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Moving to Clevedon, Somerset - thoughts please!

(40 Posts)
lulupeg Sat 01-Mar-14 18:53:34

Hi there,

We currently live in SE London (and enjoy it a lot!) but have had a strong desire to relocate to Clevedon since 2011, mainly for reasons of 1. be near coast 2. proximity to family (mine) 3. slower, cheaper way of life. But anxious to leave diverse, cosmopolitan life behind...

Son would be Y1 or Y2 and daughter would be almost ready for school nursery. Can anyone comment on the character of the (primary and secondary) schools? I'm not too worried about results or academics, more the feel/pastoral side. We are currently in London and the school my son is likely to go to is very liberal, laid back and informal. He also loves learning outdoors so do any of the Clevedon schools have Forest/Beach school status?

Any general tips at all re living in Clevedon hugely appreciated! I lived in North Bristol growing up so roughly know the area but don't know much from young family perspective. We are pretty liberal and not massively mainstream so am worried about (sorry!) small town mentality when we leave London! Love Bristol itself but don't feel there is sufficient reason to leave SE London for Bristol and the coast really is a big draw for myself, DH and I think DCs too. They are currently 3.5 and 1 by the way and if life ever calms down, a third is definitely on the cards in a couple of years.

Help much appreciated!!

lulupeg Sat 01-Mar-14 18:54:41

Sorry meant to say, our rough plan is to make the move in 1 or 2 years time, not sending my 3yo into Y2!!

MyAngels Sat 01-Mar-14 20:06:44

I live in Portishead, next door so to speak, and so wanted to say hello. I have friends and family in Clevedon and go there regularly, but haven't any direct experience of the pastoral side of the schools, I'm afraid.
From what I can see in local publications etc, there isquite a bit going on for young families in the area, and I see lots of them at the good play area by the seafront (Salthouse Fields) when I am there.
I had heard good things about the outdoor activities at the Folly Farm nursery in nearby Tickenham a year or two ago, but nothing more recently I'm afraid.
I find Portishead fantastic (although its growing very fast, putting a bit of a strain on services (schools, GPs) - Clevedon issn't growing as fast (in fact the lower town centre is more in decline in the last few years), but they know that and are trying to boost the place more recently.
It certainly won't be remotely as cosmopolitan as SE London, but hopefully a good change for you.
Feel free to ask anything more specific - I'll try to help if I can.

lulupeg Sat 01-Mar-14 20:51:14

Thank you so much MyAngels - I don't know much about Portishead (and do like slightly older properties and understand from my mother than Portishead is mainly new builds?) but am also open to considering it as well - would love to hear more especially if it's more on the up/vibrant compared to a more declining (if gorgeous!) Clevedon. What are the schools like and how does Gordano (?) compare to Clevedon comp thinking further ahead? Had also heard re the pressure on services but kind of used to that (especially GPs) in London.

Thanks again!

givemeaclue Sun 02-Mar-14 17:39:58

Hi op

we looked at various places in north somerset a couple of years ago. Clevedon was our favourite but we weren't able to get the right type of house we wanted within the timescale we needed to move in. There are some fantastic houses there, you will be really delighted by what you can get for your money in comparison to London. When we were looking schools were all good or outstanding, a couple were attached to churches and one was quite small (around 100 kids). secondary ,looks onto fields etc.
cant comment on pastoral or forest/beach school.
One house we saw was being rented by people who had relocated from London, they had decided to move nearer bath as it was not quite cosmopolitan enough for them/not enough going on.

Portishead - there are lots of old houses - there are a lot of new ones being built too but plenty old ones (this one is 14th century)


in between portishead and clevedon - thatched cottage

Grade 2 listed cottage (Victorian)

Gordano and Clevedon Schools are both outstanding
Backwell is also outstanding
Churchill also very good with outstanding sixth form

good luck!

lulupeg Sun 02-Mar-14 19:13:20

Thanks very much that is so helpful givemeaclue smile where did you end up yourselves? How have you found it and do you recommend your new location?

The schools sound pretty impressive and really I think my best bet will be to go up one day and visit a job lot of primaries and secondaries!

Thanks for all the links, I can't get them to work on my Iphone so will look later on the laptop but much appreciated! And I had looked briefly at portishead yesterday and noticed the selection of non-estate homes on offer.

