Although hailing from ‘up north’ and having spent most of our working lives overseas, Anna and I already felt the Wychwoods to be our spiritual home as we had close family in Shipton for more than 20 years. Most Christmases and many ‘home leaves’ have been spent here and having made the decision to return home during 2020, we had been house hunting for several years.
On Leap Year’s Day last year, we finally found a cottage we knew was perfect for us and agreed the purchase with the delightful vendors there and then.
We returned home to Nigeria the following week as the pandemic was really taking off and thanks to that country’s track and trace system, we heard that one of our fellow passengers tested positive for the disease. For what turned out to be 11 weeks, we were in isolation.
On 23rd March Nigeria locked down completely. With my employment contract expiring at the end of that same month we didn’t know how or when we would be able to leave the country.
I was fortunate to be working for an excellent employer who worked diligently to find a way to evacuate us. On 1st June, the company flew four of us in their Gulfstream jet on a virtually cloudless six-hour flight back to Europe; it was an experience never to be forgotten.
But our departure from Nigeria was tinged with sadness as it was impossible to say goodbye properly to any of our friends and colleagues. And then arriving in the Wychwoods during lockdown meant we couldn’t really say hello properly to either family or new to-be friends; we had to self-isolate but all hospitality was still closed.
Which is when we were saved by the kindness of strangers. We were put in touch with the owner of a home in Milton that was unoccupied at the time and, not knowing us from Adam, they allowed us to move into their home for the first two weeks after our arrival. It was an act of incredible kindness and generosity for which we will always be grateful. And now that those homeowners have returned to Milton, we are very happy to count Amanda and Martin Clarke as new friends. Thank you again to them.
We are now happily installed in our new home in Shipton and have been welcomed by lovely neighbours and friends old and new. We knew that the Wychwoods would be a lovely place to live and that has very much proved to be the case.
Malcolm has now taken on the role of distribution coordinator for The Wychwood Magazine – thank you!