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We may be moving to Bristol and I'm terrified!

(17 Posts)
Jimalimb Wed 16-Jan-13 15:55:44

Hi there. I'm a 34 year old doctor, married, with two young children, Isabelle (3) and Stanley (10m). I've lived in Liverpool for the past 10 years, building up an extensive network of amazing friends, crucial as we have no family near by.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are having to move for jobs and it is looking more and more likely my husband will get a job in Bristol.
We have no friends or family in Bristol so we have no idea where to start looking!
1. Houses
We will probably rent initially as I suspect it will take a while to sell ours and this move may only be for 2 years. We were looking at henleaze, westbury on trym areas. Thought please?

2. Schools
My little girl will start school sept 2014 so thoughts on infant schools please in those areas

3. Nursery
I will either be working part or full time so ideally need a nursery, my little girl as been in a lovely one since she was a year old and has flourished so I think nursery is what we want. Any recommendations and is the waiting list really up to a year? What sort of prices are people paying? We currently pay £38.50 pppd in Liverpool.

4. Socialising
Any recommendations for toddler groups esp weekends. This is the bit I'm really worried about. I have a very close network of friends, met through NCT with my first baby.
Also any recommendations for adult stuff, (ha that sounds dodgy!) I mean, book clubs, baking clubs etc. my husband paints toy soldiers and role plays so if anyone knows any one who does that........

Sorry it's a long message!
This has come as a massive blow but I am trying to be positive and proactive. Lots of people I have mentioned this to, rave about Bristol so I'm sure if this happens it will be a positive experience, it's the thought of starting again that worries me.

Chimpdance Wed 16-Jan-13 21:27:45

Hi there,
Henleaze and Westbury on Trym are both nice areas with a number of good schools (I'm in Henleaze). Bishopston is also good with Bishop Rd school being well known.
Both mine went to Ashley down school on the other side of glos rd but it is very oversubscribed so you'd have to be quite close.
I can't help with nursery as my youngest is 10 so I'm quite out of date.
The titch-hikers guide to Bristol was my bible when the girls were little and I'd definitely recommend it to help you find your way around. Both Henleaze and Westbury are villagy type places with their own high street shopping areas and church halls with lots going on.
Bristol is a very friendly place (britain's smiliest city!) so I'm sure you'll get on fine.
Let me know if I can help with anything.

kiddiMike Thu 17-Jan-13 13:58:42

There is also a new Kiddicare coming to Bristol this year! I know that they offer community rooms to be used for just this sort of topic. New mums, new to the area etc.

sociablemum Thu 17-Jan-13 18:43:28

Hi, pleased you are finding out about the local area you are moving to.
I am not originally from Bristol either, but have been here around 3 years now. I live in Stoke Gifford right by the user friendly parkway station, we were first renting in Bradley stoke area which is not far. the schools are quite good, my eldest is now 7 and my youngest is 4 and in a local nursery. I do find friendships very hit and miss in Bristol even though there are some lovely people around. There are a few busy bees group nursery's which are the better ones, but they are all different, My daughter goes to Playdays nursery in bradley stoke, and its during the school times so dont shaft you with top up charges, or minimum use clauses. I hope you have successful transition. Please message me if you would like to know more?
Kind regards

Jimalimb Fri 18-Jan-13 01:42:58

Thank you so much! It's so hard!
At the moment we are even considering me staying in Liverpool and hubby doing a house share and commuting back on weekends. sad

Chimpdance Fri 18-Jan-13 18:46:13

I'm sorry to hear you're finding the prospect so tough and I know I wouldn't be keen to move.
If it helps, Bristol is not generally cliquey as so many people are from outside and it's particularly common for people to stay after Uni etc.. Having young kids and working gives you a lot of different opportunities to meet new people.
What interests do you have? outside the kids, obviously.

