… I’ve decided to ‘re-purpose’ (in the modern parlance) this blog to reflect our changing circumstances, plus the fact that life does go on in between 2-yearly bouts of Disney. The fact that the title owes something to a certain bearded American anglophile and well-known nimby should not be taken as anything more than a sincere plagiarism. And the fact that I am indeed writing from the very fine small town of Clevedon. By the sea.
We had planned to move for some time before this year. The house in Bristol had been our family home for just on 27 years and was beginning to feel rather large, rather empty and about-to-become a liability if we didn’t spend money on it sometime in the next few years. Apart from that, we had always fancied living by the sea. And lastly, we needed to move out of Bristol itself if we were to maximise the profit from the house sale. Clevedon fitted the bill very nicely.
Ok – it’s on the Severn Estuary and on most days you can see Cardiff Bay from across the water. But it’s still the proper sea-side, complete with a bandstand and a pier – the latter is more of a period piece and has no amusement arcades or dodgems, much to the disgust of our grand-children. That’s it at the far left of the header photgraphs. We had spent many afternoons and evenings walking on Clevedon front and along the two coastal walks which bookend the town, and we very much liked it. It is much quieter than Bristol and has something of a reputation as a retirement ghetto. In actual fact, pensioners make up only 26% of the local population – but I guess this is quite high and does not include people like Liz and I, who don’t count as OAPs just yet. But from our point of view, it is ideal. It’s easy enough to travel into Bristol for work – me on the bus and Liz in the new (second-hand) car which we bought from some of the sale proceeds. And it is cheaper than Bristol. We have managed to cover all of our removal expenses, plus the usual rag-bag of new purchases for the house; plus the car; plus a few basic building alterations; plus spending money for Florida; and we still have some left over. So it’s all worked out swimmingly.
There are of course swings and roundabouts. The car insurance has gone down as the crime rate here is virtually non-existent. Indeed, our neighbours think we are weird because, as nervous ex-city dwellers, we installed a burglar alarm as soon as we moved in. Old habits die hard. And of course there is crime here. The house on the corner of our street was burgled oh….around 4 years ago ! There are, I’d imagine, the usual issues which all small towns suffer from. Discontented young people who move out as soon as they can and who, in the meantime engage in acts of public drunkenness and skate-boarding (there is an excellent skate park here, just by the front, so it is all very contained). The greatest concern for the local paper is dog poo !! Lots of it, caused no doubt by 26% of the population not being able to bend down to pick it up. Or see it.
We are, however, in an area graded as moderate flood risk. Clevedon is actually below sea level but the Environment Agency has done a fine job of constructing comprehensive flood defences to prevent major disasters. As far as we can tell, our house has never actually been flooded, but the very existence of the flood risk meant that house contents and buildings insurance went up. And as we no longer have a mortgage, so can’t rely on the building society to sort out buildings insurance this was something we had to sort at last minute. We’ll wait and see what happens when the first rains come, but I am not going for the sandbags just yet.
So all in all we are very happy. Indeed, it still feels a bit like being on holiday having the sea just 10 minutes walk down the road. And one thing which I didn’t bargain for, which is the psychological benefit of travelling into Bristol to work, and then out of Bristol to go home. I’ve always struggled to separate work from home – it’s easier to grab a glass (or a bottle) of wine to relax and make the break between one mode of consciousness and the other. But a 35 minute bus ride with the bay coming into view (on a clear day) in between the trees over the top from Failand is quite enough to make me feel that I’m right away from the workplace and all therein. The more worrying aspect of that is that the dreaded ‘R’ word has begun to creep into conversation – Retirement – as all this holiday stuff has made work appear rather tedious compared to travelling around and just enjoying being here and out of Bristol. Again, we shall see.
I’ll try and keep this more up to date now, hopefully without wittering on too much and without sounding too much like a sort of Somerset Doc Martin. For those of you who find all this bucolic idyll stuff too tedious for words, we are back to EuroDisney on 17 February 2014 so just hold your horses for more thrills then. In the meantime, let’s all go crabbing !