On returning to where it all began

The Royal Crescent aka where I will live one day, one day

A turned corner. An intake of breath. A moment that hurtles you back through time and space, leaving a trail of goose bumps on your arms and tears prickling at your eyes. Your stomach is a twisted pile in the pit of your stomach and the emotion of it all threatens to drown you like a tidal wave. That, or you just have your period.

Such was the emotional rollercoaster ride at the start of my week as I decided to take myself on an as-spontaneous-as-I-get trip to Bath. A city that was the backdrop to my first UK life. A time so long passed that I need to be very still, and concentrate very hard, in order to conjure the thread of the beginning of a hint of a memory from that time.

I blame alcohol.

But nostalgia for a previous life wasn’t the reason for my sudden urge to buy a bus ticket (for who can afford the train when you’re a writer) to England’s South West. No. The urge was embedded in my growing fear that I was forgetting the city entirely. A problem that wouldn’t be a problem had it not been for the fact that Bath is the backdrop of the manuscript I’m slowly trying to piece together. Gripped with a healthy dose of procrastination – of course I have time to leave the confines of the library where I should be writing 2000 words a day and travel to a whole other place for more than a day! – and the ‘why nots’, I booked and a week later, I was off.

I had an itinerary of the spots I needed to visit. Places that, for one reason or another, featured in my story and needed that extra splash of colour to, hopefully, make those scenes as authentic as possible. But at the back of my mind, I knew there was one spot in particular that I hoped I’d have time to visit. It was low down on my list of priorities and so I put it to one side.

And so to Bath!

I wandered (read: stepped carefully) along the cobblestone streets of the city that I couldn’t believe was my home for twelve months. How lovely to have a thing in common with Jane Austen. But while she didn’t always have the nicest things to say about the town, I will hold nothing but dear thoughts about the city (when I can remember them).
 
Requisite Jane Austen snap
I took myself off to the stunning Circus and noticed for the first time the small sculptures along the tops of all the windows. I zipped by the Abbey that I have still yet to visit, and stopped outside the Roman Baths where a burst of memory hit me sideways. I’ve been to a work Christmas party there!

I saw the beginnings of what I knew would be a spectacular Christmas market and shook my fist at the rain. I walked on until I reached Sydney Gardens and the tiny opening that would lead on to one of the loveliest canal walks I’ve ever been made to walk (though I eschewed recreating that particular adventure for fears I would slip on the built-up path of leaves and end up in the canal itself).
 
Lovely, but, I mean, would you walk down that path?!?!
I glided over Pulteney Bridge and bought a second-hand book at the Guildhall market. I walked quickly by the building I used to work in and I marvelled at the number of new restaurants, and smiled at the ones that had stood the test of time. I saw the sun set over the vivid green field in front of the Royal Crescent then turned to take in the Crescent itself. Still one of my favourite views in the city. I had a wine at my old local, a pub that features quite heavily in my story, as it should.

As darkness fell and the effects of the wine began to take their toll, I walked back towards my accommodation for the night, via a small detour. And as I stepped slowly along the road I had once known without the need of Google maps, I came across the house that used to be my home.

A turned corner. An intake of breath. A moment that hurtles you back through time and space, leaving a trail of goose bumps on your arms and tears prickling at your eyes. Your stomach is a twisted pile in the pit of your stomach and the emotion of it all threatens to drown you like a tidal wave. That, or you just have your period.

For me, it was both, not gonna lie,  but no less startling in the force of the realisation, of the emotion that overtook me as I looked at that path, that front door, those windows and realised I hadn’t stood in front of them for over ten years. It had been that long ago, that first UK life of mine. And oh how far I have come since then. But if it hadn’t been for that first home, that first try, I would never have come back for a second. I would never have been as happy as I am now as I live this second UK life.

So thank you, Bath. Thank you Crescent Gardens. I owe you a lot.

A lot.
Where it all began


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