Alan O’Connor professes never to have been a poet, but a new life at Churchill’s Eaton Lodge in Chester inspired him to write a verse that reveals impressive hidden talents. His poem ‘Life with Churchill’ is a charming reflection on how the move to Eaton Lodge led to an unexpected new lifestyle for himself and his wife.
When asked how the poem came about, 82-year-old Alan explained: “I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a poet, I’ve written the odd little jingle for children’s birthday cards and that was it. But I was inspired to write about my experience with Churchill, mainly to amuse my friends and neighbours here, and it’s proved to be quite popular.
“My wife and I have a special relationship with Eaton Lodge as we used to live in the house next door. We’ve lived in Chester for some 50 years, and for the past 40 of those years we lived comfortably in our 4-bedroomed detached house in a small cul-de-sac just outside the city. Next door to our home was a 16-bedroomed hotel which we had watched grow from a small, elegant, guesthouse, through several ownerships, into the rather run-down establishment it eventually became.
“Eventually, the hotel was declared bankrupt and the site was offered for sale. Naturally, we took a keen interest in who, or what, fate awaited the site. Various plans were submitted, ranging from university student accommodation to a Chinese restaurant, none of which were ideal.
“We were delighted to finally learn that the site had been sold to Churchill Retirement Living for the construction of retirement apartments. We watched with fascination as the hotel was demolished, the site cleared and construction commenced. In the time it took to build the block, we became friends with the site managers, the construction workers and all involved. We also were able to see that the build standards were extremely high and the exterior appearance of the building was excellent.
“Gradually, over time, we became more and more aware that our own lives might be more comfortable and secure in such an environment. At the same time, I had to undergo major surgery which left me weakened, and ‘feeling my age!’
“And that was it. After some inside info from the site manager we decided on the apartment best suited for our needs. Our house sold quickly and our removal - with its myriad of details - was handled with great efficiency and dispatch by Churchill’s removal service. You could, therefore say that Churchill Retirement Living ‘came to us’ rather than us to them, without us going to the bother of searching the market and visiting other establishments.
“What we didn’t realise at the time, however, was that far from just buying an apartment in which to while away our final years we were, in fact, joining a brand new circle of friends, beginning a new a social life, and finding a lease of energy and enjoyment we just didn’t expect.
“We now find ourselves part of a large family of friends who enjoy each other’s company and engage in a wide variety of pleasurable activities together. Our Lodge Manager Corrina is a real live wire and helps us organise fun days out, coach trips and visits to the theatre, as well as weekly coffee mornings and regular events here at the lodge, like the Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.
“We’ll have to wait and see if I’m inspired to write any more poems; it’ll be a case of finding the right subject matter. Meanwhile, life is good!”
Here is Alan’s poem in full:
Life with Churchill
When I retired I just didn’t see
exactly what my future was to be.
Will it be empty, will it be full?
Will it be active, will it be dull?
Freed at last from the shackles of work,
living my life, trying not to shirk
from the tasks that arise in everyday life,
the garden, the kitchen (the domain of my wife!)
Living quite well with my home-loving spouse,
enjoying our lives in our four-bedroomed house.
We were settled and stable, as most pensioners are,
not needing to look to the future too far.
But, as time went on it began to dawn
that this wasn’t the lifestyle to which I was born.
I was born to be free, to ‘live’, not just to ‘be’.
To enjoy life in style; full of promise and glee.
And then, the day came when, not far from our place,
Churchill started constructing a ‘Retirement Space’.
A well designed building with gardens and lift,
to us both, it seemed, the most perfect gift.
So, after much thought, we decided upon
a two bedroomed apartment, with views out upon
beautiful gardens, (of which others take care!),
and comfy large rooms, full of warmth and fresh air.
A ‘downsize’ for sure, so lots has to go,
all our treasured possessions from long, long ago.
But help was at hand from people who knew
just what was required, to ease our move through.
Now we thought, as we entered our new abode
that life would be simple, in quieter mode.
But we soon came to realise that this wasn’t so,
there are others in here who are all ‘get-up-and-go!’
We were quickly engaged in a programme of fun.
Coffee Mornings, cream teas, entertainments to run.
Trips to the theatre, coach parties, meals out.
There’s simply no need to feel lonely, or ‘left out’.
So now, after almost two years living here,
if anyone asks me “how’s life?” it’s quite clear
that my answer, with contented smile, will be,
“My life is just great, it’s Churchill for me”
Eaton Lodge is a stylish collection of 33 one and two bedroom senior apartments close to all the amenities of Hoole Village, just outside the City of Chester. The Lodge has an Owners Lounge, which is for use by all the residents as a casual meeting place or for organised events and there is also a Guest Suite for visiting relatives or friends.
One and two bedroom apartments are available for sale at Eaton Lodge, priced from £216,950. For more information on the development, or to arrange a visit, call 01244 439 620.