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LucyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 28-Jul-16 10:07:36

Unexpected friendships

It was only when author Lesley Pearse found wonderful new friends while visiting her holiday home, that she realised how much happier she could be if she left her own lonely village.

Lesley Pearse

Unexpected friendships

Posted on: Thu 28-Jul-16 10:07:36

(31 comments )

Lead photo

Would you up sticks for new friendships?

When I bought a holiday home in Torquay five years ago I wanted a seaside retreat where I could write in peace without anyone turning up uninvited. What I didn’t expect was that I’d fall in love with the place, make a whole set of new friends and find myself not wanting to go home to my cottage near Bath.

The sea began the love affair, the wilder and rougher it was, the better I liked it, and after living in a rural village where after 4pm in the winter you couldn’t venture out with the dog as there was no street lighting, what a joy it was to go walking late in the evening along the promenade. It’s all lit up like a Christmas tree even in the dead of winter, and a late walk after dinner is very good for one.

Early morning walks on a beach are a different kind of bliss too.

But it was the new set of friends which made me want to live here permanently. First I met Barry who had a small and beautiful hotel next door. Our dogs greeted each other first and Barry and I got chatting. Before he opened his hotel he’d been a butler, and his stories about that life were fascinating. But our friendship was cemented when I was very poorly with ‘flu and he brought me wonderful homemade soup, and showed what a kind and caring man he was. He is funny, wise, great company, and he filled a hole I hadn't realised I even had in my life until then. I hasten to add this is not a romance, Barry is gay, and in so many ways that is even better as I have no wish to find another relationship.

All at once I realised I had a much fuller, happier life here than I had in my old village. There it seemed I was always being asked to fork out money for some worthy event, but rarely included in anything purely social.


Barry introduced me to all his friends, who vary from hotel owners, a solicitor, a nurse, hairdressers and property developers, and before I knew it I was getting invitations to dinner, drinks, parties, theatre, coffee and afternoon teas. I even went on a fabulous holiday to Italy with Barry. All at once I realised I had a much fuller, happier life here than I had in my old village. There it seemed I was always being asked to fork out money for some worthy event, but rarely included in anything purely social. I suspect a lone lady is perceived as something of a threat!

So I decided to up sticks and move here, but as the holiday apartment wasn't really ideal for a permanent home for all the family when they visit, I found a dream property overlooking a pretty bay. It required a lot of work, but with good friends for advice, I wasn't daunted, and as they love shopping, interior design and gardening as much as I do, I can always rely on company. Another thing which I find so heart-warming about my new friends is that they take a real interest in my children and grandchildren, they love my books, and my dog! I can be myself and I feel safe and loved. That, I can tell you, is a dream come true.

Lesley's new book Dead To Me is published by Michael Joseph and is available now from Amazon.

By Lesley Pearse

Twitter: @LesleyPearse

Grannyknot Thu 28-Jul-16 10:10:53

What a lovely blog post, and you describe my dream. smile

WilmaKnickersfit Fri 29-Jul-16 01:53:10

As my family live miles apart, I think moving to where you can be with friends is a great idea. I hate to hear about people having nobody to chat to except shop assistants or the postie.

rubylady Fri 29-Jul-16 06:09:55

Oh, how envious am I that you have a gay friend. I would love to have some man in my life that has no interest in me romantically. I do have a friend, but he always wants a kiss at the end of our meeting up, making me feel slightly uncomfortable as I am not looking for a relationship just now. But with a gay friendship, plenty of hugs, companionship, love but no romance. Great.

The story is wonderful too. Many peoples dream life change, mine included. Especially the writing at a seaside property with my dog, pure bliss. I can dream, as it will never happen. smile

Mamadelou Sun 31-Jul-16 10:17:44

Yes, I would move for great friendships.

myrinn Sun 31-Jul-16 10:41:50

What a happy ending. Years ago I lived in Cornwall and after 5 years was more or less accepted by the locals (no second homes there in those days) I left because I felt sure that the world elsewhere had lots of other things to see - and I did see them but I often think about Cornwall and the atmosphere it had then. I have returned once, but prefer the "older" version. I've lived here in Paris for 40 years and have lots of friends, but then I think one can make friends anywhere, or at least as the saying goes 'some of the people some of the time'

DanniRae Sun 31-Jul-16 10:59:53

Thank you Lesley, I really enjoyed your post. My dream would be to live by the sea - as you say the wilder the better. However, it's not going to happen as my husband isn't interested in moving. I've talked about us getting a holiday home by the sea but he's not interested in that either. But I can dream........

