I was born in Thorne, a small market / mining town near Doncaster in 1965 and lived there until going to do my degree in 1983.
Off to Sunderland.
Now that was not a great place to live. Don’t get me wrong – the course and social life was great but after 3 years of chapped lips from raw wind, I had no hesitation in leaving the place.
Never been back since. Though I’m told it’s very different now. It had good aspects – its proximity to Newcastle, a great coastline and a 1st division football club at Roker Park, but it never felt like a place I’d remain in.
A grim place in the late 80s if I’m honest but the beer was superb across the city and the people were very friendly. I’ve been back to Leeds many times since and actually think it’s great now. But in 1987, with the shadow of Sutcliffe hanging over the city, it wasn’t good.
My first teaching job was at Crompton House, a highly regarded school there where I walked to work and honed my teaching skills in a school that was big on discipline with an excellent headteacher. The area still ranks fondly in my memories as I bought my first house there, made lifelong friends in Shaw and miss the snow, hills and people. But, by God, the crime was appalling: cars broken into, burglaries galore and a general edge to Oldham that wasn’t appealing. I taught at Failsworth School too and Harper Green in Bolton and loved all three places.
Cheddleton and Waterhouses, Staffordshire
Beautiful places on the edge of Leek and Ashbourne, where I got married in Dovedale, had our son born in Derby General and yet only stayed there five years. Teaching was so challenging. I’ve never worked before or since in places that were so tough. I did two spells as Head of English in two schools, before returning to near Doncaster.
The Isle of Axholme – wonderful place though flat after Staffordshire. Taught in Scunthorpe and around the corner from my house for 7 years, until we decided to move to Norfolk.
Apart from age 0 to 18, we’ve never lived as long in one place as Gorleston and Bradwell. I’ve taught in four schools here – two very good ones and two toxic ones and have a love-hate relationship with the place. There is hardly any crime, no pollution it seems to us, a fantastically dry climate, wonderful beaches and countryside and a fine county capital in Norwich. Yet the house is up for sale and we’re looking to relocate. Why? Politics aside, I think I want hills again.
Our next home?
Hopefully in Scotland – but who knows?
What I do appreciate though is that Norfolk, home for 12 years, has been good to me with this business and I’m hoping to replicate success near Edinburgh or Glasgow.
Time will tell.
The best place I’ve lived?
Norfolk, yet we intend to leave.