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might be under my bed gathering dust and yes, the most up to date thing I know about media is at least 18 months out of date BUT, somewhat frustratingly, I didn’t manage to leave myself behind.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.