Retreat House

Are we moving to Cornwall?

Are we moving to Cornwall?


Aha, I see why you ask. A popular Question among our readers and friends alike. I’ve made this all complicated (I’m tempted to say when it doesn’t need to be – but it is).


Retreat House
The Cornwall Retreat


When mum got sick


January of this year (2017) Mum had her heart attack. Following that she had a tough time, in and out of hospital until really the end of April. Between times she ‘stayed’ with us. She was nervous to be on her own, naturally.

Natural to feel this way since the day came where mum called me on the phone to let me know she felt like she was going to faint. Aiming to be calm but I could tell she wasn’t,

“I can’t even see the houses across the road Lou.” She told me with a shaky voice.

“I’m coming over.” And instantly I got in the car and went over.


Both mum and I firmly believe that telephone call saved her life that morning. Had she not called me, I think the heart attack she was having would have knocked her unconscious. Already in first degree heart block, of course this isn’t something we knew then, and at high risk of cardiac arrest.


When I parked up after a straightforward ten minute drive, I realised I had forgotten mums door keys. I’d promised her I would bring them in case she had actually passed out. Damn.

“Mum it’s just me and Nathan, I forgot the key.” I rapped on the door, remembering the doorbell doesn’t work.


Mum appeared at the door instantly, looking concerned and that kind of ‘I’m drunk but haven’t drunk anything’ she opened the door.

Searching for answers, I asked so many questions.

*Had she been sick?

*Had she drunk enough water?

*Was she on any new medication?

After telling me she took her bra off as it ‘felt too tight’, the wannabe health professional in me saw a lightbulb above my head. We had a blood pressure cuff at Mum and Dads house and I decided to take her blood pressure.


IT was fine which still surprises me now. But her pulse was slow at 45 BPM. I wasn’t sure what this might mean but I knew it needed checking.

“I’ll phone 111 shall I mum? Get some advice.”

They didn’t waste any time at all, sending out the little car with a wonderful paramedic lady. She took an ECG instantly and radio’d for back up with a few code words thrown in. The big ambulance came and whisked her away. Straight into A and E and bloods taken and words of ‘heart block’ still ring in my ears now.

She seemed worried but otherwise ok. Not how you picture someone who is having a heart attack.

It was a big one.

Mum spent many weeks animating clutching the chest and telling everyone, “it was nothing like that!!!” In her loud voice that so many people love her for.


When they test those bloods they are looking for an enzyme called Troponin. When the heart is damaged in a heart attack this is released into the blood. Numbers/levels of Troponin of a certain level indicate heart attack.

Mums came back at 7000. Very high it seems. Enough to make the health professionals eyes roll, or some other face that showed me this was a big deal. Enough for me to remember that number to tell nurses we met after the event just so they knew to treat her with extra special kid gloves as not only was she my mum but she had high troponin levels!

After 24 hours in recuss, she was moved to the big old ‘big deal’ ward. The Coronary Care Unit.



A week in CCU gave mum her first hospital experience EVER (other than giving birth to me and my brother but that was a maternity place so not officially a hospital). What an amazing ward.

Calm, caring, attentive…mum was lucky. In a strange way she lapped it up. She does love a lot of fuss. Poor Dad all those years, he could never quite give enough. While he did, if you know what I mean.


Still she was afraid and I knew this.


After surgery to fit a stent in her right coronary artery which was 99% blocked with atherosclerosis, she began to stabilise a little and the heart block had downgraded to Type 2 heart block called Mobitz 2. She still has this now. Still she is at risk for cardiac arrest. How does someone live with that? The fear must be consuming. She is so brave.   Very brave. But inside? Not so much as outside.

Moving in with us

Obviously she came home with us. Obviously. She had my bed, I slept on the sofa. My wonderful son did offer for me to go in his room and he would sleep on the sofa. But me and my crohns gives me the luxury for sleeping anywhere, quite literally.

