fact to Nana.
“That’s the Carmargue National Park!” I cried. “It’s got flamingos, and it’s in the South of France, in Provence!”
“Is it?” said Nana. “Lovely birds, flamingos.”
“Yes, Nana,” I told her proudly, just as some horses went cantering past on the screen. “And they are the Carmargue horses, indigenous to the area.”
At this point David Tenant cut in, his voice sounding slightly (to my ears) put out.
“This is the Carmargue National Park,” he said, confirming my assertion.
“I said that!” I told him excitedly. “And those are the Carmargue Horses, although technically at 13 – 14 feet, they’re actually ponies.”
“These are the Carmargue Horses,” David said, testily.
“Technically ponies,” I reminded him.
“Alright, show off,” he muttered (in my head) before changing the subject quickly to something that he might know more than me about.
I know what you’re wondering. How does someone who frequently gets confused about the exact whereabouts of Surrey, accurately identify somewhere on the far coast of France? Aha, because I wrote about it at work last week for a cruise through Provence, and somehow managed to retain the information. Drunk on geographical success, I searched the screen for something else I might recognise, and be able to wow Nana with my knowledge of. The next location flashed up and I racked my brain – was it somewhere else in France? Spain, maybe? No, I couldn’t place it. I sat back in defeat. This one was impossible to pinpoint, and I doubted that even my mum, geographer supreme though she is, would be able to work out where it was.
“It’s Rome,” David Tennant said smugly.
*Except for once, when I was about eleven, watching 2.4 Children, which apparently was filmed in Folkestone town centre. I squealed so loudly once I recognised the grimy high street that my mum thought we were being burgled and came hurtling down the stairs, and was then too annoyed at me for scaring her to listen to my excited noises about Folkestone being on a television program and promptly sent me to bed.