Tegan Sun 31-Jul-16 11:23:07

myrinn; my misspent youth was spent in Cornwall [Boscastle, Tintagel and St Teath]. I loved it there and still dream about the place and the people I knew. We've just heard that a friend in the village [who also owns my dogs best doggie friend] is planning to move to where the S.O.'s holiday home is, so we're planning to spend even more time up there. Even though he had a holiday home at the other end of the village, since we moved to t'other side we seem to know far more people and, especially the beach dog walkers/driftwood collectors.

fourormore Sun 31-Jul-16 11:49:24

Friends are such a treasure aren't they!
Like so many GN members we have family, both children and grandchildren. We are lucky in the fact we see youngest son and his family quite regularly but we could be on another planet where the other two branches of the family are concerned - they are 'around' but tooooo busy!
We moved last year and were so sorry to have to leave our dear neighbour - a lovely lady in her 80's. She didn't want us to move but as we were renting from the landlord from hell she understood why we had to go.
We decided to buy our own place at last and on the first viewing of what is now our new home, we met our new neighbour another lady in her eighties. We all immediately felt a bond and she is an absolute delight. We are now living less than a mile from our old place and our two 'old bids' (as my husband so delicately describes them ( grin ) have now met each other and formed a lovely friendship themselves.
They both come to us regularly, especially when in need and both have said we are more like daughter and son-in-law than just neighbours - we love them to bits and they feel the same about us! Thank God for friendship - these two ladies will never be lonely while we have breath in our bodies!

westieyaya Sun 31-Jul-16 12:20:57

I loved reading this post. When I was widowed and downsized to a retirement apartment it was because I had lived in this village for 20 years and my son and his family were here. But, I find I make no real new friendships, have no one to go out for meals or to the cinema with, and although surrounded by people in our complex, I recognise the comment that you sometimes just chat to people in cafes and the local shop.
Now that my daughter, who lives near the sea ( which I love walking by) is soon to have a baby, I wish I had had the forethought and courage to move nearer to her. It now seems too late.

Greenfinch Sun 31-Jul-16 12:28:17

Think again Westiyaya. It is never too late.

hollystone Sun 31-Jul-16 14:47:21

So heartfelt, and I enjoyed reading this...thank you

Marmight Sun 31-Jul-16 15:01:57

it's never too late Westieyaya.
After much umming, ahring and soul searching, I have at last decided to up sticks, sell the house I have live in for 35 years and go on an adventure. It's very daunting, but I now know it's what I need to do. I haven't decided where to have my adventure yet: I have to sell the house first but it will be near to one of my 3 daughters, and hopefully still by the sea and I am really looking forward to starting again, joining 'things' and hopefully making new friends and discovering new places. Like Lesley, I now feel alone in my village. It's a beautiful, historic, seaside village, but I have just outgrown it or it has outgrown me, perhaps.
Bring it on! grin

Ranworth1 Sun 31-Jul-16 15:06:03

This is a photo of Clovelly in North Devon, nowhere near Torquay! hmm

Sheilasue Sun 31-Jul-16 15:09:50

Sounds wonderful, wish you every happiness.

PPP Sun 31-Jul-16 17:46:28

What an uplifting story!
We have recently downsized to the suburbs after living in the country and I love it. We have absolutely great neighbours who are rapidly becoming good friends. We have been welcomed into the local community and I feel more at home than I have ever felt.
So, all you lovely gransnetters who are pondering about a move, do it! Enjoy a new lease of life.

inishowen Sun 31-Jul-16 18:07:40

It's funny I should this today. This morning hubby and I came across a very run down house in the seaside town of Ballyholme in N. Ireland. We've often thought of getting a holiday home and this one is in a quiet street, just a few minutes from the beach. The garden is knee high in grass, but a strimmer would sort it out and there might be some plants hidden there. I'm very enthused about the idea. By the way I'm reading a Lesley Pearse book right now!

inishowen Sun 31-Jul-16 18:10:49

I should have said "read" this today

nanaseaside Mon 01-Aug-16 06:56:56

This chimes loudly with me. Up to 2 months ago I was planning on spending the rest of my life here in my beloved cottage.. Now after 20 years I am selling up to rent a house on the seafront in a lovely village where I know no-one. And I'll be ski-ing in Devon (spending the kids inheritance). Giving up my only security? Yes! Scary? Hell yes! Will my money run out? Maybe! Do I know what the future holds? No! (but yes I do if I stayed put and it ain't great). My son and family are 'far too busy to visit anymore' yet bags of time to visit and holiday with all the other relatives! Rejected and rock bottom I realised I had to find a way to make life worthwhile which doesn't depend on the whims of my dearly loved but frankly cold-hearted family . I miss my granddaughter terribly and I can't bear to open the door of the bedroom I lovingly made for her when she was born 5 years ago. We have had such happy times here in my cottage. I am a writer who hasn't written for ages. I have a plan to write about the bumpy ride that is middle age and grandparenting. Time to be me again. A new chapter in life. An adventure awaits... Good luck to all us grans starting over. It's never too late to get brave!

