Our Travel blog
We left Cheltenham and arrived in Colchester in time to park up and walk into town to take care of some business. Its peculiar that for all its familiarity I felt no sense of 'coming home.' I first came to Colchester as a shy and awkward student nurse, squeezed into a room in the nurses home in Hollymead Close. I spent three years there training, more in town working as a qualified nurse, took my driving test there, was a school governor at a local primary school, worked in social housing in the town centre, brought my first house, got married, raised a family, got divorced, attended many functions, events and concerts, arranged gigs, used our living room as a concert venue, made many lasting friends and generally worked, slept and played in the town for 30 odd years. Alison moved in for the last two and from that point life took a different direction. Although we're very fortunate to have lived there, returning has confirmed that the time was right to move on. What we value from our time in the town we still have; the friendships, the family and the memories.
Today, 21 June, also marked significant life events for us. Firstly, two years previously, outside the Sacre Cour in Paris, Alison rashly agreed to be my wife. To celebrate we were seeing Adrian Nation play at the Mercury theatre. Adrian played at one of our house gigs in Queensland Drive in Colchester, played at our wedding and has generally brightened our lives with his music, as well as being a charming and erudite bloke who makes a mean cheesecake. We were attending with friends who rather foolishly agreed that we could park Mavis on their drive and then went the extra mile and invited us to stay in a proper bed, treated us to a delicious home made curry and generally spoilt us. We had a great time. I was going to review Adrian's gig here but one of our companions for the evening did a far better job than I could, so do please read it here. jukeboxfolkreview.blogspot.com
On Wednesday we headed for London to mark the second key life event. Matt's 21st birthday was on 21st June. We headed into London and enjoyed a fine meal with him before wrecking his flat by trying out his new drone with varying degrees of success. Alison soon got the hang of it but my attempts ranged from useless to very useless. I've never been the most coordinated of people and this rather underlined it. I played soccer for a youth club many many years ago. Looking back now I suspect it was to make up the numbers. Somehow football combined both my inherent lack of coordination and my inability to do more than one thing at a time. On one notable occasion I made a fabulous run from my own 18yd box, effortlessly swerving passed startled opposition players and, finding myself yards from their goal, I raised my right foot to shoot, only then realising that the ball wasn't there. In fact I'd left it just outside the 18yd box and it had since enjoyed life in the company of the opposition and was now nestled safely in the net at the back of our goal.
After a while I progressed from being awful at football to simply adequate, generally the level that guaranteed a starting place in Saxmundham Youth Club B team. While my feet could generally be relied upon to work together or at least chop down a forward (this being in the days when anything short of a firearm was considered okay for a defender to deploy) I never got the hang of heading the ball. In the unlikely event that my head made contact with the ball I'd stumble about in a state of mild concussion admiring the pretty lights. A football that bounced off my team mates heads like a helium balloon would strike me like a bowling ball fired from a cannon. Some primal survival instinct forced my eyes to close at the crucial moment so the ball could strike my back, an arm or a startled referee. Our goal keeper got so used to my ineptitude in the air that when we conceded a corner he'd tackle me first incase the ball should strike me and divert passed him into our goal.
Back in Matt's flat I tried getting the drone to hover at eye level, and thus sent it under his sofa from where it reappeared in a spray of dust and loose change to ricochet off the wall and a plant, coming to rest in Alison's hair. Twenty minutes later, having solemnly sworn never to touch it again we extracted the last rota blade from Alison's head and settled instead for birthday cake and coffee; before we left Matt to pick up broken crockery, wash bits of cactus off the walls and clean chocolate cake up from where I'd been sitting and returned to the warm bosom of friendly drone free hospitality in Colchester.
We awoke on Thursday to rain, which thankfully didn't last long, and headed to pick up some post from our old house. The new owners are in the middle of extensive alterations but couldn't have been more hospitable. It was odd and strangely reassuring to find the house so altered. At once the same and different. It confirmed to us that we've left Colchester for good, but that we'd parted on good terms.
Our journey today took us to Cambridge, a chance to catch up with Alison's parents and son and also to vote in the referendum to decide once and for all whether we muck up the country ourselves or do so with assistance of the EU. Alison's folks were as hospitable as ever, we enjoyed a sumptuous meal with Dom in attendance too and settled for the evening in the warm glow of family. Retiring to Mavis, with the rain drumming out a tattoo on the roof, we fell into a fitful, restless sleep.
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