Ashley here! As some of you may be aware, I went back to my home city of Worcester at the weekend to take part in the Worcester 10k race - it was great to have my family out to support me! I asked Sam and a couple of my closest friends, Iva and Jake, to come along so that I could show them where I spent my childhood growing up until I moved to London when I was nineteen - 15 years ago! I can't quite believe that it has been so long that I moved to this amazing city...
I still remember packing up all my bags and squeezing them in to the car, setting off down the M40 and not looking back. My Dad was from London so I knew the city well and had always said I would move there when I was a 'grown up'. I first settled in Wood Green and had 3 jobs, working from 8am - midnight most days! That first year was exciting and exhausting in the same breath! Being young and naive I was filled with ambition and dreams and immaturity, making lots of mistakes as anyone in their early twenties does. At times it felt like London was not being kind to me (of course I blamed the city!) but as with most people who arrive here and never leave, I fell in love with London at the same time I met and fell in love with my fiancé Simon (my story with Simon will be saved for another email - or 10!). London is this amazing, vibrant place of opportunity and I am so grateful for that day I moved here back in September 2002. I have never looked back...
But, the older I get, the more I begin to appreciate where I am from. Some would say quite different to London, Worcestershire is a county that is quintessentially English with gorgeous countryside views, an historic cathedral and a famous sauce! It is peaceful but joyful at the same time and being back there this past weekend, showing my closest friends the places I knew and loved as a child, reaffirmed how lucky I was to be raised in such a wonderful part of the world. As a child the most important thing is to have a loving family who care for you and support you (which I fortunately had - stories for future emails!), but I think your surroundings are just as important, they are where memories are made, foundations are laid and dreams take place in, even 15 years after leaving!
Today I am grateful for Worcestershire, my hometown of Droitwich Spa and my home city of Worcester. You helped raise me so that I could go to 'big, bad London' and hold my own. You helped build my character to give me the courage to be successful and learn and grow and find myself and actually see that London is the most amazing city in the world. London is the place I met my wonderful fiancé, found my best friends, created my career from scratch and learnt to be happy - in body and mind.
London is home.
But Worcestershire, you my friend, you will always be 'home, home'.
Sam and Ashley
P.S. We love hearing from you! So, tell us, what does your home town mean to you?
For Body * For Mind * For Life