Well, it happened. I finally did what I had been threatening to do for many months and left La Plagne! I packed my bags, boarded a plane and headed back to the UK in search of a new place to base myself.
My requirements were simple:
- After so many months in the peace of the mountains, I wanted somewhere with a bit of life! I wanted highstreets and bars and cafes and shops and theatres and crowds and life dammit! In short, I wanted a city.
- I required a good train connection to visit family and friends in the UK since I don’t own a car.
- I wanted a nearby airport to fulfil my dream of booking a flight on a whim and jetting off to a European city for the weekend without the necessity of a three-hour train journey and an overnight stay at the airport.
- Rooms. I wanted a flat with rooms. If there’s anything that lockdown living plus working from home has taught me, it’s the importance of having different spaces in your home. Separate places for sleeping/working/watching tv/eating and not one catch-all space in which you do everything – i.e. your bed. So, even though my budget was far more studio appropriate, I was looking for a flat with rooms.
So, with transport links, city life and property prices at the forefront of my mind, I set my sights on Liverpool!
And my journey there went rather more smoothly than I had expected. No delays, no dramas, no one demanding to see my vaccination certificate or proof of my negative Covid status. In fact, the absolute minimum of scrutiny was given to my painstakingly filled out paperwork, despite me offering it all up in a shiny new folder to every official-looking person I saw. Nope, no dramas and in no time at all I found myself in my new city of choice.
I spent a week wandering the historic streets of Liverpool, visiting the galleries and museums, soaking up the sights and the energy and indulging in all the things I’ve been missing whilst I’ve been away, mostly food, to be honest. Followers of my Instagram will know that I immediately gorged myself on all my favourite things: cheese and pickle sandwiches, bubble tea, prawn cocktail crisps, sushi, chai lattes, hot and sour soup, chips and curry sauce, all the good stuff! And I enjoyed myself immensely.
But it was also immediately apparent that the desire for big city life was an overcorrection on my part. A reaction to the extreme quiet and isolation of the last year. Because Liverpool was not just lively, it was chaotic. There were crowds everywhere, so much noise, endless construction, overflowing rubbish, and a really bizarre number of karaoke bars. Everyone I met was lovely but so loud, and they were all dressed up and made up and groomed to high heaven. People were queuing over an hour to get into brunch restaurants and cocktail bars and even longer to get to the till in Primark, and everywhere I looked, there were just people people people.
I quickly remembered that I’ve never actually been a big city person, and I took my scruffily dressed, quietly spoken, queue-and-crowd-hating self back to my hotel to rethink my life plan.
After some soul and google searching, I hit on my next choice; Coventry. A city far more my speed, it has the high street chains and the independent shops, the eclectic restaurants, and plenty of bars (minus the karaoke). It’s got several theatres, a fascinating history and a lively events calendar, but it’s all just on a smaller, far less frantic scale than Liverpool. And, more to the point, it had a cosy little flat with my name on it. A flat that was close to the train station and within hopping distance of Birmingham airport. A flat that didn’t just have separate rooms but had a garden too! A garden! That hope had been well beyond my low-budget dreams!
So here I am. One week into my new chapter, and I’m obnoxiously happy with it all. I’ve been to the theatre and out for dinner. I’ve checked out the library, pinned the local events calendar to my wall and found a writers group to join. I’ve visited the cathedral, been for walks in squirrel-filled parks and admired the trees beautifully dressed for autumn. I’ve furnished my flat with a blend of Poundland and charity shop, and have decided which corner I will use for my office. I’ve even received post in the form of two welcome to my new home cards, and one junk mail from an energy supplier!
So it’s official. I’m back in the UK, and I have to say, it’s nice to be home!
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