So here I am in Exeter, over 250 miles south of Preston and while both cities have some similarities (similar size, both Fairtrade Cities and both near estuaries full of wildlife) I'm already noticing differences. After arriving and unpacking yesterday I went for a walk along the river Exe as it runs through the city. Bigger and faster flowing than the Preston canal there was lots of new wildlife to be seen. Gone were the sparrows, moorhens and ducks (although I might see them on another visit) and replacing them were swans, herring gulls, grey and pied wagtails, and a heron. There were still blackbirds and black-headed gulls but the highlight was watching two cormorants fishing and swimming around. I've never seen that on the Preston canal!
As well as the changes in wildlife I've got some lifestyle changes to adapt to in my first few weeks. I've got no car and there's no TV in the house I'm renting a room in. Both good changes although only short term until a permanent home is found but it will be interesting living in a house with no television (for the first time in my life) and very refreshing not to have the option of driving, no more excuses of why this time it's ok to drive. It's a great reason to snuggle up in the dark evenings and try some new things, and rediscover some old ones. I'm looking forward to finishing a very old crotchet project, learning a bit of a new language and doing lots of reading I've been wanting to do for ages but never quite doing it. All thing I need no electricity for, except to light the room.
I didn't know a lot about my new housemates when I arrived but I think I've stumbled upon a good group. Almost all vegetarians they've spent the weekend learning how to make a compost toilet, or going for foraging walks, or working on the allotment. There's homemade jams, breads and lots of books on nature. I think I'm going to be learning lots of new green things over the next month of so!
As well as the wildlife and life at home there's a new city to explore. It's nice to know that Exeter is a Fairtrade city (like Durham and Preston where I've lived before) and a quick internet search shows lots of places to buy Fairtrade goods locally. I'm happy to find a Co-op within minutes of my house and according to the internet there are at least six other places to buy Fairtrade within minutes too. Hopefully I'll get a chance to hunt out charity shops, local produce markets and restaurants, wildlife in local parks as well as much more over the next few weeks. Who needs a TV with so much to do on your doorstep, and that's before you discover Dartmoor, the Avocet Line (a special train route that shows off the Exe wildlife) or the Exeter Green Circle!