Jimalimb Fri 18-Jan-13 19:56:52

Ha! Interests! What are they! In all honesty my interests have been put aside for now as still bf my ds but before kids, love skiing, diving, cinema, karaoke (!). I used to go ball room and Latin dancing and started having piano and singing lessons. Love baking. Generally love crafts. I tend to flit from thing to thing. Keen to start Zumba +/or gym as have lost nearly 4 st since my son was born and I'd like to tone up smile

mrsdutch Sat 19-Jan-13 09:58:00

hey there. I can imagine how daunting it is at the thought of moving so far away. We moved from abroad 5 years ago and I was scared too. However I can honestly say it has been the best decision we could have made. We are in Westbury on Trym on the Elmlea school side. I have made lots of friends through groups, the school and pre-school. You bump into people you know all the time. Westbury is full of families and a lovely quiet place with more space than if you go more urban. I can walk everywhere and only use my car for shopping or going to groups further afield. We have lovely neighbours. We were renting for 3 years before we finally bought and I could not leave this lovely area.
Bristol is also a perfect location for travelling further are quickly into Wales, quickly down to Devon, Cornwall and the beaches. It is just a lovely location smile
As previously mentioned, there are lots of good primary schools despite the bad rep Bristol gets for schooling. My child is very happily settled at Elmlea. Westbury, Stoke Bishop and Henleaze all have well regarded schools as does Bishopston as previously mentioned.
If there are any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask!
P.S not sure how commuting from Liverpool would be fun for your husband or'd lose the weekend together for sure..I'm not sure I'd like to be without my husband most of the week

bristolbeth Sat 19-Jan-13 10:56:45

Bristol is a lovely place to live, so close to the Cornwall and Devon areas, but also allowing easy travel to London. I can heartily recommend Westbury-on-Trym but also Southville and Clifton Village might be good places for you. All three of these places have a strong community feel and have lots of bars and restaurants within close walking distance. Southville especially (where I live) is absolutely jam-packed with young families and there is a very strong NCT presence. My next door neighbour is the chairman of Bristol NCT!

Local community centres are a great place to get to know people, and you could also get involved in local NCT branch work as a volunteer, and/or join the local Womens Institute.

Good luck whatever you decide to do, you might find it's all a thrilling adventure - as with many things its the state of mind that influences events smile

Chimpdance Sat 19-Jan-13 12:47:16

I think you will be fine. There are plenty of classes (dancing and Zumba type things) for you to get into which will help to get you out and meeting people. I happen to know there are some great singing teachers (my sister is a singer and teaches some as well).
Although antenatal classes are a good way of meeting people in the same boat, school can be just as good and, in fact, most of my close friends are from the school gates rather than antenatal class.
Bristol is an odd place as it is rather like a giant village- there is always lots going on as it is a busy city but somehow you always bump in to people you know at random places and people do go out of their way to get to know each other and say hello to strangers. I didn't realise that wasn't normal for a long time.
I hope you are reassured and that, if you do have to move if won't be as daunting.
Let me know if there is anything else you need I go about (except nurseries, where I really can't help smile)
Good luck.

Jimalimb Tue 22-Jan-13 11:57:51

Thank you everyone. Your comments have been very reassuring!
I will keep you all posted as to how things develop.

Bristolbabe Sun 27-Jan-13 20:51:50

Hi, I just wanted to offer more reassurance. We moved here 3 years ago knowing no-one but it's been great. We rented in westbury on trym initially and have now bought in stoke bishop. Schools in the BS9 area are fab but over subscribed so bear that in mind when looking for one where to live. If you look at the council website you can find out the furthest distance from the schools that people get in. I had to apply for schools as we were moving and I found this really helpful.

Initially I stayed with the kids in London whilst dh worked in Bristol and it was miserable for all involved. He especially was knackered from commuting. It's not something I'd recommend.

If you move to westbury/henleaze areas feel free to message me as I can give you details of toddler groups in the area. As someone else said, the titch hikers guide was a life saver.

Nursery wise I can recommend daisy chain in westbury park but they only take age 2-5.

Wrigglebum Sun 03-Feb-13 13:50:54

I live in henleaze and I love it here. We're not from Bristol originally but I've made plenty of mum friends here and I can't see myself wanting to leave. House prices here are pretty mad, as are nursery costs I think ( I'm a sahm but I think at least £50 a day).

In terms of schools, they are massively over subscribed and catchments are tiny. My 3 yo starts this September and I'm hopeful we'll be ok as the new St Ursula's school has eased the pressure a bit and we should get in. Other great schools round here are Henleaze, westbury park, westbury on trym, elmlea, Horfield. Most of those have catchments of less than 500m though.

