Now for those of you that don’t know what Redhill is, well it is a town in Surrey, UK. 3 years ago I had very little knowledge about where or what REDHILL was, was it a hill that was Red??…
Well it has been home to us for the past 3 years, and we have now left for our trip.
So what can I say about Redhill? Well if you like dynamite you’ll be interested to know that Alfred Nobel demonstrated dynamite for the first time at a Merstham quarry, 2 miles north of Redhill in 1868. Exciting, right? It puts this area into the history books with a BANG.
Lets take this back to 3 years ago when Sassi decided to accept a job here, prior to that I had only ever seen Redhill at the train station as it came before Gatwick airport station. From googling the area I found out that it had a nickname, Deadhill… so wasn’t the best impression to get. After searching for flats around the area we came across one that was outside the centre of the Town with lovely views, and it was on a hill. So there were actually hills here, although some of the hills were actually landfills.
Overall the first impression of being in Redhill was that it was pretty quiet, and very close to lovely landscapes, so an ideal place for us as we aren’t big city people but aren’t overly keen on being in the middle of no where. Sassi moved here first for her new job, at this point in time we were engaged and the uncertainty of life prior to accepting this job was we didn’t really know what was going to happen in our lives. Sassi being in between jobs and searching for a new one and myself I was freelancing and working part time. So Redhill was a new step on our path and a little bit more certainty in our life. It wasn’t long after moving here we got married which was awesome. So Redhill became our first home together, but straight after getting married we shared our home with one of Sassi’s younger sisters Debi who moved to the UK for a university placement and needed a place to stay until she found a more permanent room in London. One bed flat with a newly married couple and a sister in-law, it was quite cosy…. But it wasn’t long until Debi left, however it was nice that we were able to help her get on her way and spend some time with Sassi’s family.
So Sassi had a job as a Children and Youth development worker in a Methodist church in the town centre, from our point of view it was a more traditional compared to churches that we were used to. So this brought challenges and frustrations mainly in Sassi’s work to begin with. This was one reason for us finding another church to go to in the evenings. So we hunted around and even tried the Leatherhead Hillsong, but it was a bit far (they soon moved away to be even further away). We then heard about a coffee shop that was also a church, they had evening services it was called the West central coffee shop and the church was called Christ Central. This became a place we would worship on Sunday evenings and started going to the young adults connect group. We were able to connect with new people in Redhill and make new friendships and the worship style was closer to what we were used to.
I was in a job I did not enjoy, well I enjoyed some parts of it but overall it was not a place that I wanted to be in, support worker for adults with learning difficulties. After we got married I swapped to the East Surrey team this proved more challenging with some of the people I supported which caused a lot of stress. Although I also got to run a media project which was one of my highlights, being able to teach and help others to learn to use cameras and computers to make videos and edit photos. I also started freelancing for a property photography company, as time went by they started giving me more hours as a freelancer with the possibility of a full time job but it seemed like they wouldn’t hire me fully until the end of the year…which was 10 months away.
We soon felt that paying out rent for a small one bed flat was something that we would like to leave behind and the new goal of buying our own place made us motivated to work towards that especially as we agreed to have Sassi’s youngest sister stay with us for the whole of the summer which would be very cramped in our flat. Now Surrey is very expensive for buying property, and Redhill is actually the cheap end of Surrey but that did not make much difference.
From searching and talking to advisors, it basically would not happen for us, all because of my ZERO hour low pay job… That was hard to hear, so the only way it would happen is if I got a new job with a salary of a certain amount. I also worked in a company I set up with friends, money wise it didn’t prove to be financially viable to stay in as with all the new responsibilities and the lack of work I was getting, I just felt unmotivated to carry on. I had a dream about seeing a door and being afraid to walk through it. The Sunday after I was at a church service, one of the Elders had an image of a doorway and fear, this was exactly what I felt and had seen, so I went up for prayer and straight after this service I went home and left that company.
