After a bit of a hiatus from writing on here and as my final few days in Northampton draw near, it seems appropriate to start things off again with a reflective post dedicated to Northampton, my often under-appreciated hometown.
A long-term return was never in my (very vague) plans on coming back to the UK, however as it turned out, an extended stay in Northampton was on the cards for me. While it was nice being near family again, living at home and saving money, I was definitely resisting Northampton to begin with. I was working out of town, had a bedtime of 8pm (the only way the 4.30am start could be bearable) and on weekends when I wasn't doing overtime, I'd be roaming the country visiting friends.
At the end of last summer, I made a decision to embrace Northampton as much as I could. With this more positive mindset, it really didn't take too long for me to reconnect with my hometown and finally, I began to find a place here for my twenty-something year old self.
While I am very excited for a new adventure, I can't help but feel a little nostalgic for what has turned out to be a pretty poignant Northampton chapter for me.. and maybe a little regretful for not embracing the town a little sooner. Here are a few places and things i'll miss..
Abington Park. Northampton is home to a number of really lovely parks. Abington Park is my favourite of them all - with vast green spaces, plenty of trees, a couple of ponds, ducks and the Park Café. It is particularly beautiful in autumn.
Engine. Northampton's first co-working space which conveniently opened shortly after my decision to embrace Northampton. I met some great people here who introduced me to even more good stuff happening around town. It also inspired me to take the leap into freelancing and is actually where I found my first big freelance client!
An indie coffee shop is a natural habitat for writers and freelancers. Since i've moved back, three wonderful little spots have opened in town. Ground Craft Coffee, Magee Street Bakery and Yellow Bourbon (who also roast their own coffee).
The Market Sanctuary. A tranquil community space offering everything from mindfulness classes to reiki healing. A place where you can simply bring a little bit of calm into your everyday life or explore a deeper spiritual path.
Pubs. While frequenting Bridge Street was fun and exciting when I was a teen, it's safe to say that phase of my life can stay firmly in the 00's. Luckily, there are a number of locally owned bars that offer a more relaxed (and less gropey) vibe than Bridge street. I've enjoyed chilled week-night drinks as well as lively weekend evenings in The Lamplighter, The Princess Alexandra, The Charles Bradlaugh and The Garibaldi. The Olde England by the Racecourse also offers a very cosy setting as well as an impressive array of weird and wonderful ciders, wines and beers.
The comfort of being at home. From the age of 18 to 24, my life consistently ran somewhere between pretty and very fast paced. I knew returning to Northampton would slow that down considerably. I was reluctant for this to happen at first, however in the end it turned out to be exactly what I didn't know I needed. I have come to appreciate a slower pace of life, fell in love with cooking, developed what I imagine will be a life-long love of yoga, read a whole load of books, became slightly obsessed with podcasts and have even found joy in early nights and (occasional) sober weekends.
Sol Y Luna Tapas Bar. I lost the enjoyment of eating out a bit after living in Hong Kong. So although I've been all about home-cooked meals since getting back, on the occasion when I eat out in Northampton, this is my top choice. I just love it!
Local culture and community. This was one of the reasons I loved living in Sheffield so much (and still often muse about going back). I always thought that Northampton was missing this a bit, however that is not the case.. it's just a little more understated, reserved and under the radar. There are loads of interesting people doing wonderful things around the town. Some proof of this, the Audio Works podcast has over 100 episodes to date, interviewing Northamptonians who are doing a variety of cool things and making a difference.
There is an art scene. Once the shoe-making capital of the world, Northampton has a creative heart and a number of very talented local artists. Keep an eye out for Goodwill Painting's series of positive messages in negative space popping up around town...
So, Northampton. It's been weird and wonderful returning as a sort of, but not quite, 'proper' adult. I've done some growing up, found a little bit of direction and fell in love with my hometown all over again.
Farewell for now, shoe town.