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/ log / Jul, 2008 /

No. 172

Number 172 on the wall outside the front door.

When I woke this morning it seemed like any other day. The sun was shining. I liked that. The boys were mischievous. I liked that too. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Then I remembered: Today we get the keys to our new house.

Our new house is on a narrow street in Montpelier. When we arrived it felt like coming home, which it is in a way. The area’s old streets are more suited to horses and people than cars, regardless of the lines on the roads. Montpelier undulates up a hillside, at the top of which Cromwell once stood directing cannon fire onto the city during the civil war. It was market gardens then. It was, according to local legend, given its name by prisoners of the Napoleonic wars who said it reminded them of Montpellier in France. In Bristolian Montpelier, sandstone-faced Georgian houses sit next to ancient cottages and Victorian terrace town houses. Our house is one of the latter. More square than usual, on one of the lower streets, with a grape vine, a pear tree, and a passion fruit bush in the garden.

Looking out of the back door at no. 172.

Number 172 is special for a few reasons. It’s the first house we’ve bought. Years ago, when friends were busy being career super-heros and I was busy being a itinerant vagabond I wondered if I would ever put down roots . They were buying houses. I was off to Australia on a whim, or living in The Seychelles, or running a stall on Brixton market for the summer playing French hip-hop and selling sunglasses. Until today I’ve always rented places. I fell in love with some. I fell out with others. I was always moving around and moving on. No longer!

Another reason is that this marks a return to Montpelier. An area I fell in love with when I first came to Bristol in 2000. Artists, musicians, film-makers all paint the walls, eat a lot of organic food, smile a lot, and generally act as a band-aid on the wound of capitalism lest the world forget that life is much, much more than paying bills and buying Apple gear. Architects, hippies, designers and fiends also live here. It’s an oasis of difference: From Herbert’s Bakery to Saj’s grocers; from veggie breakfasts at The Bristolian to the friendly smell of weed in The Cadbury garden and deli feasts from Licata’s; Montpelier is special. I’m glad to be home.

The final reason, and most important of all to me, is the most prosaic. This is ours. A family home that we own. It feels different. A calm kind of contentment.

As I sit writing this, the day is quickly coming to a close, and I wanted to mark the moment. As the States celebrate their independence, we’ve celebrated our own in a small way. I took some pictures. It was a wonderful day.


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  1. 1. By Simon Pascal Klein on 4th Jul ’08 at 15:24pm

    Love the capitalism quote. Congrats mate. What’s the next thing on the list? (;

  2. 2. By Peter Gasston on 4th Jul ’08 at 15:59pm

    How funny; I used to live there, and remember many of those places you mention. I lived on Richmond Road, and used to frequent the Cadbury and the Montpelier Hotel. It makes me shudder to think that was over 15 years ago!

  3. 3. By joshnunn on 4th Jul ’08 at 19:53pm

    Congratulations. I’ve recently done the same, and for me it was a really calming experience, to know that you’ve always got somewhere to put your feet up. I hope you have many years of happiness there.

  4. 4. By pixeldiva on 5th Jul ’08 at 02:51am


    I used to think that I didn’t ever want to put down roots, but lately I find myself wishing for the stability of a house that’s truly mine.

    It looks like you’ve chosen a wonderful place to put down roots, I’m a little jealous :)


  5. 5. By Edwin on 5th Jul ’08 at 07:01am

    Congretulations with your new house! :) Never been in Bristol, but it looks a nice place to live :)

  6. 6. By Ian on 5th Jul ’08 at 12:14pm

    Congratulations Jon! Having property of your own is certainly a significant step. I hope there are many years of happiness ahead.

    There may yet be hope for my "itinerant vagabond" self at some point in the future. :)

  7. 7. By Justin Kropp on 5th Jul ’08 at 15:08pm

    Jon – best wishes on the new house. It looks elegant, comfortable and crisp. What else could one ask for?

  8. Jon 陳’s profile 8. By Jon 陳 on 6th Jul ’08 at 04:55am

    Thanks guys, all your kind wishes are very much appreciated.

    Simon,if only there was anything as organised as a list! Peter, I lived at the top Richmond Road for six years. Where were you? Ann, it feels a long way from Brixton Hill in the 90s and we still miss it sometimes. It’s been a long road and there’s still work to come but these roots feel good!

    Standing outside talking to the neighbours before St Paul’s Carnival yesterday, it really did feel like returning home. “Welcome home, sister” said one of them to Mrs T. Classic Montpelier.

  9. 9. By Peter Gasston on 6th Jul ’08 at 08:08am

    I can’t for the life of me remember the number I lived at, but it was a high number, on the left hand side as you walk up the road. It was the first flat I lived in after leaving home, back in about 1991/92.

  10. 10. By Steve Avery on 6th Jul ’08 at 12:05pm

    Hey Jon.

    The new home looks amazing. And it seems that you don’t have any DIY to do?

    We moved into our 3rd house back in Jan '06 and I’m still doing DIY now! Although, after the garden is finished the only room we need to do will be the kitchen. And then Mrs A will probably want to refresh all the rooms again. As they do. You’ve got to love 'em… :)

  11. 11. By Ian on 6th Jul ’08 at 15:48pm

    It seems we’re leading double lives mate. Viv and I just bought our first place, picked the keys up on Friday and have just finally sat back after shifting boxes for the last few days. We also have a red front door. Oo-er missus.

  12. 12. By Jon Gibbins on 7th Jul ’08 at 01:42am

    Congrats Jon! The place looks gorgeous and very welcoming. I’m sure you and the family will be adding your own little touches to make it feel even more like home.

  13. 13. By Ben on 8th Jul ’08 at 05:32am

    Congratulations mate, any time you fancy a pint in the Cadbury just give us a shout.

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