After a few weeks this did begin to wear a little thin. Mum was in and out of hospital with more ‘angina’ they thought. They also said the heart needed time to settle. There was significant damage done to the bottom part of the muscle. It can’t heal. That part has died and that’s that. All we can do is make the very best of the muscle that is working.


Daily, well, several times a day, we took mums blood pressure and pulse, SpO2 was important as that would show if she was getting enough oxygen which of course is the job of the heart to ensure. Often it was low enough to cause the alarms to go off. Still now she is usually around 92/93. Ideally in a healthy individual it will remain around 99/100. The medics say it might be due to her smoking. She quit 30 years ago but nevertheless. She did smoke A lot! Steve and I used to give her such a hard time over this as kids. We sat with a mid-room smog blocking our view to the Tv and used to have a game at blowing as hard as we could through puffed out cheeks to aim to get the smoke to make a pattern with the air we had expelled. Funny at the time. Terrible now you think about it.


Anyhow, back to the question of are we moving to Cornwall?

Back in the summer we threw a party for mum as she put her house on the market. There was plentiful cake and tea as mum announced to her neighbours she was not going home anymore but rather the house was on the market.

“But Margaret you might get better. It’s early days yet.” Many of them tried to convince her otherwise. I had to step in as mums words failed her.

“She won’t get better. Tell them about the brain mum.”

“Oh yeah and I’ve got dementia.” There were gasps and sighs and i heard one whisper of ‘now i see’.

We were moving to Wales. Like actually up sticks and going. 75% of the time.

It was my dream to live somewhere within the trees and mum was excited for a new life, a new challenge. We found the perfect place. It was stunning and we all fell in love with it. The neighbours were sheep and a horse…


Sadly, our offer was not accepted as we had not sold mums house. We lost that house. Feeling heartbroken we continued to look.

While the entire party was Wales themed, it’s ironic how things have gone now…


Trying to recall, I’m not sure how we ended up where we are at now with the Cornwall story…


Yet we went along to look at a beautiful 5 star resort near Newquay. I’m guessing i was around 5 years old when we last went to Cornwall. I clearly remember we were camping. Someone suggested we take a tin of sweets (another child) to tease our new friend with – as they were his sweets. I misunderstood what she said and hid between two tents, opened the tin of sweets and licking my finger, dipped into the sugary powder that covered the sweets. It was yum. I’ve a sweet tooth. Chuckling, we both enjoyed this taste.

Then an angry dad rapped on the tent ‘window’ which was made of plastic so he had to really knock hard to get our attention. “Put it back!” He shouted angrily. I was devastated. What was so wrong? What had we done? The friend who was sharing the tin with me said,

“I didn’t mean eat it, I meant show him it.” Did she? OR was I taking the blame for getting told off?


Back to 2017 and heading down to look at a property in Cornwall. Stopping off at Babacombe in Devon. My breath was taken by the landscape of the rugged coastline high up at Babacombe.

It was more than amazing.

I was in nature.

It does things to me.

Makes me feel grounded.

Like I understand myself, feeding my soul, nutruring myself.   Mum seemed to feel something too. i think she just likes adventure.

Visiting Cornwall

The resort was more than perfect. We loved it. We loved the management who showed us around. The swimming pool was inviting, the steam room (my favourite) smelled of Eucalyptis, I was determined to buy a wet suit and have a bash at the outdoor pursuits place. Mum loved the houses.

“This is my room!” She exclaimed, excited to not have to climb stairs to bed, or shower or in fact anything. The upstairs could be mine she told me!

In between times of us being there, we would manage it as a retreat for others to enjoy. Allowing me to fill my workaholic self as well as keeping us afloat while I work less and less and take care of mum.


Going from working 20-30 clients a week down to around 3 on average obviously has taken it’s toll on the bank balance but this is a good thing! It’s allowed us the time together to go and do nice things. And given me the chance to realise my potential as a writer. More to come on that soon but for now, be teased as I tell you there is more to come…

So the retreat was an answer for everything.


