It’s hard moving away from a place you called home for three decades, leaving behind friends, family, and familiarity. But sometimes you’ve got to leave, to move on to better times, to get away from the holes you’d dug yourself into. It didn’t stop me missing the Isle of Wight and the silly things in life, though. Things like a loo-roll train my youngest son, Bam, made me when he was even younger to keep my pens in. Things like a picture of my girlfriend and of my kids. Stuff I’d stupidly left behind. It all happened so quick I’d had to pack up everything within a day, leaving it in boxes at my folks’ place.
I had no trepidation about leaving the island as I’ve always loved a good adventure, and to travel, and driving lorries around the country again would supply me with both.
But before I could pollute more of the country with… well, with me, I needed a new home, somewhere to eat, sleep, and write, and—more importantly—somewhere I could hook up my PS4 so I could play/speak to my kids and my dad. Yeah, that’s right; Papa Ruth is in his 60s and gaming hard.
As I’ve told you previously, I found a new, temporary home with my sister and her family, and while it was strange living under a roof with other people, it was fun, and I enjoyed my time there.
But I needed to find a little space for myself, and to try and avoid the bastard traffic into Gosport on my way home. Because of my job, I can finish work any time from roughly midday (which is very fucking rare) to 9pm (which is very fucking common). If I finished around 3pm to 6pm, I may as well have stayed at work, because getting from Southampton to Gosport could become anything up to an hour and a half trek. And it was only 24 miles away.
I had originally asked my sis and her family for a month’s stay, but it stretched to two and they said I could stay longer, but I had to move on. I know that my brother-in-law, Rick, was especially sad to see me go. He was always masking his pain behind lines like, ‘are you still fucking here?’ ‘haven’t you found somewhere else to live yet?’ ‘I’ve already got two kids to clean up after, I don’t need another,’ and ‘once you’re gone, you’re gone’.
Yep, he’ll miss me the most.
My girlfriend lives and works in Leicester, and she’s the main reason I had to sort my life out and move north. Well, north of the island. If you don’t know who she is, take a look:
Anyway, Gosport is still almost as far away from Leicester as the Isle of Wight is, so any further north I could move would make it easier for us to see each other. I figured I’d settle into my job and clear my debts (more of that in another blog) before I’d start transferring myself up England until we’d find a place to settle and live together again.
I love Salisbury, and every time I’d deliver to homes in the city I’d window shop in estate agents and local papers. I love the area, the cathedral, the city centre, and especially the Reeves bakery which is absolutely amazing. Check out the rainbow cake if you’re ever in the area. I wanted to move there for the cake alone!
When Russia isn’t trying to murder its old spies, Salisbury town centre is a busy and lively place, with a market held in the main square twice a week, and—being a former market boy myself—I knew this city was the one for me.
I plotted to move into a flat just outside the city centre with another driver from my work place. However, due to circumstances out of my control, it all fell through a week before we were due to move in. Suddenly I found myself on a timer, looking for a home.
I needed a break.
That break came in the form of a hairy, tattooed angel, who set me up with a cheap hotel just north of Salisbury. It was a fairly nice area, and the room and the staff were cool. It was pretty much the same distance north from Southampton as Gosport was southeast, but I figured the traffic would be better.
The traffic was worse.
From the yard in Southampton to Amesbury it should’ve been around a 40 minute drive… but if I went though Salisbury itself, which was the shortest route, this would become an hour and 45 during rush hour. But usually I’d work way past rush hour… and then I’d begrudge the 40 minute drive if I finished late, as I’d get in and pretty much go straight to bed. And I didn’t have a cooker. Or fridge. Or the loo-roll pen-holder Bam had made me.
I spent two weeks in Amesbury, going to work in the ice and dark, coming home in the icy dark. Without a fridge I’d hang my milk in a carrier bag out of the window every night to keep it cold.
With my tenure about to end at the hotel I needed somewhere else. I was still strapped for cash (thank fuck I didn’t blow over a grand on that Salisbury flat) so I still couldn’t afford a ‘new’ place to live, so a cheap hotel it would have to be again.
Or would it?
Someone mentioned a website in which you could rent a room in a house from people for a lot cheaper than a flat so I took a look… and found something straight away! It was a house in New Milton, an area in which a lot of my family lived around, and where my parents had grown up. And it was 5 miles closer than Gosport and Amesbury to Southampton.
BUT… the phone number on the fucking advert was wrong and I couldn’t get a reply. So, after work one day, I set off to find a house in New Milton. I knew the road name, and—with my dad using google maps and pictures of the building—I found where it was relatively easily.
Of course, there was no one fucking home.
I knocked on a neighbour’s door and—thankfully—they had the landlady’s number, and soon I was chatting happily with her. I wouldn’t be able to see the room for a couple of days, as it wasn’t quite ready, but the whole thing was very promising. We exchanged texts for a couple of days, but, on the day of the visit, it turned out there were moving fees and a deposit which weren’t mentioned in the advert! I didn’t have enough money to cover these surprise costs, so I stuck what little money I had back into my hotel room for another week.
Was I ever going to find somewhere to live?
The next day I was back on the Isle of Wight for deliveries and I drove past my old flat. I didn’t get homesick, as such, but the pang of seeing the place, driving old, familiar roads, and seeing several old friends that day almost pulled me back to the island for good.
But I was better off away.
We passed my parent’s house in Ryde and I pulled the truck up, jumping out to the confusion of my crew-mate.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“I just gotta get something,” I said, running into the house.
I returned with a box of stuff, telling him it was things I’d forgotten to pack.
“What’s in it?” he asked as I moved the lorry onward.
“Books, pans… silly stuff,” I said.
The box of ‘silly stuff’ lived in the hotel with me until I eventually found a room to rent on a pay-day when I gloriously got almost two months pay in one hit due to fuck ups with tax. It paid for a room and a car because my old heap decided it was on its way out just as I got paid. I was totally broke again, but I had a vehicle to get me to work, and I finally had a semblance of a home. Sure, it was just a room in a house rented with two complete strangers, but it was a ‘home’. A home for me and my silly stuff.
Because sometimes it’s the silly stuff you need to make you feel at home.