I should start this post with an explanation. As a Methodist Student Minister the choice of where I study and whether I do it full- or part-time was not mine to make. I was given the opportunity to have my say on the decision but ultimately it lay with Conference (delegated, in the proper Methodist tradition, to appropriate committees and panels whose decisions are (normally) rubber-stamped by Conference each July).
I explain this because the reality of the situation is that we did not choose to be in Cambridge. Mrs Nomad and I took very seriously our part in the decision making process, and we included the wee one in it as well. We knew I would ask to study full-time (past experience has shown I don’t do part-time study very well) and we knew we did not want to be in Birmingham (nothing against Birmingham per se, it’s just not the place for us), so we looked very carefully at the final two places – Durham and Cambridge. We loved Cambridge as a place but having seen the family accommodation available through the Wesley Study Centre/Cranmer Hall at Durham I filled in my required forms in a way that strongly encouraged the Allocations Committee to send us there rather than Wesley House. We were therefore understandably disheartened, indeed very upset, when the letter arrived informing us of the decision to send me (us) to Cambridge. After a number of emails and phonecalls, and a retail therapy trip to Richmond-upon-Thames, we made our peace with the decision. While Mrs Nomad was still a little uncertain about the accommodation situation I, in my usual happy-go-lucky way, refused to let little niggles get to me, like the size of the wee one’s bedroom, the effort it took to move our stuff, including some pretty bulky furniture, into a 2nd floor flat with an extraordinarily narrow entrance-way, the fact that initially the powers-that-be couldn’t get their head around the idea we would need to move in before the usual moving week of 20th September, or having to leave the wee one’s trampoline behind because of insurance issues. That is, I refused to let them get to me until yesterday evening, and the baking-tray incident! Currently, while I am not attending lectures, etc., I am taking charge of cooking dinner and yesterday we were having baked gammon (with potatoes, eggs and peas), which required a baking tray. Having pre-heated the oven I went to put the gammon in, only to discover the baking tray wouldn’t fit. “Right, ok, I’ll just pop upstairs and borrow one from another resident”. I did that, came back down with the baking tray they had removed from their own oven, only to discover that one didn’t fit either. That’s right – the oven in the other flat will take the baking tray but not mine! Anyway, since the House Manager is currently away, and I really don’t want to seem like the tenant from hell, there’s not much I can or will do for now, but the incident did bring those feelings back, the same feelings I felt when I first opened the email from Allocations.
Yet the dinner itself (in the end I used a cake-tin that fitted easily to cook the gammon and it was a lovely meal!), the fact I could just pop upstairs and borrow a baking tray, and the walk I have had the last two mornings taking the wee one to school, also show the wonderful upsides of our new life. For a number of years I did a job that meant leaving the house about 7.30am and often getting home again at about 7.00pm (with work following me around before and after that on a BlackBerry). Don’t get me wrong, I loved the work I did (until certain parts of it finally burnt me out), but it stopped me doing things, like taking the wee one to school, and having family dinners – the wee one would have dinner at the childminder while Mrs Nomad and I would eat later once wee one was in bed. And I love being able to knock on a neighbours door and ask to borrow something (which reminds me, I need to take it back in a bit!). I love bumping into people like the maintenance manager on the stairs and just being able to have a chat about recycling. And as someone who likes both the urban and the rural I love that while the city centre shops are just a couple of minutes walk away, the countryside is a short riverside bike ride away as well (which reminds me, I want to go for a ride in a bit!).
I guess it’s like all life, featuring both downs (and in reality an oven that won’t take a baking tray is not a major issue compared to what so many in the world face) and ups. And the ups in my life currently most definitely outweigh the downs – whether I’ll still be saying that once my training starts we’ll all have to wait and see!
For now, travel well,