Conversations with Colchester

The moment I first set foot on your quaint, cobbled streets is etched in my mind forever.

My trepidation at leaving my life in Brisbane behind became a distant memory as I stepped off the train and inhaled your crisp air.

My lips curled up in a delirious smile as I struggled to contain the excitement brewing inside of me. I forgot about the weight of my bulging backpack, my exhaustion from the long trip, and the bitterly cold wind as you serenaded me with a flurry of delicate snowflakes that gently kissed my eyelashes and face.

The snow was a magical welcome to your town and so far removed from the sweltering heat we had left.

It was in January 2003 when we first met.

Dave had convinced me we should trek across to the other side of the world for an overseas experience – a rite of passage for Aussies and Kiwis.

I was keen to set up home in the big smoke of London, but Dave had assured me for various reasons that you would suit us better.

He made the right choice.

When we reached our new home, I peered out the window to survey my surroundings. The snow was falling heavier now covering everything in a white blanket. The houses were joined together and the streets were lined with cars parked in whatever direction suited the driver. There was a pub across the road which we soon learned was owned by a tough, old bird Ange, who once told us she would ban us for life if we brought anymore Aussies or Kiwis into her pub.

I spent the first few weeks getting lost in your winding streets and exploring your old castle, Roman wall and ruins. I still remember the excitement of my first squirrel spotting.

colchester castle

I battled terribly with the cold at first and whinged constantly about not having a shower and having to bathe with a weird contraption that only dribbled out water.

Three weeks into our stay with you, I wrote this to my family.

As the oldest recorded town in Britain, Colchester has quite a history to it. Founded by the Roman Emperor Claudius in 49 AD, the town was once the capital of Roman Britain. At that stage, London was just a small trading post. Colchester has an awesome old castle, Roman wall and ruins.

The town centre’s paved streets lined with shops run from one into the other. That is until you reach the top of North Hill …

… At the top of North Hill, I have found an oasis. A source of shelter from the bitterly cold winds. This home away from home is O’Neills – our favourite pub. After a week of unemployment I spent nearly every day in this pub. I am now on a first name basis with Kevin the Manager, and Maria and Nikki the barmaids.

I was quite homesick at the start. I could only find sporadic temp work in London and wasted most of my wage on the weekly commute. On days I wasn’t working I would mosey alone through your town centre, chat to the gang at O’Neills, and ensure I was home for Neighbours.

We quickly became die-hard Corrie fans, found a local, and entertained each other with fake English accents using the words ‘pukka’, ‘alright gee-zer’, ‘pants’ and ‘slapper’ probably a little more than we should.

Although the first few months were a little solitary, it brought Dave and I so much closer together. We leaned on each other and we grew as a couple.

Dave was the first to make a friend and fortunately his friend’s partner was awesome. They opened our eyes to your interesting nightlife which I captured in this email home.

Had a night out in Colchester last night and it was quite the crazy experience. We came across a new breed of women – Essex slappers. (Essex being the county we live in).

I definitely felt out of place. It was just two degrees and these girls were wearing extremely low cut tops accentuating their assets with a wonder bra, mini skirts with black fish net tights and knee high boots. Rugged up in my jeans and coat, I felt so out of place.

And on another occasion …

We went out again last night and busted some moves on the dancefloor. I didn’t have anything slutty to wear, so I just wore my jeans and a long sleeved black top. On the way home, we stopped at the kebab shop and saw a girl in a skirt so short I could see her bum cheeks. Did I mention it was five degrees?!

When I landed a job in your town, my experience changed dramatically.

This job introduced me to the amazing people you have in your town. Some of the most amazing people I have ever met.

The friendliness and generosity of my new workmates and their willingness to take me under their wing was unbelievable. They welcomed me into their homes and introduced me to their families, dropped me home from work, rescued me in the snow when I was close to dying of frostbite and gave me mugs of hot water to hold so I wouldn’t feel left out when everyone else had about 20 cups of tea a day.

These people made me belong in your town. They became my family truly making you a home away from home.

I have been lucky enough to have seen the sights and experienced the cultures of some of the most amazing cities in the world.

I have climbed the likes of the Eiffel Tower, La Sagrada Familia and the Duomo. I have wondered at The Sistine Chapel, El Capitan, and Top Shop on Oxford Street πŸ˜‰ I have experienced La Tomatina and the vibrant nightlife of Spain. And lastly, in my hometown, Brisbane, I have witnessed an overwhelming sense of community when natural disasters devastated our city (taking my photos of Colchester with it).

All of these places and more have left massive impressions on me.

It is you though, Colchester, that I have a soft spot for.

For me, to make a place truly memorable it needs to go beyond natural wonders, architecture and nightlife. It is the culture and the people that make it special. It is the memories you make.

I grew as a person in your town, Colchester. Dave and I grew as a couple. We made friends for life.

Just as it was hard leaving our family in Brisbane in 2003, it was equally hard leaving our new family two years later.

So, here’s to you Colchester – alright geezer. We had a pukka time even though your weather was pants. We’d be chuffed to bits to see you again sometime soon xoxo.

Today, I am linking up with always Josefa for Conversations over Coffee. Each month, Josefa opens up a link with a specific theme. This month’s theme was Conversations with my favourite city.

34 comments on Conversations with Colchester

  1. Clare
    July 25, 2013 at 7:20 am (4 years ago)

    πŸ™‚
    No words.
    Love this post.
    Xxx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 7:45 am (4 years ago)

      Thank you, Clare! I was so nervous with this one. I wanted so desperately to do your town justice. There was so much I could say … xoxo

      Reply
  2. Lydia C. Lee
    July 25, 2013 at 7:20 am (4 years ago)

    Lovely – and how very sad about the photos, but it sounds like the memories are imprinted in your mind….

