For the love of language Written by Nazima Abulkhairi, English Tutor

Published on September 22, 2023

Spring Wood, Ipswich

Dear Ipswich, I love you!

“A Fond Farewell”

As I begin my countdown of five weeks left within my beloved Ipswich, I look back to this now teacher having most of her childhood education in Ipswich, being a rarity of a Stokie AND Chantry pupil! I look upon my schooldays with a smile; highlights being taught by Sir Bobby Robson’s wife Elsie (Yes, she was the one who taught me how to spell a very important noun; I Put Some Water In Charlie’s Hat’!), being in the inspirational Faysal Mikdadi’s English lessons and having the multi-talented Steve Wooldridge as sixth form head.

I had my very first Saturday job in a supermarket where the Stoke Park Asda stands now … moving onto the iconic Debenhams where I met some amazing colleagues including the bubbly Karen Hales (RIP). Even when moving away to university, I would always return to my ‘Summer jobs’ in the then bustling high street chains, notably helping in the transitions from Chelsea Girl to River Island and the establishment of the local branch of WH Smith.

I have only relatively recently discovered the welcoming Hive within the multicultural mix that is Norwich Road, widening this British Pakistani’s Ipswich experience for the good.

For 22 years my teaching posts, then my marriage, took me out of Ipswich but, with Mum still living here, I was back at any excuse! Then it was time for, a now single Naz, to take a deep breath and re-enter her hometown. Supported by the helping hands of both Lighthouse Women’s Aid and Survivors In Transition, I was well on my way to recovery. I was now equipped with the freedom to re-kindle old friendships and immerse myself in everything on offer.

With my art and poetry blooming by now, the creative in me was enticed into the many groups dotted around the town; notably Kim Trotter’s ‘Future Female Society’. I have thoroughly enjoyed trekking far and wide to beautiful parks and buildings steeped in fascinating history; ‘Heritage Open Days’ being a firm favourite! I have only relatively recently discovered the welcoming Hive within the multicultural mix that is Norwich Road, widening this British Pakistani’s Ipswich experience for the good.

Whenever in need of a tranquil lunching spot, my ‘go to’ became St Mary Le Tower churchyard; a welcome oasis of calm within the hubbub of the town … closely followed by the wonderful waterfront; the simple pleasure of walking along the quay, reading all the boat names. Another recommended haunt of mine has to be the hidden Spring Wood, where I championed their wildlife’s cause by becoming a Toad Patroller for a couple of years!

For my creative side; there was a ‘pinch me’ moment when I came ‘full circle’ with my art last year; I was one of the lucky winners of the ‘Ipswich Jubilee Art Competition’, rewarded with my collage being displayed on the Cornhill, forty years after, as a pupil, I was joint winner of local and regional ‘Schools’ National Co-operative Arts Competition. My poetry has been supported by Radio Suffolk who have been kind enough to give my creations regular airplay. Their ‘cheerleading’ of local talent has been second to none. There was a pivotal moment for me when I actually made my ‘open mic’ debut here in Ipswich; well where else?!

So a BIG thank you to Ipswich and everyone within this great town who has been a part of my ‘new life’, post-2016. My hope is that I have made lifelong connections that will continue to thrive, despite me living in a new county, inshallah.

I think it is apt for me to ‘sign off’ with the last few lines of my latest poem ‘Onto Pastures New’, which references my imminent new chapter, as I prepare to move into a new county with my fiance…

‘… I have followed the Ipswich buzz, dipping into an array of overlapping circles and tribes, relishing every taste and flavour on offer and relishing the friendships forged amid blissful memories …

But now I prepare to take my place upon the freshly mown lawn to dance in the sun before hovering over an orchestra of vibrant gerberas, wild roses and swaying sunflowers on the way to my new hive, that is ready and waiting with bounties of golden nectar to share and savour

Hi honey, I’m home!’

Nazima Abulkhairi
English Tutor

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