Our guest house doors were opened on August Bank holiday this year. I’ve always believed in ‘in at the deep end’!
Our decision to move here was only made in September last year. Despite the property market it only took us only 10 months to make a complete lifestyle change. It certainly didn’t feel like just 10 months at the time!
It was actually only after a trip to visit family in Dingle, Ireland in September 2010 that we decided that we had to do something. My job was driving me crazy and my husband’s work was disappearing from this country.
We moved here from Sevenoaks in Kent where we are both originally from. We spent time living in London and a year travelling the world with the hope of finding somewhere to live. My answer was always the Isle of Wight! It still took 16 years to convince him that the Isle of Wight was the place to be.
Why is it the place to be? Well my parents ‘dragged’ my sister and I here every year ever since I can remember. One year we diverted and went to Paignton and I cried most of the time because I wanted to be in the Isle of Wight! How dare they? I was young! Getting on that ferry always had a feeling of coming home, getting back on the ferry was that feeling you have at playschool on the first day when your Mum leaves you there. It was an emotional wrench. My piano/singing teacher moved here when I was about 15. Oh, I was so envious.
The only thing I ever remember wanting to be was an Islander – ok, so that can never happen. My parents encouraged me to go to hospitality and catering college, so I spent 3 years there and you learn everything form cooking to management, advertising and marketing. (Jamie Oliver was in the year above me – and no I never met him). Then I spent 4 years working in 4* hotels in London and loved it, but money and a life beckon at that age, so I became an estate agent (a nice one).
For our first viewings of properties on the Island we drove all the way here on our ‘way home’ from Dartmouth! The property we saw was definitely a no, but we stayed at a lovely B&B, The Finches in Shanklin and the owners were an absolute inspiration to us.
I must confess we really wanted to move to Ventnor. Although all my life I thought Shanklin was where I would be. We even found a house in Ventnor and fell in love with it, but completion for 2013 was being discussed!
It was only by accident that we saw our big blue house, but I didn’t get ‘that feeling’. I am no fan on UPVC windows and doors on a Victorian house. But a second viewing and a need to make a decision before we got off that boat we agreed a price and with lots of motivation in the chain and an excellent estate agent at Hose Rhodes Dickson we completed in 6 weeks!
In the meantime we, cat included, had to move in with family and we completed while we were at a friend’s wedding. There we were sitting outside a cafe in Como City, the phone rings and we have a house on the Isle of Wight – now that’s how it’s done! Although only then did I realize that I still had to go back to work and my husband did not!!
My husband came over just ahead of the removals with his brother, while I was at work. Ever since then he starts every sentence with “If you had lived on the Island as long as I have…” Yeah, yeah, it was my idea!
So here we are and life is very different. Our builder turned up at 8.30am on the dot every day. He still knocked every morning even though he had a key. He put up with my horrendous hangover while our carpets were being fitted and my husband was on his way home from a festival!!! And no my husband wasn’t as hung over as me! No more sherry! The builder even took instructions and delegation on how to fit a shower from our plumber who had to have knee surgery half way through the job!
The hardest thing about our new life? Coming from a full on target driven, management role in England (yes I call it England) to having a husband who shuts off at 3pm (yes he gets up early, but not as early as he used to). Also having loved the Island for so long, the frustration of people in ‘England’ not realizing how wonderful it is here. Robert Thompson does a good job of telling all and sundry in every newspaper and magazine he can, but he can’t do it on his own. It’s such a hidden gem and with more people holidaying at home it would be nice to have more newcomers visiting the Island.
The best bit? The people are wonderful. Everyone we have met has been very supportive. I even have coffee every week with our competition! I love spending time going shopping for Island produce. We argue over who gets to go and see our butcher at Briddlesford! We get our veg from Lyn at Fresh Fields and our bread from Gracie’s bakery in Shanklin. We even drive all the way to Calbourne for our preserves! It’s quite a long way when you live on the Island. Sounds ridiculous when I used to drive a 40 mile round trip to work every day!
Hope for the future? That the feeling doesn’t wear off, that we will continue to appreciate the diverse beauty of the landscape and the ever changing sea and that the variety of produce continues to grow and be experimented with, that we won’t get complacent and keep enjoying it.
Let’s see how much energy there is left after our first summer season!