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 7:45 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks Lydia. They sure are πŸ™‚

      Reply
  3. Chon
    July 25, 2013 at 7:24 am (4 years ago)

    We are privildged to be part of this journey with you guys. Life long friends indeed!

    Reply
    • Chon
      July 25, 2013 at 7:26 am (4 years ago)

      ps: I must add…Although I am from Colchester, I am not an Essex Slapper!!!

      Reply
      • mummywifeme
        mummywifeme
        July 25, 2013 at 7:47 am (4 years ago)

        Lol, Chon! There is no way you’re an Essex slapper x

        Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 7:46 am (4 years ago)

      Ahh yes! The first friends of ours in this town. We will never forget you! x

      Reply
  4. kathryn
    July 25, 2013 at 7:58 am (4 years ago)

    What a great post brought back some lovely memories. Like u Colchester for me in a few short wks will no longer b home but I have enjoyed my time here x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Kathryn πŸ™‚ I’ll never forget how grateful I was to you and Wayne for those lifts home πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to hear about your family’s new adventures. So exciting for you x

      Reply
  5. Susan
    July 25, 2013 at 8:28 am (4 years ago)

    What a wonderful tribute to your home away from home- keep those memories and always share with your readers!! I loved it!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 1:12 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you, Susan. I feel so lucky to have this forum to share my thoughts with everyone. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment πŸ™‚

      Reply
  6. Vivienne
    July 25, 2013 at 9:27 am (4 years ago)

    That was so beautiful, I have very fond memories of the time we shared in Colchester and will remember them forever! Thank you for sharing your beautiful thoughts with me. Xxx Viv

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 1:05 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks for dropping in and commenting, Viv! It was a very special time for me and Dave. I hope you and the girls are well x

      Reply
  7. Kate @ My Dear Angel
    July 25, 2013 at 9:39 am (4 years ago)

    Oh, I loved reading this. I was the same during my first winter in London, feeling extremely overdressed for a work Christmas Party, and in absolute shock at was that others wore!

    Glad Topshop got a mention up there with the famous landmarks!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 1:06 pm (4 years ago)

      Lol, Kate. I was in awe of Top Shop on Oxford Street πŸ™‚ Definitely worth a mention πŸ™‚

      Reply
  8. Josefa @always Josefa
    July 25, 2013 at 10:22 am (4 years ago)

    What a truly beautiful post, thank you so much for sharing your story! I was lost in your words, reading and wanting to find out more. It is terribly sad about the photos, but this just proves that words outlive time and disaster – don’t they? When i think about England, my memories are frozen over, but this brought so many of them back to life. Thank you for linking up to #convocoffee

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 1:08 pm (4 years ago)

      And thank you for having me, Josefa! I look forward to it each month. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and it brought back some memories for you x

      Reply
  9. Lisa Wood
    July 25, 2013 at 10:28 am (4 years ago)

    Gorgeous. I love it when a community embraces a new comer, and it sounds like they took both of you under their wings.
    It sure is pretty even though the temperature is so very cold πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 1:09 pm (4 years ago)

      Yes it is so special when they embrace you. I suppose you would be used to meeting new people and making new friends all the time on the road. Thanks for dropping in πŸ™‚

      Reply
  10. Rach
    July 25, 2013 at 3:33 pm (4 years ago)

    Cheers to not dressing like a slapper and cheers to Colchester xxx

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 8:46 pm (4 years ago)

      Lol. Thanks Rach πŸ™‚

      Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 8:48 pm (4 years ago)

      Ahh Edinburgh. I’ve never been, but would love to one day!

      Reply
  11. Steph
    July 25, 2013 at 6:41 pm (4 years ago)

    Great post Renee, very vivid :)! It’s funny how you look back and remember the quirks of a place, even the negatives are remembered fondly, cos these experiences are your own to keep forever :)! I loved England so much, esp out rural and so wish I could have stayed longer, that said, I would never have meet up with David H if my visa had come through :)! Ps awful about photos – hopefully you can get some copies?!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 25, 2013 at 8:50 pm (4 years ago)

      Well thank God your visa never came through then πŸ™‚ Everything has a way of happening for a reason. I was able to salvage a few pics, Steph. That just reminded me of that time in that old storage king shed when you and Dave helped sort through our wet stuff. Good times :/

      Reply
  12. Corinne
    July 26, 2013 at 6:17 am (4 years ago)

    Ahhh Ren, we miss you both. Reckon Martin would give his eye teeth to have you back.
    One of these days (when i’ve not got shedloads of work to do), I’ll send you over copies of the picnic in the park.
    C x

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 26, 2013 at 6:36 am (4 years ago)

      Thanks Corinne πŸ™‚ I’d love that x

      Reply
  13. Leanne Winter
    July 26, 2013 at 10:50 am (4 years ago)

    Lovely post, Renee. What an adventure – you made me feel like I was right there with you.

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Leanne πŸ™‚

      Reply
  14. Rhianna
    July 28, 2013 at 11:41 am (4 years ago)

    oh gosh so beautifully written, Colchester sure did caputre your heart. Thank you for sharing

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 28, 2013 at 2:16 pm (4 years ago)

      Thank you so much, Rhianna!

      Reply
  15. Emily
    July 29, 2013 at 9:11 pm (4 years ago)

    Great letter to your favourite city! I am hanging out to go back to England again and see some of the little places, not just the big smoke. Thanks for introducing me to another one!

    Reply
    • mummywifeme
      mummywifeme
      July 29, 2013 at 9:56 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks Emily. I can’t wait to get back to the other side of the world too!

      Reply

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