I left Northern Ireland in 2003 to move to Bournemouth, Dorset, England. I had previously visited Bournemouth in 1994 on a family holiday, but my reason for going this time was to live, work and study. I had lived in Northern Ireland all my life and not experienced life in a different place for more than 2 weeks, so I felt like a change. While working in a local butchery (in Ballyholme, Bangor) I started a part-time course at Ards Tech (Newtownards) which I passed and this got me into university. For some reason I chose Bournemouth, probably the fact it had a beach and a football team drenched with Northern Irish stars over the years (George Best, Colin Clarke, Jimmy Quinn) and so I was off. Little did I know, I’d fall in love with the place almost immediately.
I spent three wonderful summers working down on the beach while I lived there. I worked selling ice creams, coffees, burgers etc while going out and getting drunk at night with people from nationalities that ranged from Guinea to New Zealand to Spain to Poland. Bournemouth has a lot of English language schools, and I met many different people from varuious cultures just through living and working in Bournemouth. I spent my winters working in a shop in nearby Poole (and for a time in an East Cliff Hotel) and also studying Public Relations at Bournemouth University.
The added advantage of having a beach and pier, coupled with the fact that there is an abundance of bars, pubs and clubs certainly made me feel more and more at home every day I spent in Bournemouth. It is an easy town to settle into, become a part of and enjoy yourself. If partying is not your thing, then it’s not for you. I made a lot of friends in Bournemouth, some who I will gladly have for life (Jody, Neil, Dan, Gemma) and acquainted myself with the local ways whilst blatantly shoving my Northern Irish isms down everyone’s necks.
The first week I arrived I went to watch AFC Bournemouth with my mates Austin and Steve, and that was me hooked. For the first time I had an English football club to watch and support every week within budget and zanyness. Eventually I became a season ticket holder, got myself an AFC Bournemouth tattoo (to accompany my earlier Northern Ireland one, obviously), started going to away games and became infatuated with the Cherries. Saturday afternoons at Dean Court (or as commercialism would have tell ye, The Fitness First Stadium) became a way of life.
Such is my passion for football it was essential for me to find a team to follow. As I kid I’d liked Tottenham, Liverpool and Wimbledon at points, but now I had a team to support every week! Up the Cherries in all departments!
I also dated a few Bournemouth girls over the years (Emma, Lauren, Kitty) but generally found the ladies rather stuck up and unwilling to dedicate any of their time to such an insane culture hungry Northern Irish man with nothing dreamed of but a smile! This I would say, along with uneducated chavs are the only two things I do not like about Bournemouth. In many ways, I could see myself living or settling there for good if and when life takes me.
If you get a chance, visit sunny sunny Bournemouth and be ready for a party…
Bars Visited – Pretty much all of them.
Bars Tried – Pretty much all of them.
Transport Used – Yellow Buses, Wilts n Dorset Buses, Trains, Aeroplanes (Hurn Airport), Cars, Taxis, Seafront Trains.
Nationalities Met – Northern Irish, English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Belgian, Algerian, Guinean, American, Costa Rican, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, Chinese, Japanese, Libyan, Belarussian, Estonian, Polish, Latvian, Italian, Venezuelan, Colombian, Brazilian, South African, Albanian, Czech, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Sri Lankan, Botswanese, Iranian.
Strange Currencies – British Pounds and Pence/Sterling.
Where I Lived – Lansdowne, Springbourne, Southbourne, Wallisdown, Ensbury Park (Nomadic Times!!)
Languages – English.
Jobs I Had – Hotel Barman, Shop Cashier, Seafront Assistant, Seasonal Supervisor, Theatre Assistant.
Favourite Thing About Bournemouth – The international appeal. You will meet people from countries all over the world.
Moving Moment – In January 2004 I made my presenting debut on FM Radio! (Nerve 87.7 FM)
Key Song – “Boscombe; Back of the Net!”
FACT – In a recent survey by First Direct Bank, Bournemouth was found to be the happiest place in Britain with 82% of people questioned saying they were happy with their life.