Making the move
PUBLISHED: 09:49 15 October 2013 | UPDATED: 09:49 15 October 2013
A chance meeting with television presenter Fern Britton was all it took to convince former Barclays Bank Communications Manager Julie Jones to give up her life in County Durham and move more than 400 miles south to the small North Cornish market town of Wadebridge.
Julie was visiting Cornwall in February to understand if she wanted to immerse herself in the Cornish way of life for the summer, when she bumped into Fern Britton and got chatting about the potential for a new life in Cornwall.
“I’d just downloaded Fern’s book ‘Hidden Treasures’, about a woman who puts her previous life in London behind her, and moves to Cornwall to immerse herself in a new life,” says the 53-year-old.
“Quite by chance, I bumped into Fern in Padstow, and we got chatting. She kindly invited me for lunch, and our subsequent conversation made me realise that a move to Cornwall could be the right one for me.”
Julie returned home, knowing that her decision had been made; she was indeed going to spend summer in Cornwall – her own ‘Cornish Adventure’, if nothing else.
However, before Julie decided to sell up everything in her home town of Darlington, she took the wise decision to rent a property, for the summer.
She says: “The house that initially brought me here, and helped me make my decision to stay, was Number Two Pilots Cottages (twopilotscottages.co.uk), at Hawkers Cove, just outside Padstow. You only have to see it to fall in love with it. Its location is idyllic; you can swim in the sea direct from the garden, with amazing views towards Daymer Bay and Rock, simply stunning. I’ve since become very good friends with the cottage’s owners.”
Julie continues: “I’d got nothing to lose. I’d taken early retirement from Barclays Bank after a career spanning 29 years, joining straight from school at the age of 16, and had tried a few different things, hoping to find something that inspired me.”
Julie had spent her early years in a small terraced street in Darlington, County Durham, moving to the other side of town when she married, but has no remaining family in the North-East.
Sadly, Julie’s marriage had ended in divorce, after the loss of the couple’s child in infancy. Julie’s voice changes as she describes the loss of her daughter, Lucy, and the effect this had on her life and marriage.
“She would have been 22 this year,” says Julie, “I’d had the perfect pregnancy, and birth, but Lucy was only three-hours old when she died. The cause of death was recorded as a diaphragmatic hernia.”
I’m amazed with the honesty and frankness, with which Julie speaks. “We tried for another baby afterwards, but a miscarriage followed, and then a breakdown, after which we finally divorced.”
Instead, Julie threw herself back into her work. However, putting her career first, took its toll on her personal life, and when she was given the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy, Julie decided it was time to think of number one.
“I knew that nobody was going to knock on my door and offer me a new life, I knew I had to go out and find one for myself. I’d simply been existing. I’d gone to work every day, and returned home every night to an empty house, with not much else happening in between.
“I love walking, the outdoors generally, gardening and networking, and life in North Cornwall now allows me to do all that.”
Julie has thrown herself into her new Cornish life. She’s met some of the crew from the ITV drama Doc Martin which had recently been filming in Port Isaac, made new friends, spent some magnificent summer days swimming in the sea, and joined The Point at Polzeath Golf Club (thepointatpolzeath.co.uk).
As a complete novice, she has been having lessons from the pro at the club. She says: “The golf club is very friendly and also serves great food and hosts special foodie evenings, which anyone can attend, there’s no need to be a golfer. One of the most popular is ‘Fizz and Chips’, which offers a choice of fish cooked in a variety of batters, washed down with a chilled glass off fizz.”
“The club also boasts a landing strip, where light aircraft regularly fly in, to enjoy dinner and a round of golf. Idyllic!
“My new life in Cornwall is all about finding contentment and happiness. Some of the things I’ve done are completely out of character for me, but I think a lot of that is because I was stagnating in the environment I found myself in.
“I’m now concentrating on just living life to the full and seeing what happens.”
After spending a short time helping out in the Tourist Information office in Padstow, she’s now putting her business skills back to good use with specialist luxury holiday homes property company, Unique Home Stays (uniquehomestays.com). The company specialises in holidays and short breaks for discerning clients looking for something special. The business has been featured on Caroline Quentin’s ‘Cornwall’ programme.
“I have always kept myself receptive to opportunities,” says Julie. “I think I always knew that I’d eventually find a job that would inspire me to return back to work. However it had to be with a like-minded professional organisation, a business that held the same values and high standards as my own. I do love to work, for its sense of achievement, buzz and purpose that it brings to my life. One of the best things about this part of the world is that everyone is so friendly. It has a great community feel and it’s a far more laid back way of life.
“I’ve achieved my dream of relocating to a part of the country where I love to be. I’d tell anyone thinking of making a change to their own life, that they’ve got to have the courage of their convictions and just go for it. To live the life you love you have to take an element of risk.
“You can’t discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore,” says Julie. n