2015 has been an odd year in our household. And so much has changed in the past few months. It began on top of Cleeve Hill, watching the fireworks sprawling across Cheltenham. Cheltenham, that little town that has in so many ways shaped us, drawn us, entertained us, charmed us and betrayed us. At that time we wondered what the year would have in store for us, whether we’d be standing on that very spot in exactly twelve months time, or whether something different might happen. As 2015 unravelled, the year showed us both kindness and cruelty; it saw friends drawn closer, it brought challenges, not such great health, publications, new work opportunities, travel, and it brought change.
On our usual early summer break in Exmoor, we watched the sun set over the sea, and I genuinely felt the winds changing. Weeks later we had moved town, and so many of my dreams came true when I gained a post at the University of Liverpool.
Leaving Cheltenham was in itself a strange and disorientating thing. That small Cotswold town seems to have its own sense of gravity. People always say, ‘I love Cheltenham, what a lovely town’. And so it is. Not so much for the Georgian architecture, the many coffee shops and festivals (sounding like a travel guide here), although all those things are undoubtedly nice. But for us, our Cheltenham was the most amazing friends we made. The little back streets lined with cream-washed terraces, the seagulls who always seemed to be screeching in the sky, house shows, music, creativity and comrades. But as with any ‘prosperous’ or desirable area in the UK, the town had a cruel side – the sharp and competitive housing and rental market most especially (something I blogged and tweeted about a fair bit!). However many great coffee shops you have, they can’t take the sting out of the tail when you see so many people unable to make their way, or to carve out a small piece of the world in which they live. After publicly complaining about the lack of opportunity and affordable housing, it was something of an irony when we were given eight weeks to leave our home of five years so our landlord could sell it.
So we bid farewell to friends and communities (hard!) and moved north (although, we’re still loyal to our routes, and orbiting the Midlands somewhat!) to follow the job, and to try out pastures new. New little town, new friends being made, new walks and different streets to tread. It’s from here I write. So far it’s been good. But we couldn’t have done it without the support of family and friends. Who we will take with us wherever we go!