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.
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.