April 2020 marked my 30 year anniversary of moving up north and to Kendal. It feels like a lifetime ago and can’t imagine living anywhere else. I have lived here longer than I haven’t.
So how did this Oxford girl end up living up North. When I was 16, I met Adrian who became my boyfriend. I worked with his sister and she said “you should meet my brother who is in the RAF” I did and the rest was history. He was in the process of leaving the RAF as he had damaged his knee, Originally a Yorkshire man, he decided to move to Chipping Norton where I lived. After a few months he was yearning for the hills, the Cotswolds are not well known for their mountainous terrain. We discussed it and decided to move.
After my GCSE’s I had planned my life, A levels, Uni, but much to my Mothers annoyance I decided I had enough of education and took a job. The lure of money got me and being a very headstrong 16 year old. When Adrian suggested moving, I was young and in love and didn’t give it another thought. The furthest North I had been was to Crewe to see my grandparents. I didn’t even know where Cumbria was!
Adrian had left before me to go to his parents in Scotland, I followed with a rucksack nearly as big as me. Petrified getting the coach to London and then to Scotland on the over night bus all on my own. I do remember an old couple taking pity on me and making sure I was ok.
With no real plan, we hitch hiked to the lakes and lived in Keswick for 2 weeks. I was smitten with the my new home. The live in job was not all it was cracked up to be so a move back to Scotland to wait for our wages. Wages through and hitch hiked again, this time to Junction 35, as our lift left us we were stood on the bridge. What next? So we tossed a coin as to whether it would be Sedbergh or Kendal? Seemed like as good an idea as any. Luckily Kendal won, sorry Sedbergh.
I started working at Farrers Tea and Coffee and stayed there until a couple of years ago when we started Penningtons. I am so boring, I have only had 2 jobs my entire career. Adrian found a job which he stayed in until we divorced in 2003. It all feels so surreal looking back remembering, not having any money, living on love.
People always say it’s ok for you, but it took about 2 years to feel properly settled. I had always heard that northerners were the friendliest people and salt of the earth. That wasn’t my first impressions, I remember going home from work in tears as my work colleagues had been horrid. Not liking a young enthusiastic person. When I got married at 19, they changed, maybe because I was now a grown up? Who knows? I hasten to add I have met some very lovely northerners since those early days.
Looking back I cannot believe I was married at 19, it was so young, too young. But everything happens for a reason, if i hadn’t married then I wouldn’t have met Dave etc etc. I do regret not living my life before I got married, when all my peers were out drinking and probably shagging around, I was in housewife mode. I don’t regret moving here and I love my life in the north. Every day I am grateful for living here, seeing the changing season in my adoptive county. When I left my husband, my mum asked me if I was moving back home? I was 29 and my life is here. The answer was a big fat NO, my marriage was over but my love for the Cumbria, well that’s one that has got me bad.