Fitting into college life as a Mature student took a huge amount of adjustment.
Learning new specialist painting skills like imitating woods, oak, burr walnut, pine and mahogany, as well and all styles of marble was difficult. Woodcarving was wonderful. Gilding was hard. Using tools I did not know even existed. I also loved the study of architecture and to this day still love looking at buildings. Projects seemed never ending and there were many occasions when I felt like the village idiot, I always seemed to be the last to produce a piece of work.
What college life taught me is that I am a slow learner, I work well with my hands and once I mastered the skills I could produced good work.
Living on a daily basis with fellow students, we were bound together with a passion for the subjects we were studying and work was all that mattered to us. My smart wardrobe never consigned to the back of the wardrobe, whilst leggings and old jumpers were the order of the day.
College was pure escapism and whilst I lived in this new world I soon realised just how unhappy I had been. The social life, parties and lunches were surface living what was lacking was the real depth of a good life. Everything in the marriage became difficult and taut. The gap was widening between us and going to college had highlighted the differences. I knew it would come to an end and decided that at the end of the two years I would plan a different life. I was so wrong. Everything came to an abrupt end within 9 months and from that point there was no turning back.
I found myself in another home, working in a café at the weekends, without transport and the only way to get to college was by pushbike. 8 miles there and 8 miles back, come rain or shine.
Whilst riding around Hilsea lake making my way to College, the heavens opened and I was soaked through and started to cry. Then starting to sing ‘ Oh no don’t let the rains come down..’ I was sobbing and singing. Out of nowhere an elderly man on a bike came along side me. He joined in the singing and made me smile. We got to the end of the lake and he turned to me and said ” You will be alright my dear, I promise you”. On the blink of an eye he disappeared. I just stood there, soaked to the skin and did not have a clue what happened to him. What I did know was I would be alright. I have never believed in ghosts but for that one moment in time, he was my ghost.
Soon after, there followed every possible worst nightmare associated with impending divorce. It was not difficult it was hell on earth. College kept me sane. College became my refuge.