A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

And just like that, 3 years, 3 months and 19 days in St Albans came to an end. 

By the end, we were drowning in cardboard boxes and had given away all our furniture on freecycle; I felt like every day was just furiously packing without actually making any progress and I was like sweet jesus will this ever end. There wasn’t a lot of time for getting overly nostalgic. I had moments; weepy moments as I walked through the market and went to our favourite pub for the last time. But I also had a certainty that it was the right time to make the change and so I powered on through. 

About six months into our relationship, when we were stretched out on his bed one lazy Sunday afternoon, Gary first mentioned living together. I was living at my parents in Bedfordshire and he was living in a shared house in London. We would spend another six months umming and ahhing about where and when and what we could afford until one night in February, just after our one-year anniversary, I decided that we should just get the heck on with it. We decided on St Albans and looked at a fair few flats to rent but it was the one with the rickety spiral staircase overlooking the cathedral that drew in this hopeless romantic. It was hidden just behind the high street and surrounded by trees and cafés. Out the back window, the Hertfordshire countryside stretched before you and out the front, the cathedral dominated the view. It was surrounded by the constant sounds of the city and the bells. We moved in on 1 April 2016. 

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans
 A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans
A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans


The green front door opened straight into the small open plan living/kitchen area, the poorly constructed bathroom was straight off the kitchen and there were two very small bedrooms – one being just about big enough to squeeze in a double bed. We furnished it with a mismatch of furniture from our former respective homes and we filled it with joy and life for the next three years. 

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans


Cue montage. The view of the cathedral, framed by different colours of the many trees, changing depending on the season. The smell of chestnuts wafting in from the Christmas market. Sunny weekend mornings walking through the market. Our super friendly neighbours, Andy and Steve. Spontaneous trips to The Pudding Stop. Many cosy evenings, Sunday roasts and summer afternoons in the garden at the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. Makeshifts BBQs on the terrace. Homemade pizzas spread across the coffee table. Cinnamon buns and almond croissants on a Saturday morning. Promotions and new jobs. Cosy Sunday afternoons and drunken dancing in the kitchen. A little Christmas tree popped up in the corner. Christmas lights twinkling throughout town. The summer food festival. Picnics in the park. The yearly pub crawl with friends. The constant sound of church bells and the sounds of the town on a Saturday night. Fresh flowers from the market. An abundance of Lush bath bombs. Typing away in cafes on a Friday afternoon. Sooooo many candles. Regular trips to the Odyssey cinema. Friends and family crammed onto our one sofa. Channel 4 news in the background as dinner bubbles on a weekday evening. Sunsets in the park. Cat sitting. Drunken evenings in the pub where we planned our future. Picking out an engagement ring. Walking through the centre of town in a wedding dress. Driving home and seeing the cathedral on the horizon. That inexplicable feeling of home.  

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans

A Flat With A Spiral Staircase, St Albans


There was no one reason as to why we chose St Albans to set up our first home together but, despite the endless impracticalities of the flat, I have never been so sure we were ‘meant’ to be somewhere. It was the right time to go but, when we were finally packed up and I stood alone in the empty flat, and the finality of it hit me; I felt slightly heartbroken. But life goes on, and a new home was waiting for us. So I left our keys on the kitchen worktop a la the final episode of Friends, before heading out the green door and down that spiral staircase for the final time.