Bob and Marion Harland moved into their gorgeous two-bedroom apartment in Kings Sutton, South Northamptonshire, just before Christmas 2017.
Marion, 66, had seen an advert online for Astrop Grange, a development of 10 shared ownership apartments for over 55s on the site of a former Georgian manor house and, despite being happy with their apartment overlooking the Grand Union Canal in Milton Keynes, she and Bob thought the new development looked so beautiful it was worth taking a look.
Bob, 70, said: “We came to the open day at the local Memorial Hall and then went to see the development at its first level of bricks. We loved the rural surroundings and how it was going to look like a traditional country home, so we decided to up sticks and move to the country.
“We used to live in Surrey and moved to Milton Keynes in 1981 due to my then employer, an IT company, relocating to the new Buckinghamshire town. Although we lived there for 36 years we really don’t miss living in the city. It’s not a case of not liking it, it’s just we now have this lovely new home to come back to each time we venture out.
“If we need to go into town then Brackley and Banbury are not far away. We go to the Salvation Army services in Banbury and have lots of friends there who we socialise with.
“All our neighbours in Astrop Grange are great and everyone we have met in the village is a delight. It’s astonishing how quickly we got to know people and how quickly they have embraced us in return. The fish and chip van pays a visit on a Friday night and it’s amazing how many people you can get to know just standing in the queue!
“What’s even better about this scheme is that there’s a community room we can all use. We hold a bible study group on Thursdays and there’s a coffee morning there on Friday mornings. People from the neighbouring bungalows and from the village come along. It’s a really lovely room and is really easy to book. In fact we even held my 70th birthday even there with family and friends from Milton Keynes, as well as some of our newest friends from Astrop Grange and Kings Sutton.”
Besides socialising, Bob’s hobbies include walking and photography and, in and around the village, there are plenty of places for him to indulge in both of these pastimes.
“I’m hoping that photographs of how the old Astrop Grange was, compared to the new building, might be exhibited in the meeting room. A neighbour took photographs when it was a work in progress and we’d love to be able to have these put on display to show the building’s history.”
Bob’s other hobby is classical music, in particular American concert music: “Mine and Marion’s first date was a concert at Festival Hall in London. She must have enjoyed it, she said yes to another date! We’ve now been married 47 years and have been blessed with two children and three grandchildren – and two fantastic sons-in-law!”
Marion gave up work to look after the first of their three grandchildren and loved it so much she carried on childminding for a further 12 years.
Marion also enjoys socialising with her many friends: “What our apartment in Milton Keynes lacked was a sense of community. It was a mixed tenure block and those who were renting moved in and out fairly regularly. We’re a very sociable couple but it was so difficult to get to know anyone there.
“We are both so happy here, but then how could you not love this?!”