So after this I was motivated to actually search and apply and write cover letter after cover letter to make sure I found something. AND I DID. I actually quit the support worker job before I started looking for jobs, so it was great to have an offer for a job in media, I then told the property photography company I was freelancing for that I had been offered a job, and they suddenly offered me a full time job with a salary…
WOW and it was actually the full amount we needed to get a mortgage. In the space of a couple of weeks we went from a BIG NO you will not get that flat to, YES you will. We made an offer on a place a lovely 2 bed flat near the town centre and it was accepted. What a turn around! God is good. So I became a full time Property Photographer. We also had help from my parents who lent us money which really helped us get that mortgage.
June 2015 a new home for us, a home that we own! Just in time for Lidia to join us for summer. To think a year ago we had no idea what the year ahead would bring us, within that year we got engaged, married, new jobs, moved to a new area and bought a flat. Things can really change in a short space of time. But the next two years brought us more experiences.
Over this period I carried on working as a property photographer capturing high quality photos of all kinds of houses around Surrey, Kent and Greater London. I have seen some amazing places while working and met a wide variety of people along the way. I also gained a promotion and learnt new skills in floor plan drawing and energy assessing.
Sassi has been able to work for Reigate church, and also set up a successful youth drop in which is an after school club for teenagers. To go from 0 to around 17 teenagers has been an amazing achievement and what makes it more amazing is that the church will be carrying this project on after Sassi leaves. In the beginning there were many weeks of no shows but it just shows a little patience and hard work will show results.
To buy this flat we had help from my parents, this seems to be pretty common nowadays with the rising price of houses. So we needed to pay off this debt and especially as we have always had that feeling of wanting to go travel. So we looked towards airbnb, (Check out our post about airbnb). We put our spare bedroom on and invited strangers to come join us in our lovely home. This experience not only gave us a helping hand in savings and paying back our debt but also opened our eyes to the world. A wide variety of people from around the world have stayed in our home and we have been able to have interesting interactions, Good and Bad but mostly good.
We decided to set up our own young adults group for the Methodist church as there many people around our age but nothing set up in the church for them to come together and grow. So we decided to leave the connect group we were part of at Christ Central. Running this group helped us grow stronger connections with others in the Methodist church. We ate together which was one of the main things we wanted to do, and did a little worship followed by discussions and prayer but we also wanted to keep it quite free and open to what God had installed for us. The group grew and shrank it was sometimes hard to get people together and it soon came apparent that running groups like this for our age group was a challenge. The issue we had was with reliability, (Read the post about reliability here). The responsibilities mainly fell on Sassi and as her contract would be ending we decided to try and move the leadership to the church for this group to keep it going.
Sassi’s youngest brother Jonatan stayed with us during the summer of 2016 a year after Lidia stayed. It gave him an opportunity to see the UK again as he came for our registry wedding but also challenged him to be outside of his comfort zone.
We actually ended up going back to Christ Centrals connect group at the beginning of 2017 which has really changed and it has helped us grow together. By going back it has been amazing to be able to pray and discuss together and they have helped us in our lives such as when our washing machine broke down and they supported us in other ways as well.
For the last part of our time in Redhill, Sassi had her mother and little sister Lidia stay with us. Sassi’s mother stayed with us for just over a week and we got to spend some quality time together, and it gave her mother some time to relax before she went back to her overly exhausting job in Germany. We did the touristy parts of the UK which was quite nice for us to see before we left the country. Lidia spent a whole month with us and it seemed funny that when we moved into our flat she helped us and now she was back again to help with moving us out of the same flat. It was great to spend time with her especially as she has had a very hard year with lots of uncertainty.
Redhill has been our home for the entirety of our marriage, it is the place we have called home and we have opened our apartment up to so many people through airbnb, friends and family. We have been able to watch the town centre change dramatically through redevelopment works that are currently going and we have also learnt a lot through our jobs. So we can safely say we will miss being in Redhill, but it is more the people and great memories that we have had, although not all of them happened in Redhill. It is just a shame that I didn’t come across any Red Hills.
Photos from the last few months and our leaving parties:
We ended up having two leaving parties one in Redhill at the church, where we were able to say goodbye to people and one at my parents home in Yateley where many of our friends came to say goodbye including friends from Redhill. We are very thankful to my parents for letting us have a party at their home and for all the effort they put into cooking and planning for it.