I've reached the end of week one of my life in the country. For those of you that are not yet aware, last week, I moved away from my hometown of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to the arsehole of Nowhere-Under-Edge.
So far, the vast majority of my time down here has been spent working close to 14 hour shifts, and sleeping in preparation of my next 14 hour shift.
My new home rests within the 30 acres of woodland my new hotel of employment occupies. The small brick country house may look rather small from the outside, but upon entering, one would be surprised to find that it's also rather small on the inside! As not to make it too claustrophobic, only 16 of us reside within the property. To the right of the front door, is the entrance gate to Layhill prison, which is nothing more than comforting to know. My bedroom features a radiator that appears to have malfunctioned to the point of being stuck in the 'on' position. This with the addition of body-heat generated by the others has made for quite a sweatbox of a living environment. With air-conditioning but a pipe dream, I have spent as little time in the Gate House as possible.
On day two, with an empty fridge and nothing but seasonings to keep me nourished, I set out to find a nearby supermarket, whilst nursing a hangover. After walking for five miles over mostly un-paved country roads, I reached Wotton-Under-Edge, which funnily enough, seemed closer when being driven there. The small market town housed a small Co-Op and not much else. One high street lay embedded in what appeared to be a mostly suburban country town. On my journey, I only stumbled across one or two small villages, and vast country land. Gone, are the monolithic billboard adverts, towering structures and the hustle and bustle of the city. Now replaced with widespread greenery, and local wildlife, some more welcome than others (Horseflies are now my sworn enemy).
This journey brought home precisely how isolated I have now become from the outside world I used to live in. On the upside, the quiet country life is comfortingly serene. A long walk outside can take you anywhere. Every day is a new adventure…at least for the first three weeks. At night, with the roads devoid of lampposts, the night sky is perfectly clear. With hundreds of stars scattered above like glitter spread across a large black mattress and the ambiance made up of the chirp of birds and the distant calling of sheep.
Although with this in mind, when I have time to think about it, I still feel a million miles from nowhere. But this year-long Stopgap for me is building towards something much bigger, and as the days, weeks, months and years go by, this brief period of isolation will seem like a quiet fart in a distant corridor, and will be reminisced by myself in happier pastures.
I'll be just fine, so long as the prison doesn't have a mass break-out…