New house, new location, new life, new start!

Since I was sixteen, I’ve often moved across the south of England every couple of years due to varying educational endeavours and Swindon has been the town I’ve settled in the longest – ten years in fact! It had opened up a lot of opportunities and we often were away from it at the weekend but, after returning from North Wales, it felt like our time here had come to an end and we wanted out; an adventurous and curious mind can only be saited for so long before over familiarisation becomes boring and the contempt has set in. My only disappointment is that we hadn’t done this sooner as the environment had turned sour years ago…

So, when a successful interview meant a move elsewhere we started packing straight away (well, I did… faster than Sonic!). Ten years of living in one place gathers a lot of memories and memorabilia…

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The organising and clearing up of personal items took a long while as I was very indecisive about what to keep or discard… but the matter most concerning and at the forefront was actually having a place to live! We’d been fortunate to be able to privately rent from a Scouting friend all these years so the process of estate agents, credit checks, references, deposits and protection schemes was new territory.

Combined with a couple of months of working on residentials and an inflexible timetable for Terry, time was short and getting shorter before a starting work date of the 2nd September beckoned.

I would miss the view from our old place…

I decided to take the proactive action of booking several viewings one Saturday within the middle of this humid August just passed. Properties within Winchester are not the cheapest to rent for the space they allow, but one did catch our interest (although at first, it had a ‘sixties’ vibe which I wasn’t too sure about). Situated within good travel distance of the areas I’ll be travelling to, it was ideal; the South Downs Way is only a short walk from the property and it was a lot bigger than our current property whilst remaining affordable.

A tense fortnight waiting for acceptance from the landlord and estate agents was uncomfortable – what if we were rejected? We were so close to my work start date that the thought of commuting over two hours a day wasn’t appealing and the thought of remaining where we were was gut-wrenching.

Of course, I wouldn’t be writing this had we not been successful. The previous tenants moved quickly, the landlord wanted someone renting as soon as possible and the estate agents were happy people were interested… so, over the bank holiday weekend, we begun to move.

Opting to pack, carry and transport our items ourselves, we thought we’d manage with just a couple of days and a large van and our cars… surprisingly we managed it well (but not without a few choice words!). As you can probably gather from the pictures we had a lot of items to manage in our new home.

For me, the number of clothes I owned, having taken them out of the storage boxes from the last house, was copious; I hadn’t been made aware of this until they were hung together in my new wardrobe (my other half has his own!)… I’d only taken a few with me to university, so seeing old clothing, unworn for years, brought back pleasant memories.

The unpacking, sorting, organising took several days (the garage items have still not be touched…); we sweated and toiled to rush through this to spend time, within my last week of employment, to allow for Bailey to settle into the property. Having known only one other house in his life (and he was less than 6 months old at the time), he’s never been elsewhere other than short holiday accommodation.

He was very confused, but excited when we had to return to our previous home to clean it before handed the keys back, but then the confusion came back at this new place…

I’ve always wanted a property where we didn’t have to worry about him being out of our sight; the area we used to live in wasn’t often safe for dogs, a couple had been taken from the gardens for horrific purposes or sold on, so Bailey was monitored when he was outside. This was heart-wrenching for me, as he loved to sit and bask in the sunlight, so this enclosed garden of the new property was perfect.

However Bailey, for the first few days, would stand at the conservatory door unsure what to do! He’d look to us for permission to go outdoors and didn’t want to relieve himself on this unfamiliar territory; it took a good week before we caught him slumbering in the sun but it’ll take a longer time for me to relax over him being out of my sight…

He’s still afraid of going in the shower though…


So we’re unpacked and moved in; we have been for a few weeks now. I’m still getting used to the sheer size of the place and being firm with Terry over not trying to fill it with too much furniture; there are still a few things we need – seating for the conservatory, a dining table, bookshelf and desk – but these will come in time.

The next step is to settle into routines, explore the local area and decide whether to continue partaking in old hobbies or try new things. Yes, this chance has certainly been refreshing so far – it’s reignited a zest for life and a passion to be adventurous!

Things certainly have changed for us both in the space of a year!

– Just Joanne

Mobile Phone Discovery

I wonder, if people were to think about all the mobile phones they’ve had in their life how would they feel about it? Would they know how many they’ve used?

