A 70’s baby (almost a child of the 60’s, but I clearly didn’t want to emerge until after all the Christmas drama), I grew up in a small shipyard town in the North West of England, and had a pretty standard working class upbringing. My father worked as an engineer in the shipyard, and when me and my sister started school, my mum got a part time job as a typist. We had a coal bunker, a real fire and big 70’s swirly carpet we used to play ‘crystal maze’ on. We even had a larder which was unfortunately knocked down when the obligatory late ’70’s extension was added, along with the central heating – bye bye fire. I was lucky enough to live on a street that had tons of kids of similar age, so we spent most of our free time out on our bikes and playing in the street – yes, actually in the middle of the road, and amazingly we were never run down! My best friend when I was a kid was called Sharon, and she lived about 8 houses up from me, and had one of the few houses that backed on to ‘muddy lane’, the lane that led out to the fields over the back where we used to run ferrel most weekends and summers. There were dodgy perverts hanging about then too and there was one particular ‘flasher’ who was often hanging around swinging his dinger about. We were always told to be careful and stick together and run screaming if we saw the dirty old bugger again, but we were never held back from our adventures in the fear that we may be stolen.
I am also the product of a broken marriage, another normality I guess, and from the age of 14 chose to stay with my father whilst my younger sister was dragged off to live in the beautiful lake district with my mother. Nowadays we’d have been thrown into long and arduous therapy sessions, but in those days you just kind of got on with it, and dealt with abandonment issues later on in life. This is probably why i became so fiercly independent.
By the time I reached 18, I came to realise that I didn’t really have the personality that fit into our small shipbuildng town, and in a snap decision, I was boarding a train to London to start a career in fashion – well, that was my plan, and to be honest the only plan I did have! Which is probably why things turned out differently, and instead, after a small stint doing temp work at the BBC, where I got to hang out in the bar with whoever had been performing on Top of the Pops on a Thursday night, I later somehow managed to stumble onto a pretty great career path in TV advertising.
Working in media in the late 80’s/early 90’s was almost a pretend job looking back now. The things we got away with, and the partying that went on is like an urban myth to the graduates in that industry nowadays. But half way up my career ladder, as I matured a little, and life became a teeny bit more serious, I began to I worry that I needed to see the world before I ended up being a washed up old media veteran, married with 2.5 kids (or even worse, no kids!), and wishing I’d taken the plunge to enrich my life a bit more. Therefore, with the current boyfriend in tow and at the ripe old age of 25, I chucked on a backpack and boarded a plane to Nairobi on a mission to build some unforgettable memories.
For 14 months I lived out of a rucksack, which thinking back and looking at the hoards of stuff in my wardrobe, I have no idea how I managed it. Over the first 2 months, we weaved our way through Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe until we reached South Africa. A pit stop in Johannesburg and then straight down to Cape Town where we hung out for 2 months with friends who were living there, drinking beer and eating A LOT of meat. Stomachs full and carrying an extra stone in weight, we headed off to India for 3 months to lose the weight, and more! After 3 months in India we moved up into Nepal for some trekking, over to Hong Kong, cried my way through China and danced down through Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia as far as Bali and Lombok, then back again. Eventually arriving back in London after a well earned rest back in Thailand just before Christmas 1996. I was well and truly enriched, and completely broke!
In the January I was very lucky to land a job working for a large kids tv network smack bang in the middle of Soho, which became my workplace and life for the next 13, almost 14 years. With Liberty’s and Carnaby street across the road, I was perfectly placed for spending more than I could earn and feed my aggressive shoe habit. Just a short jog to Selfridges, a hop and skip to Fenwick, and TopShop flagship store around the corner, I couldn’t be in a better place in the world (except New York, that comes pretty close).
I met my husband to-be whilst lunching in his restaurant just off Carnaby street, and not one for being slow off the mark, he moved in to my house in Shoreditch, right on the corner of Columbia Road flower market in East London. A year later we were married – 3 times (long story), 2 kids followed and 1 house move plus a realisation that with our colliding job hours we should maybe consider changing something in our lives so that we could actually spend some time together. So we moved again, this time to France. As you do.
We bought an old french converted farm house with 2 gites and mastered a plan to run a child friendly holiday business. I would run that business whilst husband fed his love for wine, and set out to start up a new company exporting and selling wines from small family vineyards to the UK. On paper it all sounded very flower chains in hair dancing round a meadow watching the kids pet local farmlife and run wild barefoot. And so here I am 5 years later, worn out, with extra sun spots to show for all that wonderful sunshine, roughed up finger nails, flat feet (will I ever walk in heels again?!), stress levels through the roof and waiting for the ink to dry on the signatures of our ‘compromis’ – in other words, agreement of sale of property. Yes, we are heading back. The grass is always greener they say, but quite frankly who needs grass!