PinkWombat Mon 01-Aug-16 11:43:23

So, I'm not the only one! I moved from the Midlands to this tiny, fairly remote village in a very beautiful part of Wales to recover. My poor husband had become mentally ill and after a year took his own life. I was made redundant from my job of 10 years three days later. All our "friends" of 20 years evaporated like mist. I found that the widows of suicides are not popular. So I moved.

I'm a country girl, a farmer's daughter, but realise now I should have picked a different village, a larger and more welcoming one somewhere far from here, but I loved the views and the peace. Like Lesley Pearse, I'm asked to contribute money for causes, but never included in anything purely social. I'm a church-goer and attend services, I've tried to get to know the others in this tiny community but with no success beyond "Good Morning", tried volunteering for things but no takers, made invitations and had them turned down. I went to a village Open Garden one day and every other woman of the village was there, selling cakes, making tea, washing up. I saw from the way they looked at each other they knew they'd left me out. There's a book club, but its membership is closed, locals only, and I only found out about it from something someone let slip. They're all wealthy or local or both and I'm not, but never before saw that as a barrier to friendship. My immediate neighbours are downright unpleasant one side, and the other side are locals who've just moved a couple of miles and made it clear even before they knew me they didn't want to socialise with me, only with the rest of the village. It's like a club I'm not allowed to join. They just don't want a single woman.

I've been here nearly 10 years now and have just re-married. My husband is training in a new field of work, and as soon as possible we plan to move to the Cotswolds. I've already heard we must pick our village carefully there too!

I don't regret moving, as there was nothing to stay for and it meant I was able to meet my new husband (internet), which makes it all worthwhile. But I would suggest if you're thinking of moving have a holiday or two in the area first, study Post Office windows to see what's going on, and if it's a village you want make sure it has a village hall, a shop, a pub, and lots of friendly people, not just scenic beauty. I have friends in other parts of the country who have made new lives, new friends, and are very happy. Just check the place out first!

Auntieflo Mon 01-Aug-16 12:05:42

What a sad post Pink Wombat, but the ending seems to be a bit more upbeat, here's hoping that you find a new haven and settle happily. We are the last of the originals who moved here when the houses were newly built. All were young parents with family, and we bonded together. Now new people move in and they are busy and although we 'know' each other, it's not the same. At the weekend a family moved away and we will miss them. We are both in our mid 70's, and I often get the itch to move and downsize. The problem is that to stay in our town it would be really, really expensive to move. The new apartments are lovely, but no storage, and I worry about the costs that would incur with ground rent, maintenance etc. So we will probably stay here, as we are comfortable, can still drive and have a bus that runs to town. Still dream though.

SparklyGrandma Mon 01-Aug-16 16:36:53

PinkWombat, how sad that village sounds but it doesnt surprise me. I moved back to Wales 4 years ago and I have found it very hard in spite of joining in things, to get any social life off the ground. I think the idea of moving somehwere more friendly whilst doing proper research first, is a good idea. I am single and of course that doesnt help - people just dont want to invite a single woman aged 50++ around.
I now rely on friends from London visiting, old school and college friends too, but its still not the weekly cuppa, trips to a nearby town with company. Good luck to everyone out on an adventure!!

M0nica Mon 01-Aug-16 20:04:07

I do think that any move into the unknown, or worse still, to somewhere where you were happy once should be approached with care.

My parents moved on retirement because they lived in any area with very few bungalows, which meant they sold at a premium - but they researched the area they planned to move to very carefully before committing themselves to the move. - and the move was a great success, they found many things to do and made friends they had for the rest of their lives

My dearest friend was made redundant and decided, almost on a whim, to move back to an area where she had been very happy 25 years earlier. But there is a big difference between being 30, working with lots of similar young sociable well-paid singletons and being nearly 60, not working, and with a limited income. The area was 150 miles from where she was living and where all her friends and family lived. DH and I suggested that she rent for 6 months to see how it went, but no, she just steamed ahead and bought a house and left herself in a position where she could not afford to move again. It was a disaster. PinkWombat describes very well what my friend's life was like, but without the happy ending. She died of cancer at the age of 64 and I believe the unhappiness of her last few years contributed to both her illness and its outcome

Jalima Mon 01-Aug-16 20:32:43

We did want to move back to Devon when we retired, but the DGC are fairly near where we are now and we never made that move.
However, we really enjoy our visits back there and miss the sea - the sight and sound of it, and walks beside it, very much.
South Devon is a good area for retirement - there may be a lot of older people there but the ones we know all seem so full of life, determined to carry on enjoying themselves despite woes and ailments. It is always uplifting to spend time there.

Jalima Mon 01-Aug-16 20:36:05

PinkWombat I am sorry your neighbours are like that; I did find some resistance when I first moved to Devon at the age of 21 and I thought things had moved on so much everywhere since those days. Obviously not in your area.
I hope you will feel much happier in your next move.

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