Shropshire Star

Talking Telford: Finding new ‘firsts’ in a town that’s become familiar

When you’ve lived somewhere long enough, you can fall into the mental trap of thinking there’s nothing new for you to do there, no more ‘firsts’. No spots you haven’t already visited, sights you haven’t already seen, or food you haven’t already tried (it always comes back to food for me).

The Wellington Orbit building

Without even really realising, I had been approaching this stage with Telford after just five and a half years - though in fairness I only grew up in Newport, in Telford and Wrekin’s outer orbit, so spent plenty of my formative years here.

The realisation only properly dawned on me last week after a companion suggested an evening at the Orbit, Wellington’s own independent cinema. Perhaps shamefully, I’d walked past the Orbit a hundred times and never been in.

The anticipation built to the point I got a genuine thrill stepping into the screen room. Here was an all-new Telford experience: popcorn, a big screen and stretching your legs from cosy seats in hallowed darkness, all in the heart of Wellington and without putting money in the pocket of a multinational monolith. My first visit to the Orbit certainly won’t be my last.

The trip to the cinema seemed to kickstart a week of firsts - I managed to cajole one of my oldest and dearest friends, who has recently seen the light and become a fanatical runner, into trying his first parkrun.

I’ve banged on about Telford’s parkrun enough in these pages - about its varied and forgiving course, the dedication of its friendly volunteers, and its dinosaurs - and it lived up to the hype on the day. The conditions were immaculate, my friend loved it and we both started our weekend with the kind of smug satisfaction you can only get from running 5k before the rest of the world has its shoes on.

In a less exciting first, I bought a postal order for the first time this week too. Presented with a bill and the options of paying by cheque or by postal order, and having never owned a chequebook, I resisted the urge to call my mum for help and instead resolved to get on my bike and learn something new.

I headed to the Post Office in Dawley with my best puppy dog impression and delivered myself into the arms of the helpful staff, who talked me through the process and made it all seem so simple. Every day’s a school day.

It’s almost New Year’s Resolution season, for those who partake - what kind of first might you treat/subject yourself to in 2024?