We’ve made lots of friends here. It’s absolutely fantastic!

Back To News
7th Jul General

“We weren’t getting older, the neighbours were getting younger!”

Joan and her husband Bill wanted to live life to the full without the worries of maintaining a six bedroom, family home.

Bill and Joan both grew up in The Fens of Lincolnshire, and got to know each other on the bus, going to school.

“As a schoolgirl I played county hockey and county cricket, so when my time came to decide what I was going to do, I went off to PE college and became a PE teacher. Bill came up to Manchester University. When we went home we’d meet up for a coffee and it developed into more than just a friendship. He stayed up here in Manchester and I was back in Lincolnshire teaching but when we got married, I moved up here to join him.”

The couple married on 5th April 1961.

“We came to Didsbury and we rented at first and then we lived in a small semi-detached house but with three lively children, we decided it was time to move. We actually bought more than we could afford – a large Victorian house in Didsbury.

“When I had our children, I stopped teaching but not long after moving into the house, the mortgage rate went up to 14% so I had to go back to work. As it happened, a little primary school at the end of the road needed a part time teacher and they were very happy to take me on. When they asked me to stay on full time, I became a Primary School teacher and loved every minute of it.”

A number of factors influenced their decision to move.

“The fact that it was a large house, the fact that it needed repairs. We had a bout of thefts, burglaries… and that becomes a big worry when you’re elderly. We found that we were wondering if we should answer the door if the doorbell rang late in the evening, little niggling things like that.

“We were aware that there were two people in this huge house and was that fair? When you’ve got young families who are house hunting? We moved in with our young family (our youngest was three when we moved in) and we were in that house for 46 and a half years. We loved it but all these reasons made us think about moving.

“We also have a rather unusual situation in that our three children all live abroad so we haven’t got the support that a normal family would have, which was an added reason for considering this move.”

Joan and Bill’s daughter lives in New York, their first son lives in France and their younger son lives in Melbourne in Australia.

“The joy is, we go over there for five weeks rather than the odd day, so it’s really lovely. But we haven’t got their support here. I mean if anything desperately bad happened they would be here in next to no time but it’s that day-to-day contact with them that we haven’t got.

Bill & Joan moved to The Chimes in December 2019.

“The fact that we were going away a lot was another big consideration in our decision to move here. The house was locked up and we always had that little worry that it would be broken into while we were away but in this sort of situation, we know that it is being looked after and if we want something doing, such as the flowers watering or if we’ve forgotten to switch something off, we can ring our lovely management team up and ask them to pop in. It was a big consideration, a big point for moving.”

“We had been thinking about it for some time when a little leaflet popped through the door advertising The Chimes. We came and had a look and it made us think hard about things.

“It made us think about the support we would get here. We didn’t have to find new friends as we would if we were moving to a smaller home in a new neighbourhood. Here, we move around the building and we are surrounded by our new friends and neighbours every day and that’s much easier. It helped us to make that decision.

“When we announced that we were thinking about this, there was a big hooray from our children. I think it took a bit of worry off their shoulders. They were thrilled with that decision.”

“I think I was more keen to move than Bill. Bill isn’t as fit as I am, and it was becoming my responsibility to make sure that everything was ok. I noticed the guttering, for example, and then if anybody needed to go up a ladder, it would be me. That sort of thing.

“I was the one who pushed hard to come, but actually when he saw the place and we sat down together and talked about it carefully and went into all the pros and cons, he came along with me. And since he’s been here, he says it’s the best thing we ever did! This has worked out very well for us.

“It’s a really big decision. We don’t know how many years we’ve got left and you’ve got to make the most of those years! We asked ourselves ‘Are we doing the right thing? Will we fit in? We’re going to move in with a lot of elderly people – will that make us more elderly? Will we miss younger people? All these things came into consideration before we moved here…but we still voted in favour of coming.

“It was absolutely the right decision. You walk out of your apartment and you’ll find within seconds, somebody to chat to and there’s nothing better than that is there? Just having a good old gossip!

“Whereas, if you’re in a little house, you have to knock on somebody’s door or peer over the fence to see if they’re in the garden to get that opportunity. Here it just happens all the time.

Joan and Bill chose a three-bedroom apartment.

“If there hadn’t been a three bedroomed apartment here, we wouldn’t have come. I sew a lot, I do a lot of patchwork – I need my ironing board, my sewing machine and boxes of material. Bill loves reading and likes all his books around him, so he has his man cave and then the rest of the house is communal. We love it. It’s great.

“Bill is a linguist. He speaks French, Spanish, Italian and a smattering of German. One resident here, Franca, is Italian and they often have a chat together in Italian. I think that’s good for Bill but it’s also good for Franca.

“We’ve made lots of friends here. It’s absolutely fantastic! We’ve got our friends back in Didsbury too and already we’ve had one or two here, onto our patio. They love it.

“They’re very envious of us here – it’s a lovely, modern apartment and we don’t have any worries. Take gardening, for instance. I have an apartment with a lovely garden in front of it which the gardener comes and manages but I can put my little cyclamen blubs in. We go around dead-heading, but we haven’t got that major responsibility anymore. You know, you can back off if you don’t feel like it today, you haven’t got to do it and that’s lovely. When our friends are still digging away and the weeds are still growing, we’ve got our Josh who comes and takes up all the weeds or blows the leaves away. That’s brilliant!

“We felt we were short of snowdrops this spring so we planted some. We can do things like that. I take cuttings off the penstemon for instance, and I say to Josh ‘I’ve got these cuttings, they’re rooted, where can I put them?’ and he will pop them in for me or show me where there’s a space. It’s great fun and I haven’t got the overall responsibility of the garden, so it’s just a superb arrangement. The gardens are lovely here.

When the UK went into lockdown during the Covid pandemic, the homeowners at The Chimes adapted to the new rules.

“When the rules permitted, we had tables outside and we had little tea parties in the afternoon. We made sure that people who were elderly and perhaps on their own came and joined us, and it worked really well.”

During the third lockdown, when rules had tightened and it was too cold to meet outside, Joan wanted to find a way to maintain the community spirit.

“We decided to produce a newsletter in order to help people feel more connected. We got together with Adam, our manager, and agreed it would work if residents were willing to send in articles and snippets of information.

“We have puzzles, poems, historical things, favourite recipes and quizzes. You always have that little nucleus of people who contribute. It’s called ‘The Chimes’, not The Times!

“We put a weather forecast at the top for the week and we recommend television programmes that people might be interested in. The management team help us with the production of it. They’re just brilliant!”

“The best bits about living here are you’ve got people on hand. Every corner you turn, there’s a chance of a good gossip. I love the coffee lounge. The free coffee machine attracts people, and you’ve immediately got a group chatting together.

“A book club was established before we got here so I joined that straight away and we’ve just had our first meeting since the easing of the lockdown restrictions.

“Before lockdown we had quizzes, bingo, theatre visits and restaurant visits. We went to the cinema when the operas were live streamed from Covent Garden and The Met. That sort of thing happened – ‘Oh, we’re going to the opera, do you want to come?’. That’s what life’s about isn’t it, enjoying yourself.

“Here, you can have your privacy. You have your own apartment. You can stay there whenever you want to and you can be on your own… but you also have the alternative, if you want it. You’ve got lots of people around, lots of activities, lots of fun. I think having that choice is such a big thing and you can have one choice one day and the other choice the next day. It’s a perfect situation. I can highly recommend it!”