Making the Move to Cornwall... from London

PUBLISHED: 12:49 07 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:03 30 August 2017

CWL JUL 15 Making the Move AAHcornwalldog1

CWL JUL 15 Making the Move AAHcornwalldog1

Susan Ajami and Daryn Dodge, are living the dream. In the last eight months they have moved to Cornwall, opened a new business and got engaged

A move to Cornwall often combines a desire for a better life with a stunning place in which to live it. Meet Susan Ajami and Daryn Dodge who turned their backs on corporate life for one surrounded by animals

Animal-lovers Susan Ajami and Daryn Dodge, are finally living the dream. In the last eight months they have moved to Cornwall, opened a new pet care business and got engaged.

However five years ago both were living very different – and separate lives. We were both confirmed singletons,’ laughs Susan. Before we met we were determined we were never getting hitched again!

I was at a crossroads in my life. I was made redundant from my job of 19 years running corporate hospitality with a budget in excess of £1 million for an international bank in London and I got divorced - all within eight weeks. It was a bit of a shock to the system. I knew I didn’t want to go back to life working in the City, but I didn’t know what I did want to do. My two children were grown up so I took a year off to get my head together.’

Susan then began fostering disadvantaged children and ended up with three teenagers at her home in Essex. It was incredibly rewarding and at times incredibly hard!’ she says now.

During that time she met Daryn, who was also divorced with three grown up children and they began an internet friendship.

We didn’t even meet for about nine months, but we messaged and talked on the phone and we laughed so much,’ says Susan. Once we got together that was it: a year later Daryn moved in and helped me with the foster kids – he was a rock and still is.’

Daryn has his own successful management consultancy business, but for some time had wanted to change his life. In a short space of time we had family bereavements and health scares and we decided it was now or never. We both had a deep love of Cornwall from regular visits as children and with our own children. We knew this is where we wanted to be,’ says Daryn, 54.

Last September the intrepid pair moved lock stock and barrel to a Cornish long house on the edge of Bodmin Moor with their Springer Spaniel Molly. They also began their new business Animals At Home Cornwall in April offering a whole raft of pet care services.

We have both lived very eventful lives so far and as our children are all grown up and raising their own families we thought it was time for us to do what we enjoy most, which is working with animals. We operate a DEFRA-licensed animal taxi/ambulance service for trips to vets, groomers, for house moves or more urgent veterinary emergencies. We also do all types of pet sitting and caring for animals while their owners are away.’

The couple have also invested in the first Animals At Home 4x4 animal Ambulance, a Dacia Duster, complete with air conditioning, first aid kits for animals and people, animal safety cages with special vet bed linings, a dog ramp for injured or elderly pets and a microchip reader to identify lost or injured animals.

Daryn explained: Due to the terrain, we knew that we would need a 4-wheel drive animal ambulance if we were to provide our service to all areas of Cornwall. It is essential that hills, country lanes, coastal tracks, farmland, and the moors are not an obstacle in getting to the animals and owners that need our help.’ The couple, have also spent time in a veterinary practice learning animal handling.

They have also completed animal first-aid and animal nutrition courses. They have both been overwhelmed by the warm Cornish welcome they have received and the feeling is so mutual that they have added the Cornish flag on their animal ambulance.

Local people have been so welcoming,’ says Susan. They see the animal ambulance and are full of questions and really interested in what we do. I know it is early days, but people have given us such a great reception that we really feel like part of the community.

Daryn even went down on one knee and proposed to me – and I said yes! I am not having a ring yet though as we bought the Animals At Home business, but we are planning a wedding in the next year.

We are both so happy here – we are grabbing life with both hands and we know we made the right decision to move to Cornwall.’

Susan and Daryn's Quick Kernow

Favourite beach

Rock, they say. On top of the dunes we love the different perspective from each angle. The vista of the sea, beach and Padstow across the water is really a wonderful thing to behold.

The calming sense as you walk along the beach, whilst the dogs dart into the waves gives you a “good to be alive” feeling,’ says Daryn.

There are lots of dog walkers who use this area, so there are many opportunities for Molly and any guest dog who is staying with us, to make friends and play with other dogs.’

Favourite flavours of Cornwall

The Pavilion Ice Cream Parlour in Perranporth: all their ice creams are handmade (Belgian Chocolate is Daryn’s top choice and Clotted Cream Vanilla and Strawberry is Susan’s).

But nothing can beat Susan’s memories of Hart’s Ice Cream Parlour, Back Lane, St Ives (open from 1895 to 1983). Hart’s sold the best Banana Splits and Knickerbocker Glories in the world,’ she recalls. No squirty cream in those days, just rich Cornish Clotted Cream ice cream in three or four flavours between bananas for the split, tinned mixed fruit, clotted cream and flake on top for the Glory.’

For Cornish pasties they head to Sarah’s Pasty Shop in Looe - and for a Cornish cream tea to remember after the invigorating four mile Lidcutt Valley Walk, the Woods Café is a stop not to miss. It’s the best cream tea we have found so far,’ says Susan, but you won’t want to eat for the rest of the day after one of those.’

Favourite walks

Bodmin Moor for its beauty, its peace and its tranquillity. Golithia Falls is particularly pretty and not too exerting. The short route around the Falls is an area of ancient woodland that sits alongside the river Fowey as it cascades its way through a charming valley.

The Coastal Paths are also top of their walking choices and they plan to do as many as possible.

Overall favourite thing

It is never too difficult to enter into conversation with complete strangers whilst out walking or over a pint in whatever pub you happen to be in,’ says Daryn. Having spent many years commuting on the London Underground, where the etiquette is not to look at anybody, let alone speak it’s a breath of fresh air to be able to say ”good morning” to a passing stranger without being looked at as if you are completely mad,’ adds Susan.

The Cornish dreckly’ (doing something some time in the future, but possibly never) approach is something they both have had to get used to, but they definitely see its merits!

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