THE term end of an era gets tossed about a little too often - but last night definitely qualified as one.
Me and my friends have said good bye to a house that shaped nearly a quarter of our lives.
Moving home is nothing out of the ordinary - but this was no ordinary home.
We arrived there five years ago, a bunch of fresh-faced students barely out of our teens.
We left as anaesthetic nurses, journalists and film editors. Some are in serious long-term relationships. Others are involved in politics.
I left with a career I’d never even considered when I went in (plus a few extra pounds and a sweet beard).
As people left over the years, others came to fill their places.
The house became known for its revolving door policy - a gateway for Sheppey boys.
Every time one person left, another from back home would take their place - a seemingly inexhaustible supply of fresh faces from our friendship group that amused and intrigued others. I left once and returned.
In all, seven of us (and one excitable Hastings lad) used it as our stepping stone and floors and sofas became sleeping and living spaces for passers-through town.
The hard graft of moving out and cleaning up the house (I’m pretty sure it was this tough being part of a chain gang) put paid to any sentimental thoughts there and then.
Locking up for the final time was sad, but the fact it was the end of an era didn’t hit home until I helped my friend Ben load his things into his makeshift home.
When we said goodbye I found myself standing in an empty street , dark except for some street lighting.
There was something fitting about the scene - think Sam turning off the bar lights in the final episode of Cheers.
I’d even carefully picked the music to soundtrack my drive home.
As I zipped along the motorway I thought about how much our lives had changed since we first arrived.
I couldn’t help wondering where we’ll all be in the next five, as we head into our early 30s.
Staring into a pitch-black motorway in front of me seemed a fitting metaphor for the start of new, exciting and unexpected things.
It gave me a renewed optimism for the future.
So here’s to Claremont Place and all who stayed in her, and to whatever lies ahead.