Because of the very limited choice of jobs locally, I ended up looking to nearby areas and before I knew it, I was making regular visits to Manchester and looking for jobs there. To cut a long story short, I eventually got something, but I knew that in the short term, I'd have to commute between Chester and Manchester every day for work, until I could find somewhere to live.
This meant getting up at stupid o'clock in the morning in order to get a train to Chester station so that I could get a shitty, slow, bumpy old train (AKA a Pacer) that would eventually get me to Manchester in good time for work. The real fun would be at the end of the day, when I'd have to try and get back to Manchester Piccadilly as quickly as possible, so I could get the next train, otherwise it would mean waiting another hour for the next one.
Sundays turned out to be the worst, as I'd have a 2 hour wait for the train home, owing to the tradition of transport services on Sundays not allowing for the vast amount of people who work on said day. It really annoys me how such services only really cater properly for Monday-Friday 9-5 office workers, but that rant is for another time.
Each way, this train journey takes around 90-100 minutes, so every working day would include around 3 hours on a shitty boneshaker that was much better in its original form as a bus. Add to that the additional time at train stations and I was pretty much spending most of my free time on trains, at train stations or asleep. It was not ideal.
It was getting to the point that I was worried my Instagram account was going to become a boring selection of photos of train stations and trains, which is a bit of a silly thing to get worried about when you think about it, but there was very little I could actually do during the bits inbetween work, so taking shitloads of such photos and selecting the most interesting ones to share was one of few ways to relieve the boredom, so I tried to be as creative as possible.
Sometimes, I would be rewarded by some lovely views, or unusual sites. The only downside being that it would usually have passed by before I could take a photo, or the ride so bumpy (fuck Pacers, seriously) that it would ruin the shot completely.
Finally - as I was starting to lose my sanity - I finally found a place in Manchester to move to, just as my one-month target was coming up. If I'm honest, I actually found it harder to get a place this time than I did when I was in London, although I did end up in some dodgy/shitty situations down there before I found a place that was decent (including one place, in which it turned out the live-in landlord was not the executive of a storage company as he claimed, but was actually a drug-dealing, child maintenance-owing shithead who kept asking me for more money). Also, rent is substantially cheaper, up here. Well, everything is compared to London...
Anyway, as all the various reference checks took place and I played the waiting game, I found myself having to book a hotel in Manchester for a couple of nights, due to industrial action on the railways. It wasn't exactly ideal as it was money I needed to save, but it did mean a couple of nights of not having to run for a train or getting up at shite o' clock in the morning. During my stay, I also got final approval for the place I wanted, so there was finally an end in sight to the long, bumpy commutes.
The only annoying thing now was to sort out moving my stuff into the new place. As it stands, I've done two trips with a suitcase, messenger bag and overnight bag full of stuff, which is not exactly a fun and easy task, even though my new place is right next to a train station. It's actually proving harder to move all my stuff from Chester to Manchester than it did moving it from London to Chester. Chances are, I'm just going to have to find someone with a van and hope they're genuine and not expensive. Ho hum, etc.
And that's where I'm up to now. I'm now a Mancunian, I guess. It's all good but it's also weird, given how different everything was this time last year, but things change, stuff happens and that's life. I love my new place and I'm settling in nicely, although I can often hear the shitty Pacers crawling past...
A new chapter has begun and I have no idea what it will bring.
Seriously though - Pacers are shit.