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The last word.

Here we are, just 2 years since the fateful holiday when we decided to jack in our London lives and move down to St Ives to run a guest house. July 2010 feels like a lifetime away and there’s something poetic about this last blog being published on the second anniversary of the first one.

I recently found myself at an impasse: it was either blather on with this blog publishing every couple of months yet really knowing that I don’t have anything more interesting to say, or I could call it quits, finish with some final words of wisdom and go out with a bang.

The thing is…

I don’t really have any.

Words of wisdom that is.

In all the craziness that the last 2 years has brought I haven’t one phrase, one thing that sums it all up. I don’t want to write an ‘author’s acknowledgements’, a tribute to all the people who have helped along the way; as much as that might be nice for people involved to read it’s pretty boring for everyone else.

Nor do I have a ‘top tips’ for starting your own B&B – JFDI (Just F***ing Do It) was the best advice I ever got and you can apply that to anything.

I guess the one thing that took me completely by surprise, despite it being blatantly obvious to everyone else, is that you take yourself with you wherever you go. Yes my stilettoes might be under my bed gathering dust and yes, the most up to date thing I know about media is at least 18 months out of date BUT, somewhat frustratingly, I didn’t manage to leave myself behind.

When I left London there was definitely a part of me that thought I would automatically change with relatively little effort on my part. Change – not into the country bumpkin that I suspect I’ve become – but change into someone who is more liberated, possibly more mysterious, definitely quieter, less bound by the trappings of the Western World, more spiritual (and I’m not even sure what that means – but I would learn!).

This has not been the case.

I don’t offer this thought nugget as some mind-flashingly Eureka moment or even as something particularly original, it’s more a passing thought – a little snigger at the ideas I had when this all started. I’d be lying if I told you that when I thought about leaving London I didn’t think I could leave a lot of my baggage behind me, that there wasn’t a part of me that saw it as an escape from stuff that I’ve had a tendency to struggle with. I genuinely thought I could literally ‘pack up my troubles in my old kit bag’ and then chuck it in the ocean.

However when I packed up my little flat in Bethnal Green I absolutely remembered that Pandora-like bag. It travelled all the way down with me and was the first thing I opened when I arrived in St Ives.

I have made amazing friends over the past year and Danny and I are now (very) happily married with a working and personal life that fits together pretty darn well all things considered. Yet those new friends would have everything in common with old friends; they haven’t met a ‘different’ Lee, a more ‘considered and thoughtful’ Lee, a ‘less prone to hysteria’ Lee, a ‘quieter / knows when to keep her mouth shut’ Lee – they’ve just met Lee, the same as I ever was.

It’s kind of liberating in a way… makes you think that anything is possible provided you find a peacefulness and acceptance within yourself: So whether you’re a B&B owner, lawyer, financier, vet, teacher, designer – living in London, Paris, Tokyo, the outer Hebrides, Birmingham, Leamington Spa, Reading, Truro… well it’s all irrelevant, it’s just what we do and where we live, it’s not and never will be who we are.

I guess that’s what I’ve learned and if I’ve one real bit of advice for anyone who is thinking of changing their life completely it is this:

You can’t escpae  life by handing in your notice and disappearing into the country. Life doesn’t really change unless you do and a move is not necessarily a catalyst to that.

Not as articulate or as quote-worthy as Aristotle but that’s all I have to offer.

I’m not trying to put anyone off; just be sure that your ‘fantasy move’ is for the right reasons not the wrong ones as you may well be disappointed.

I do know that I’m darn lucky that I LOVE living here and I LOVE this job, consequently the fact that I’ve barely changed is of little relevance.

Thanks for the support and just as importantly your company over the last two years. I look forward to seeing you here at Little Leaf someday where no doubt you will find me panicking in the kitchen or chatting guests into oblivion in the breakfast room.

Bon voyage.

Jeni says:

Hi Lee,

I wish you would continue your lively blogs! We all do so enjoy reading your pearls of wisdom in your signature tongue-in-cheek style!

It was lovely to experience an amazing stay at yours and Danny’s guest house last summer and hope to do so again one day.

Meanwhile, congratulations to you both and hope you enjoy a lifetime of happiness together!

Best wishes,

Jeni 🙂

Sarah says:

We’re so proud of what you’ve done. Moving to st Ives has really ‘made’ you. Lots of love xxx

Hi Lee!

Well the blogosphere is much less rich without you Lee! You are a great writer.

So glad we met in person at Little Leaf and hope things continue to go well with you and Danny and the business.

God bless

Helen Chaloner says:

Lovely thoughts Lee! So glad it is all working out well for you – well done & look forward to seeing yo in st Ives sometime soon. Hxxx

Michelle says:

Bye bye blog, I’ve loved reading you… and I will probably re read the old entries again. Glad you haven’t changed Lee – I totally know what you mean, I’ve moved and have a very different life to my old one but I’m still ME. I can’t wait to see you sweetie xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Holly Cookson says:

Lee. Two words. YOU ROCK.

I am glad you haven’t changed – I wonder whether life will ever mean we meet again – but the Lee I remember, who I met when we were both a bit down on ourselves and our lives, well she was brilliant and funny and oh so witty and sparky and bright. I am very glad a life change didn’t mean the colours got duller or the pitch was deadened. Lee, as I remember her, brought life and joy and fun with her, and if you’d have asked me, I’d have said that’s what you have in that Pandora’s bag (or box?) that you take everywhere with you.
Take care,
Holly x

Julia says:

ahhh that’s so lovely Lee – love the JFDI comment.. xx

Mark says:

Oh dear…. this is the first post I’ve read; pity it’s the last one. I must have missed some good reading.

John says:

fare thee well. It’s been emotional.

Tressa says:

A fabulous last post and what you say is so very true! Glad you have settled into the St Ives way of life. Good luck and best wishes for the future!

Alyson Reay says:

I love this article, and I am so happy that I am going to find the ‘old’ Lee, the same as you ever were, when I come to visit you in your new life at Little Leaf.

Angie says:

Congratulations on your first year! I loved reading your blog and honest take on ‘jacking in life’ in the city for a new life beside the sea. Thank you for sharing your personal journey and I really look forward to coming to stay with you one day in the near ‘summer’ 🙂 Happy adventures for year no. 2! x

Chris Andrews says:

Wow, and you say you don’t have any words of wisdom.

All I can say is I’m very happy you’re happy, and I’m glad you haven’t changed, but I miss you in London.

Media’s loss was St Ives’ gain.

Chris x

Ann Patey says:

Ill miss your posts Lee. I’ve enjoyed reading them so much, congratulations on your success and long may it continue. Xxx

Gill Williams says:

Thanks Lee – I have a big smile on my face after reading your blog (as always on such occasions! Please don’t stop the blogs! Hope to see you both before this year is out. I’m thinking we’ll have a radiant Indian summer this year, so perhaps then would be a good time to come!

Best wishes, Gill

Hi Lee, a lovely post, very thought provoking. We’ll have to come and see you sometime soon. x