A week before we were due to exchange contracts on mums house, the buyer came to measure up for furniture.   I was there and I was thrilled to see what a nice chap he was.

“You are going to love it here. The neighbours are amazing.” And I began to show him how to use the water heaters and heating system etc.

Noticing the electric storage heaters he asked where the gas was.

“There’s no gas. It just needs connecting in from the street.” I informed him.


This costs around £200 I think (not 100% sure) so I fail to see why he felt a need to email me with renegotiation terms. Sadly in England we don’t have the same upholding they have in Scotland where a deal is a deal.

What was the issue here? Surely he had looked into everything prior to putting his offer in? We had!

As a gesture of goodwill, I told him we would knock £2k off. He already offered us £25k less than the asking price which we accepted previously.


Sadly, he returned asking for more off. Asking him what he was thinking, he wanted yet another £25k knocked off. To which I asked advice from the Estate Agent and said no. This was crazy. Crazy. Crazy.


Turning down his offer, I really was not sure what to do next.

Would we lose the house in Cornwall? We hoped not. But I was worried. This was bitterly disappointing.

Asking the advice of my dementia worker friends, they suggested not telling mum just yet.


Facebook facilitated keeping it from her as I informed mums friends the house was going back on the market but please don’t tell her…


Thankfully, the amazing seller in Cornwall was more than happy to wait for us. A sigh of relief for sure.


Another estate agent contacted us right about the same time that my lovely friend Sharon needed somewhere temporary to stay. Ok, I thought, let’s keep all options open and speak to them all. While i needed to handle this all for mum’s sake, I also needed to do the right thing then chose my right time to speak to mum about it all. What we needed was an ideal timeline to move so we could optimise the summer bookings and generate ourselves a lovely income and therefore, me working so little as I currently am wouldn’t matter. We could make a great job of ‘doing it all’ with me at the mast of the ship.


Long story short, we embarrassingly met with the new estate agent just as the current estate agent was finishing off a viewing. This was terrible and I did feel bad but we felt the service we were currently receiving was a bit flat, uneventful and going nowhere. They were trying. Just this agent was one of the online guys who never follow anything up, neither do they call potential viewers which is a definite downwards spiral in my book. I’m almost tempted to sign up and do the job of one of these such agents just to do an amazing job. Nightmare brain I have. I actually did train and qualify as an agent way back in my days of living in Suffolk. I loved it. Didn’t love the manager who was training me. Picking up the phone for a bit of role play he would cringingly say, “Ok Mr Client, no problem we will…..” oh give me strength. My job there didn’t last too long. He drove me batty. Anyhow, surely these agents would benefit greatly from touching base with buyers who they could match up with properties. However, it doesn’t work like that with these guys. So we sit and wait. And miss the boat it seems.


One long day at uni I took a phone call (and left class) from the agent in Cornwall who was handling the sale of the place we wanted to buy. Perplexed, I sat and listened.

“We might have something of interest to you.” She explained and went on to offer a straight swap, mums house for the place in Cornwall. My eyebrows lifted in surprise. A great idea. Yet we would be out of pocket by 30K. So back to where we started in the first place. “M” from Cornwall came back with another wedge on the table but still I decided to leave it with the new marketing team until the end of January when we could speak again.


A long and wonderfully transparent conversation with a totally mind blowing (yet young) agent named Emily gave me great faith in the new agent and we signed up right away. In with the deal we got speaking about buy to let mortgages and I began to see myself as a ponytailed, comfy-clothing wearing property mogul. Whatever does mogul mean? I dunno. Sharon moved in within a couple of days which was helpful so we could put her bit of rent towards offsetting some costs for the agent. Bless her heart she was so good at all the too-ing and fro-ing of the agents.


