Jane reflects on leaving a large home, and starting afresh in a new cottage in Bournville Gardens.
Jane, how long have you been living here?
I only moved here in May. I had a lot of trouble selling my last house. It took me a year, it was a bit worrying. Anyway I got here.
Was that local?
Yes, on the Bournville Village Trust. A four bedroom house. I lived there for 20 years.
How did you come to hear of Bournville Gardens?
When you get to a certain age, you get things shoved through your door. And it just looked tempting. So I came, had a look and immediately decided. I didn’t mess about. It was just a question of selling the other one.
So what attracted you?
Well, my husband died 8 years ago. So I had to downsize really. And I didn’t do it for altruistic reasons but it does take a huge load off my family. It means that they know I’m safe here. I’m very lucky with my health at the moment. But it’s good to know that if I get ill, it’s all here, 24 hour care. You just pull a little string.
How did you find downsizing?
You’ve been married for a long, long time and you do build up a lot of possessions. On my computer I made a document called ‘Up for Grabs’ and I circulated it around my large family. All the things that I knew I wouldn’t have room for here. It was lovely. You know, one of my grandchildren asked, ‘can I really have your collection of elephants?’. So much nicer, because I knew what pleasure it was going to give.
Would you say you feel at home here?
Yes I do. And I really am very thrilled with the whole place. It’s unfortunate that there’s a bad outlook at the moment, the view from my house is a building site. Otherwise, it’s just brilliant. Everybody is very friendly. And being in a cottage away from the main building gives me a certain independence, which I like a lot.
What makes you feel at home here?
I think everybody being so friendly. It’s also nice and comfortable. Friends who come to see me are always a bit amazed at how sort of spacious it is. I’m afraid, some of these places for retired people can be cramped and rather gloomy.
With regards to the community, do you feel you’re part of it?
Yes, I think so. Everyone is extremely friendly and I do join in with quite a few things. I’ve taken my extended family to Sunday lunch over there at the Bistro, three times I think. On Thursday night, all the women go over and sit round and talk. I’ve also been to a poetry performance. They have films in the main hall and a lot of exercise classes. And quite a few people go to all of these things.
What do you like most about living here?
Well, all the facilities over there. See if you’re on your own, as I said I have been for 8 years, whole days can go by and you don’t see anybody. You see all the discussions about loneliness don’t you? And some people maybe don’t mind that, but I’m a bit of a sociable person.
If the weather’s bad, you can go across to the Bistro, have a cup of coffee and chat to whoever’s there. I love doing that. You can choose if you want to keep yourself to yourself. But I like a bit of sociability.
Are there any downsides to living here?
One of the things that is slightly difficult when you’re in a situation like this, is that people are going to die. When you’re in an ordinary house in an ordinary place, every now and then someone dies. But here this is regular, as you’d expect. You’ve got to adjust your way of thinking. It’s no use getting too upset about it. It’s worse once you’ve got to know people a bit better. But there we are, that’s life.
Would you make the decision to move here again?
Yes, definitely. I just feel very fortunate to have been able to afford this. When you first mentioned it, you said luxury cottages. Well they’re not really cottages, but they are luxurious. Very, very good fitments.