There are tons of local baby groups but lots of them do have waiting lists. Sign up as soon as you arrive and maybe do some paid classes until you get a place. My elder son does Little Kickers on Saturday locally and loves it, or there's rugby tots or swimming lessons.

I have a 3 yo and 9 mo and would be happy to meet up when you come here.

yyf13 Wed 17-Apr-13 13:16:07

Hi everyone,
we are in a similar situation, except we are moving moving from Australia to Bristol. School choice is certainly not very promising, as good schools (eg. bishop, westbury park, ashley down - pls name more if you have suggestions) generally have no space left, especially by the time that we arrive.

I certainly do not want to end up with a bad school, far far away from where I live (I plan to move to bishopston, westbury park or surroundings, so that we could have a chance to get in), and only leave it to LUCK to decide, but I could not think of any way that I could change/improve the situation since we won't even have an address until Aug.

So my question is: how can a new family secure a place in good schools? (in fact I need two places as DD starting year 2 and DS starting reception). what normally people do?

My decision priority is their education. I do not mind how far to city, how difficult to get around, or how expensive the rental (but still can not afford private schooling though). Some people also suggested live out of Bristol, but I wonder how practical it is transport wise ( to work in Bristol) and if so, which town is generally considered?

P.S. I have also started a new thread today, as it is more focused on "enrolment", as I have read through the forum and get the idea about which area/suburb/school etc, but are still troubled by the school enrolment policy :-(

Bristolbabe Wed 17-Apr-13 14:41:34

Hi yyf13, thanks for your pm. I'll reply on here rather than to you personally in case it helps anyone else too.

From what I understand if you are new to the area then you get given a school place but will obviously be somewhere that have spaces. You can then go onto the waiting list for your preferred school and will jut have to wait until a space becomes available. I think the nearer you are to the school the better. Obviously the council can advise you more on this. Have you contacted them? My dc are at elmlea which we're very happy with but all other surrounding svhools, stoke bishop, westbury on trym, westbury park, henleaze, st ursulas are all meant to be very good too.

You may find that schools outside of Bristol I.e. south glocestershire are not so heavily subscribed. Bristol can be a bit of a nightmare for driving in to but it all depends where in Bristol you're working and which route you'll be coming in from.

Hope that helps.

Runoutofideas Thu 18-Apr-13 08:24:56

yyf13 - in your position I would try to find out which schools have a place in yr2 - then post your options on here for opinions! Your reception child will then be higher on the waiting list as he is a sibling. You may still have to home ed him for a while though as all the reception places will have been allocated by August. Bear in mind that he does not have to be in school until the term after his 5th birthday, so that could give you a bit more time to find a place for him - although he would miss the start of the year.

In my experience, many people in your position have to start their children at independent schools and then move them as and when appropriate places become available. Not ideal though....

FWIW I can highly recommend Elmlea, and I have friends who have been very happy with Westbury on Trym and Henleaze. St Ursula's could be worth investigating too, as, as a new school, they may have more available spaces.

GertieLush Fri 19-Apr-13 11:31:45

I can't help with schools I'm afraid as we're a little out of central Bristol but I can help on crafts! Bristol is awesome for this sort of thing. Some places to have a look at - Heartspace in Henleaze, Bristol Sewing School, there are LOADS of knitting groups, the Makery in Bath, Bristol Folk House does really interesting art, crafts, music and exercise classes.

There are some great theatres as well - have a look at the Old Vic, the Tobacco Factory. Nice arthouse cinema at the Watershed. Good restaurants - Bordeaux Quay, River Cottage Canteen, Primrose Cafe, Thali Cafe, Paintworks, Watershed, all worth a look. And museums - M Shed and @Bristol are great for kids, aquarium will keep them busy for an hour or so, the zoo is wonderful and worth getting membership - I think they have a toddler meet up on Wednesday mornings.

You'll find loads of toddler groups in both Henleaze and Westbury - Gymboree, Cairns Road toddler group, there's a lovely soft play called Portico Play on the Gloucester Road.

I was a reluctant wife of a doctor relocating to Bristol but I love it now. I hope you enjoy it here.

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