I’ve always been a bit of an ‘expat’.

My parents met in the late sixties working together at Hemlington Hospital and soon after getting married moved to Zambia. I was born in Zambia, my father having spent much of that decade working across southern and central Africa. Perhaps that is the origin of my travel-lust! At the age of  2 and a a half, we moved home to Teesside. I grew up in Nunthorpe and attended Nunthorpe School, leaving in 1987 to go to university in Edinburgh. After many years living away from Teesside my family and I returned in 2015 and I enjoyed 6 years living in Marton.

As you would expect there are many fond memories of growing up, mostly they involve playing football at the end of our road in Nunthorpe, or hiking around the North Yorkshire Moors. There were many happy days with Stokesley Swimming Club and the 17th Boys Brigade Company in Marton. However my Teesside-related fond memories are varied. I loved going to Ayresome Park every Saturday. It had a distinctive smell, the size of it when I was small was staggering, and the atmosphere of those biggest games was unforgettable – the win over Villa in the ZDS Cup, the 2-2 FA Cup match with Everton, or the Wolves cup match which was the beginning of the end. My favourite places to visit have always involved industrial views, from the hills over Marske or at South Gare.

My Grandad was from Stockton and I loved the walking tours of ‘his’ Stockton, where he metaphorically and literally couldn’t see the decay that blighted his wonderful town. In the end I think my biggest memories are of those days walking to Ayresome Park, the tight streets, the chants, the anticipation and the tension.

 After studying and working in the UK I moved to Nassau in The Bahamas in 1995 to work as a science teacher in an international school. I enjoyed four fantastic years there. I made a name for myself as a karaoke devotee, and after 3 years residency was picked to play football for the country in the Copa Caribe. I was honoured to win international caps, playing up-front with fellow Boro fan Martin Todd from Stockton! From Nassau I moved to Bangkok in Thailand. I spent 8 years there working as a vice principal in an international school, I got married and had a son. I love Thailand and feel that the ethos and values of the Thai people make me what I am today. I left teaching after Thailand to work for an international education provider in Cardiff where we had our daughter. Does that count as being an expat? That role re-located after 3 years to The Hague in The Netherlands. It is a wonderful country to live in, and the Dutch culture and sense of humour closely matches that of the British. Five glorious years in The Hague led to a move back to Teesside, and then after living at home in Marton I moved last month, without the family, to India. I am now working in Hyderabad as a Head of School on a beautiful and lush campus with amazing sports facilities.

It is hard to compare my life in India with Teesside. I can’t see any overlap at all, but that is one of the attractions with living in different places. I love the experience of trying something new and learning. I loved Bangkok with the noise, smells and the buzz of life. It couldn’t be further from Nunthorpe! The only overseas place I lived that was in any way similar to Teesside was The Hague. The people love football, pubs, drinking and talking nonsense. Meanwhile everyone is buffeted by North Sea weather and just shrugs and gets on with it. 

 Teesside has much to offer which is largely unknown across the rest of the UK let alone the world. I miss the countryside, see Roseberry Topping, a view that inspires every single time I see it. I miss the banter, the raw humour and the earthiness of the Teessider. I miss Acklam Rugby Club, home to some of the finest and most genuine people you will ever meet. I feel pride when I see the developments across Teesside and the renewed optimism. I feel pride in seeing Middlesbrough College and Teesside University leading in educational thinking, and I maintain an unhealthy obsession with Boro. I miss my family.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.