Clevedon is beautiful, housing stunning (realistically we would like a 4/5 bed 30s/victorian with decent enough garden) and really does seem a nice size of town with cinema and shops seeming good - definitely under no illusions that it will be cosmopolitan/London-like but guess want to be reassured that we will make friends (I'm pretty friendly!) and there will be Guardian readers!! We live in Forest Hill and in the week and weekends we do a) local things b) outdoorsy things and c) friends things - so Clevedon will offer us enough hopefully in terms of coffee shops/woodland/beach and hopefully through the schools we will make some friends to have brunch with or whatever!

I'm being very cliched and asking all the £60 million dollar relocation questions! Would love to hear from anyone who has moved into Clevedon from far away.. And also definitely opening eyes to Portishead and the differences therein.

Thanks so much for thoughts so far, more welcome!

givemeaclue Sun 02-Mar-14 19:37:33

Just to add, having viewed many houses in Clevedon, the Victorian properties generally have very small gardens. 1930s have bigger ones. Generally the gardens aren't that large but there are exceptions.

MyAngels Sun 02-Mar-14 20:37:52

Its true Clevedon has a better selection of older houses, but its new build explosion was in the 70s/80s, while Portishead is having its now. The links givemeaclue gave you show the best old houses Portishead has to offer at the moment (and they've been available for a while..)

In comparing Clevedon and Portishead, I find that Clevedon is a town of two halves - "upper" Clevedon (cos its up the hill) has the nice houses and smarter shopping street (selling nice clothes and homewares, nothing really practical, but with a few nice restaurants and beauty salons), while "lower" Clevedon (cos its at the bottom of the hill) has the estate agents, supermarkets, and A LOT of charity and discount shops. You can tell the difference. The large Victorian houses in Clevedon have often been turned into flats (because they are massive)

Portishead only has one high street with a nice mix of useful shops and new tapas bars/coffee lounges. And Portishead has a marina, which is filling up with nice yachts...

Portishead's seafront is in a separate "Lakegrounds" area (with boating lake, tennis club, open air swimming pool (in the summer), play area, cricket pitch, cafes), whilst Clevedon's seafront is along the road, but it does have a lovely pier, and some nice Georgian houses.

The Curzon cinema in Clevedon is fab we go when we can, and I often bump into my Portishead friends there, so its used by the whole area.

We relocated here from Reading 6 years ago, but it wasn't a proper relocation as DH was brought up in Portishead, lived in Clevedon as a young man and has roots here.

Either town would be fab - please come!

lulupeg Sun 02-Mar-14 22:11:13

Wow thanks so much again, you've definitely given me food for thought and made me seriously consider Portishead both of you! Just looked at all the house links and some beauties. Think our budget would be around £500k and looks like we'd have options in either place and would rent until the ideal property came up... Have ridiculously never been to Portishead despite growing up 25 mins away! Must definitely check it out on next trip to parents. Only reservation is that I found an old forum (Portishead People) and an old BBC comments page which revealed some animosity between old and new inhabitants... Do you think we'd get tarred with a 'down from London brush'? As I said we are not 100% mainstream, both public sector, lefty politically, attachment parents to our kids - pride myself that I can get on with most people but equally am true to myself and husband the same.

This is all such interesting information and am most appreciative - and excited about making the move in a few years... MyAngels - sounds like you much prefer the town to Reading and the lake grounds facilities sound fabulous, like there's a real buzz in summer?

Thanks all! xx

beaglesaresweet Mon 03-Mar-14 00:24:00

From superficial impressions, Clevedon is very old-fashioned in attitudes, but tbf I visited in the daytime when the older generation was about. Portishead is on the trendy side but this is only recent so not sure whether the majority of population is especially funky <they are not>.

Really they are both small towns away from it all grin, after SE Lon it's bound to be a shock but you may gradually find lots of advantages too (with kids) and of course the fresh air, relaxed pace!

givemeaclue Mon 03-Mar-14 09:18:16

Hi, both towns have lots of newcomers and people from a wide geographic area including London. Lots of new people attracted by the new builds so you wouldn't face any animosity on that score.