I bought my first phone when I was 16 (maybe 17) years old. I remember it well, it was a Nokia phone from Tesco that only had two lines of text on the screen – one line was the time and the other was the message- to read the message you had to scroll across. I remember using it to call my gay best friend, John, to discuss the latest episode of Sex in the City (his favourite character was Samantha, mine was Carrie but we both adored how sweet Charlotte was…)

Then, it all went crazy from there… so I’m going to try and list the phones I can recalling owning over the years…

  • Unknown Tesco phone
  • Nokia 3310 (old version)
  • Nokia 216
  • Nokia 105
  • Nokia 8110 (Matrix phone)


  • Nokia 8210
  • Nokia 6800
  • Nokia 7610 (loved this phone!)


  • Nokia Asha 210
  • Nokia 3310 (new style) – expedition phone
  • Nokia Lumia 735


  • Motorola Razr
  • Motorola V70
  • iPhone 4
  • iPhone 5C
  • iPhone 5S
  • Sony Ericsson W580i (Walkman phone)


  • Sony Ericsson C905i Cyber-shot
  • LG Ks360 in pink (another favourite of mine)


  • LG KP500 (another pink phone!)
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 – used for banking apps
  • Sony Experia
  • Blackberry Q10 – current phone.
  • Blackberry 9320
  • Blackberry Curve 8900
All the current phones I own (which are in bold in the list)

Now, mind you this is 20 years worth of phones… that’s 25 KNOWN phones that I can recall owning throughout those years. I’ve seen pictures of others which I seem to recall owning them but don’t recall for sure, so the number is probably higher… but seriously, wow. I’ve got to stick with one for much longer!

I’m not a fan of smartphones without a QWERTY keyboard. My current phone is a BlackBerry Q10 which, sadly they’ve stopped the BBM service in June this year and will no longer update the apps BUT, for me, this is a good thing for you see (and I know my other half would agree) is that I can get quite addicted to my phone.

At one point, a few years ago, I would wake up – go straight on the phone – go to work – find excuses to leave the classroom to go on the phone – break time – on the phone – lunchtime – on the phone – after work – on the phone – evening – on the phone all the way till bedtime. This was a pattern that was repeating daily and affecting relationships, so I switched to a phone that didn’t have apps, the new style Nokia 3310, to kerb the desire to be on it all the time.

At uni, I had to have a smartphone – mainly as a hotspot device to connect my laptop to the internet and I didn’t think I was too bad on it… but now I’ve been back home I’m again, on it a lot of the time. At least with the Blackberry, with its small screen and only a few apps (WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook lite, GPS, hotspot, Instagram lite) so it’s naturally restricting me and I’m better at moderating it because it takes longer to use these apps than on a touch screen smartphone…

But still, looking at that list I’m actually quite shocked at the number of phones I have owned. Twenty years is a long time but I hadn’t expected it to be that much…! All that money, all that plastic waste, all that time spent using them!!

I wonder dear reader, what your count will be if you were to list all the phones you’ve ever owned…

-Just Joanne

Can you ever go back?

Can you ever go back?

Can you ever go back to a familiar place after a long experience away from it?

Can you ever go back to the same routines, same faces, same streets and alleyways?


It feels surreal to be back home in a house after all that has transpired in the past ten months. Much has changed, a lot has stayed the same but overall everything just sits uncomfortably with me right now. It’s all too familiar, yet different…

I know this is the process of grieving for loss that I’m currently experiencing and there’s much to grieve for – independence with the van, the freedom to chose my sleeping location, the vanlife quirks and challenges, the discovery of hidden areas in deep woods, on sandy beaches and on steep mountainsides, the new locations I found… yet the feeling of not having progressed when in actual fact I’ve progressed further than I would have expected myself to do so when I was younger is lingering within me.

I’ve just hit reality with a bump; the washing needs doing, the carpet needs hoovering, the dog needs walking, the adult politics need sorting, the bills need paying, a job needs applying for, a car needs to be obtained and the demands of the family need addressing. Adulting isn’t the romantic adventure of childhood dreaming we all once thought it would be… the time spent in North Wales did give me that opportunity to step away from ‘adulthood’, just for a little brief while. It was liberating.

The chapter is over, yet the story hasn’t finished.

I know over time these feelings will dissipate as I find focus elsewhere and I’m grateful to have had those 10 months to myself but I can’t help but think that I will go back to the ‘Cinderella chores’ dreaming of wearing those glass slippers again and longing for that freedom from ‘adulthood’ some more!

For now, I’m smiling because it happened, and I’m grateful for those that helped me every step of the way!


– Just Joanne