It seems something of a whirlwind year to reflect upon, as February 1st approaches. As with most of the years in my twenties, it’s flown by; there have been good parts, bad parts, very fuzzy patches and, of course, the surprising parts. ‘The older you get, the more time seems to fly’, I often get told by family, friends and some of my regular customers.
I was asked to write about my decision to move to Nottingham, what made me do it, what made me stay and why do I both enjoy and support the local community so much. Reflection on last year is proving somewhat difficult to dissect, when your moving date to Nottingham almost exactly coincides with the day your Maternity Leave starts. Hell, I’m thinking to myself as I type, something must have gone right here.
First and foremost, I should probably just state that London Girl met Nottingham Boy and very quickly discovered a disliking for ‘The Big Smoke’ and all its rushing around. Those of us who have been in long distance relationships of any kind, will know the inevitable discussions and decisions about edging across country to be closer together crop up in the early stages, when you cannot bear the time you spend apart. This was the start of my love for Nottingham. Hailing from sleepy Somerset, I was used to a somewhat quieter life; walking from one side of town to the other, the security of familiarity in the streets that you ventured to the people that you saw. I suppose my flying visits to Nottingham made me both miss and appreciate these things which, in turn, made the decision of who was to make the move much easier. Mr J took me to several of his haunts and, within them, I saw snapshots of a life I could see myself adjusting to.
Moving, as stressful as it seemed at the time, was always the easiest part. It’s the life you have to create for yourself once you are here that proves to be the most challenging. I had done this before, University, a brave move to London and had always considered myself something of a phoenix rising from the ashes, in terms of starting new. You are reliant upon friends of friends and people who barely know you, to introduce you to the ways of a new city, the dos and the don’ts, the nightlife and the lowlife. But what has, and is still, remarkable about the folk of Nottingham, is their complete acceptance and friendliness, the communities they form and the sense of pride they instil within all who live here. I was relieved to move here and begin to form friendships with such laid-back and welcoming folk, which is always the hard part, when you’ve had to leave some truly wonderful people behind. Never, for example, have I seen more support for a successful local artist than when Jake Bugg’s new album topped the charts at the end of last year.
Of course, moving to another city meant searching for a new job. This was where my impulsive side was to step in, inspired by what I had already seen evolving in Nottingham. I wanted to explore the possibilities of setting up a business, supported by the community and bringing something of my skills to the surface, now hidden under years of safe retail management. There is something about the community pockets of Nottingham that make you feel brave about exposing your own creativity to willing listeners and potential consumers. It is a city that strives to provide for its creative hubs – musicians, writers, crafters alike can all thrive in Nottingham’s smaller communities – the networks, the small businesses, the flea markets and craft fayres. It was lovely to see so many people supporting local businesses at Christmas time at the various events being held around the city, to see the positive actions being taken to provide platforms for up and coming new artists to showcase their talents, to be accepted myself as a new business in the area and, whilst there is much to be done to move my ideas forward into the New Year and with a mini on board too; I have the good people of Nottingham to thank for the confidence, inspiration and opportunities I’ve been given to learn from hasty decision-making and continue to create, in whatever direction that takes me.
So, I suppose what was originally a move for one reason, became a move for so much more when I realised how much more this city had to offer. I’ve created a life (and created life, so to speak) in less than a year and am so excited to see what pops up for me, us and our communities of Nottingham in the months and years ahead.
Emma, a blogger for Creative Nottingham, is a new Mum and Vintage and creative magpie – when not working on various crafting and baking projects she is writing her first, as yet un-published novel. Follow her on Twitter @missberrystea for more info on upcoming projects.