But I agree with previous poster, the populations of both are not funky or alternative types and I don't think there is a massive amount culturally going on in either town, both feel quite staid and possibly a bit dull if are you used to London.

Portishead has a high proportion public sector workers as the police headquarters is there.

I wonder if somewhere like southville in bristol mightn't suit you better, lots of public sector workers, alternative culture, loads of attachment parenters, theatre, dockside, tobacco factory, parks, easily walk to museums etc. quick hop to the countryside but you are in the thick of it all rather than being a bit more out on a limb at the coast. Secondary school more tricky though currently

shouldbedoingtheironing Mon 03-Mar-14 11:59:16

I really like Clevedon and we were very close to buying there a few years ago. We didn't have the budget for a house in upper Clevedon though and we were a little concerned about the GCSE results for Clevedon Secondary school (might have improved since then). The commute into Bristol is a bit of a pain and DH didn't fancy doing this every day either.

I agree with givemeaclue about areas of Bristol that you might really like too - Southville and Bishopston are both really lively and interesting places to live. Again, if we had the budget we would live around those areas like a shot! The only problem is Bristol secondary schools - things are changing but not very fast and this has kept us out of the city whilst the children are younger in any case.

Good luck with your house hunting smile

MyAngels Mon 03-Mar-14 12:20:14

I suppose the decision is whether to live in the city and visit the coast, or vice versa. We visit the dockside in the city a lot, and its fab, there are a lot a families about there, so there would be loads to do, and it certainly is alternative, not like Clevedon and Portishead, which are more "small town" but safe and surrounded by green spaces and coast. It depends on where you want to spend the majority of your time, and where you would prefer just to visit.

To answer your question, the Lakegrounds is busy in the nice weather, but only in a families having a picnic/BBQ, playing ball games, riding bikes kind of way. Except when the raft race is on when its packed, and when the weather is nice, the outdoor pool is packed too and the sunset over the channel is smashing. I could go

Don't underestimate the secondary school situation in Bristol, unless you can go private - although I know its a while before you need to worry about that too much.

lulupeg Mon 03-Mar-14 13:46:49

Wow I'm so glad I posted, lots of your comments represent the chatter in my head about this issue and I am sharing the thread with my DH as you've hit several nails on the head with regard to my hopes/fears about the move. The comment from MyAngels about living by coast and visiting city and vice versa is really key I think and one I need to mull over. I lived in Bristol (Whiteladies Rd) in my student days - loved it but wouldn't want to live there or even Clifton Village now - and Thornbury in S Gloucestershire growing up, and definitely couldn't live there, nice as it is/good schools etc.

The Portishead facilities in summer sound wonderful and a real lifestyle choice... But yes, am drawn by the alternative scene in Bristol, I love the city but had kind of convinced myself that it wasn't for us (when pre-kids we always talked about moving back to BS8 area...). The secondary schools issue is a big one but possibly that will change as the city has shifted so much already... Private school definitely not on the cards for our two.

Seriously thanks so much, this is a fascinating thread to me and I do appreciate everyone's thoughts and collective brain power.

givemeaclue Mon 03-Mar-14 13:51:03

Op what are the reasons you couldn't live in thorn bury again? They may well apply to cleavedon or other coastal towns as well.

lulupeg Mon 03-Mar-14 14:14:18

The reasons I wouldn't want to live there are:
1. I literally know so many ppl (by sight, well, not that well but by name, know their mum, they taught me, I went out with their brother etc) that it would seem so weird to live there and be surrounded by my childhood memories iyswim? I know lots do that but I guess I've been used to relative anonymity for too long!!
2. It's a bit boring to look at (apart from high street which has improved a bit, castle, stream etc) and most of the houses are not my thing... Plus again what I grew up in so feels slightly claustrophobic to move back into smth similar...
3. Landlocked! No coast, so I'd rather be in the city or by the sea than a market town.
4. Conservative (same could be said for Clevedon or Portishead I'm guessing).