Fast forward, I spoke to the broker who was professional and efficient and who actually felt he could sort this complicated mess. If only it was so easy to explain everything to mum. She was struggling to get her head around it all, I could tell. She looks away and nods at what is going on around us when she doesn’t understand. I believe she gets embarrassed. So instead turns her attention to the dog or something. In this case that was tricky as we were sat in Nandos.   Jasmine came with me for moral support. Able to calm down any situation and keep calmer than I can, I was thankful she was there. A deep breath, a grin and “Oh I don’t know how to start this” was exactly how I was. But we managed to ‘get there’ and mum was completely fine really.   Confused perhaps, yet fine.


Christmas came and went and a few folks were asking about the house and are we ‘moving to Cornwall’. So This was tricky to explain.


The house was back on the market. There was an influx of interest. No offers.

More marketing was, I feel, done as excellently as it could be done. There was feedback in relation to the lack of Gas to the property and the flowery wallpaper. Both easily remedied. Never the less I neglected to tell mum this stuff. Tricky. It’s her taste. Anyhow. End of January has passed now and as promised we re-negotiated.


Books upon notebooks upon note pads lay on my desk with ideas and lists. Stuff we need for Cornwall. Like new linen, crockery, cutlery etc.. Workings out for the business side of things. What I need to do first, what might be a priority. A new Sofa still resides on hold at the shop…Yes, it’s fair to say I’m excited. Excited to get mum and Harley away from it all, enjoy the fresh air of the countryside, give the kiddies a break from her difficult ways, give me a chance to cook. A massive hole in my timetable right now, cooking.


The Cornwall agent and I spoke again. “M” and I agreed a new price. We were both settled on this. I double checked with the agent before telling mum. I couldn’t keep unsettling her you see.


Yes! We were good to go.


I was more than excited. Telling mum, she punched the air and started to tell her friends. “Now we can do what we want to do!” She announced with excitement. Part of this included getting an order sorted for a stone on Dads grave. These things are blinking expensive.


I text “M” that night saying my solicitors wanted his solicitors details. No reply followed.


Early the next morning, I reached for my phone as I always do, checking all the notifications as you do.


“I’m afraid I’m going to have to pull out of the deal. I hadn’t realised there was no gas to the property and it’s not so much the cost but the time factor and the project will be too much. I’m sorry. I think you should lower your price by 25k.”




I felt cold. My ears hissed. What was he saying?

Immediately I contacted his agent by email telling her what he said. Beginning to do some sums in my head I was figuring out if it was worth cutting our losses or what to do. Everything was planned. Like, everything. I even had the diary in which to write the bookings. This was crazy. More than crazy.


The agent called as soon as the clock flicked on to 9am. Impressed with her. Right throughout the entire mess.

“I’m confused Louise. He has sent me something totally different. He said you have got the wrong end of the stick and he doesn’t want it cheaper, he is suggesting you sell it to someone else for cheaper. He also asked me to put his property back on the market at 35k increase.”


Like, ok what?


It has been on the market for 3 years at 35k less and we are the only ones putting an offer in. What a knob. Sorry, but..

Putting MBA on your email signature is all well and good but do your homework, read the brief on the notes. Jeez. Black and white. ‘Gas needs putting in’. I sure as heck did my homework on his place. Anyhow, stop the rant and continue the story…..

“He is very happy to still sell it to you for the same price if you can sell mums house quickly.” She explained in a very professional, empathetic manner (I bet she’s a great manager!)

“You know what.” I replied calmly, “I think I will actually wish him the very best of luck and decline.” It all made no sense at all and my gut was screaming at me to run for the hills. Bitterly disappointed? Erm, yes. Very. Yet now this has had almost a week to settle in with me I’m thinking it was definitely for a reason. I could still run the retreats from there, yet rent the places. They depreciate over time where as bricks and mortar not so. The strangest feeling consumes me as I try and juggle what life has thrown at me this past 2 years. Yet I know it’s all for the greater good.


What is my next move?


I’ve no idea. Yet this is something I must figure out before I tell mum this confusing news.

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