“Life’s too short,” says Audrey Harris. “Covid has opened a lot of people’s eyes about being hemmed in, not being able to do things or see family, and your whole perspective now is - don’t take anything for granted.”
An adventurous spirit and desire to be part of a happy community are driving the lives of Audrey and her husband Trevor.
They moved into a ground floor apartment at Scalesceugh Hall at the start of summer, and have quickly settled in, largely thanks to the other homeowners in the grand mansion.
“The day we arrived, we were so impressed because all the residents here came rushing to see us, they were so friendly,” recalls Audrey.
“It became apparent straight away that this will be a nice community to live in,” agrees Trevor.
“Scalesceugh owners Bruno and Anita are also nice people, they chat to you and mix in. It’s a nice atmosphere here.”
This came as a relief to Trevor and Audrey, as they had first downsized to another development outside the county, but it soon became apparent they had made the wrong move.
“We lived in Windermere for 25 years, in a three bed house with garden, and wanted to downsize to an over-55s property for our final move,” explains Audrey.
“We moved to an apartment in a complex. It was nice with lots of facilities but we were only there for nine months.”
Trevor adds: “It was a strange atmosphere, the wrong environment for us.
“It is far more friendly here at Scalesceugh, there is more of a community.
“Where you live, and the environment you live in, is a big deal to me.”
'There are so many options'
Now, with the cinema room and communal lounge opening, as well as the bistro alongside Nara Spa, the couple have much to look forward to with their new friends.
“We’ve had a few thoughts, speaking to the other people in the Hall, about having a residents’ meeting, so once a month we can look at putting things into place, like a cinema club, or something like that,” reveals Audrey.
“If we get a really bad winter, and we can’t get out as much, there will still be things going on here.
“It will also be a help having the bistro here, as that could be a good meeting place.
“The other night we had drinks on the lawn, which was nice. In the winter, we can do that in the bistro, or the guest lounge, or the cinema. There are so many options.”
For Audrey especially, moving back to Cumbria was another big draw to Scalesceugh Hall.
Originally from Durham, she lived in Essex with Trevor, who spent 40 years working at the Ford factory in Dagenham.
“We used to come up to the Lake District every year. Once you’ve been here, there are very few people who don’t want to go back.”
So they moved to Windermere, and Audrey began working in the banking sector, most of the time at Santander in the town.
Now she says: “It feels like I’ve come home. We were looking to move back to Cumbria, because I’ve missed the county and our daughter lives nearby.
“We spotted Scalesceugh Hall online and came up to see it. Straight away we thought ‘ooh this is nice.’
“I like the feel of the building, I love its grandeur. There are lovely grounds to sit in and I love looking out the front window to the fountain, it feels like we’re in Downton Abbey!”
Trevor says: “The first time we walked in here, we were impressed. It’s got everything we want.
“It’s far enough away from the shops, but it’s close enough to them, too. Living here, you wouldn’t realise that Carlisle is a few minutes down the road.
“The area is really nice, it’s not too remote, but you think it is. It’s a beautiful apartment in a beautiful setting. Lovely kitchen, nice size rooms. We’re happy here.”
Trevor and Audrey have been married for 47 years, have three children, one grandson - and a very well-behaved schnauzer dog called Archie.
“It was nice to know that, although he’s elderly, we could still bring him here,” says Audrey.
They are all looking forward to exploring the area and discovering new walks, and although Trevor drives, they are also grateful for handy local transport links to help them get around.
“We can get the bus to Carlisle or Penrith, from the end of the drive, and then pick a train up as well,” explains Audrey.
“I love Ullswater, that’s my favourite lake, so we head that way, or towards Keswick. I’m also looking forward to visiting the Pennines.”
Trevor adds: “I want to go into the Tourist Information, get maps and books to find out more about all the walks around here.
“I like forests, personally, it will be nice to explore the area. We also love the wildlife and birds - it is ideal for that round here.”
The couple are certainly not thinking of slowing down. Like Audrey said, they’re not taking anything for granted.
“Sometimes when people get older, they have more energy,” she explains. “You want to keep active and fit, that’s what keeps you young.
“I think that’s what Scalesceugh could achieve - getting people together of the same mentality.
“It’s nice to have people in your own age group around you, and to have similar interests as them.”
Trevor has his sights set on the local fairways and greens. “I used to be a member of a golf club. I used to play twice a week,” he says.
“Hopefully I’m going to get back into golf. I do miss it, and the social side of it.”
So Trevor and Audrey have found happiness at Scalesceugh, and that’s just the start of their new adventure.