I think Thornbury is very sweet and I enjoyed growing up there for the most part - except for the loooooong irregular buses into town - and enjoyed Bristol lots as a teen. But never feel I could live there again unless possibly much older (even then not sure). My dad calls it ToyTown and I agree with him!!

shouldbedoingtheironing Mon 03-Mar-14 14:51:40

Yep - we also go into Bristol at weekends for our 'fix' of culture and liveliness but wouldn't want to live there because of the schools, high house prices and horrendous traffic! We live in a small village and I'm bored rigid by it most of the time (no Guardian readers in sight here!) Great schools and a safe, gentle pace of life for the kids keep us here for the time being grin

I totally understand your reasons for discounting Thornbury (I know it well) but I guess there's always a compromise to make somewhere isn't there? Or if anyone does know the perfect place to live please speak now!!!

I do think upper Clevedon is a really lovely place to live and seems to be lots of young families around. They did have a 'bring your baby' session at the Cinema in Clevedon in the daytimes which I thought was a great idea - not sure if still running?

givemeaclue Mon 03-Mar-14 18:09:36

Op have you already got jobs in the area? As commute to work could be a factor

beaglesaresweet Mon 03-Mar-14 19:06:36

OP, same question about Clifton - why not, I'm just curious? It's expensive and not alternative but you did say you used to like it. If it's because you now stringly want an alternative area, then Bishopston/Gl.rd is very good, personally prefer it to Southville but that has its points too.

lulupeg Mon 03-Mar-14 20:45:07

givemeaclue: no, jobs not sorted. Husband a teacher and I''m a SAHM but do have a small freelance income and a part-time PhD stipend so our plan would be to just make the jump and live on that plus supply work for a time while we found our feet, unless a great opportunity came up prior to moving. We would be downsizing hopefully so it should be possible to do this and have a contingency of savings or income from sale/renting out of London house.

beagles: I actually just had a quick look at Clifton and the prices are not as mad as I feared, rest of Bristol seems to be catching up a bit, but I think yes, seeking a more alternative vibe, Clifton feels still quite sloaney and transient due to posh student population or older/staid for those in established in family homes - unless I'm out of date with this? Also now my weekends are spent in the woods and at DIY stores rather than clothes and hot chocolate shopping in Clifton Village ;)

shouldbedoingtheironing: yes totally re compromises.... plus the general headf* of making these mammoth decisions for yourselves and your children as they are now and in 2, 5, 10 years time and beyond!

beaglesaresweet Mon 03-Mar-14 21:28:44

ah ok, you mean your tastes changed. I thought you meant the area has changed a lot in your eyes since you lived there. No, it's exactly that - sloaney, and students around, though that's more clifton village. Up Whiteladies lots of medics/young profs, nicer and friendlier overall but not edgy. Bishopston would be good for you though, and Southville.

beaglesaresweet Mon 03-Mar-14 21:31:15

But I do find the village and Leigh woods over the bridge very picturesque and charming, out of all bristol areas. It's not as prim and neat as Bath but still has amazing architecture and scenic green hills.

Russianred Mon 03-Mar-14 21:48:39

My husband and I are both teachers and relocated to Bristol from SE London 3 years ago (with a 1 yr kid and a 3 yr old) so I feel well qualified to comment! We looked in lots of places and had day trips to Clevedon. It is too parochial for us for the day to day. Lovely, but not conducive to family living when you do not want to be reliant on cars. We are in north Bristol, near-ish to Gloucester Road and we love it. There is so much to do here and if you are used to Forest Hill, it will feel like a home from home, but better. Clevedon School is considered a beacon for outstanding, innovative teaching (I have received lots of whole-school training from teachers there) but there is a massive wealth of excellent primaries near us.

beaglesaresweet Mon 03-Mar-14 21:54:30

agree, Gloucester road is like Forest Hill but better (and MUCH fresher air)!

MoDiddly Sat 08-Mar-14 14:39:50

I live in Clevedon and commute to work (another teacher!) in Bristol. Brought both my children up here - it's a great area for sports clubs (football, cricket, rugby, sailing, dancing all flourishing) and Beavers / Brownies etc. Lots of park spaces and the cinema is brilliant.

All schools have ups and downs and as happens everywhere reputations stick so it's worth taking a look around them for an up to date "feeling" - currently I would say Yeo Moor is on an up and Mary Elton on a down but all could change in a year or two.
Nailsea Secondary has an amazing building and resources but teaching is not as dynamic as Clevedon. Clevedon really deserves its outstanding status at the moment (a couple of iffy departments) but great pastorally and building its community links.

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