A biographical article by local resident Val Brown
The children settled into Leigh School, where we knew the headmaster, Harry Hancock, and the nearby station was very convenient for John to travel to work. It wasn't long before the children joined in activities at cubs, brownies and scouts in the village hall and church down at Westwood. Over those seventeen years, we all made many good friends in the area. Our home always seemed to be full of people, buzzing with activity and as a family, we thrived on the atmosphere, never knowing who or how many would be around the table to join us at mealtimes.
They were very good years, but then, that time arrived which every parent experiences; the children moved on to university. Our empty nest was very calm and quiet. We missed them but decided that life is for living and so we decided to seize the opportunity to do some of the things we were unable to do while raising a family.
First we downsized and then we both resigned from our jobs to go and open a little antiques shop in beautiful Teesdale. We had no regrets and had wonderful times during the thirteen years we lived there, but our children and their children were settled in the south. We were missing them. We decided to move closer but were uncertain where to "hang our hat." Our eldest son resolved the problem by inviting us to stay with him and his family in St. Albans while we house hunted. Eight years later, in 2013, after visiting our daughter in Kenilworth, we were driving along Cromwell Lane when we saw a bungalow with a "For Sale" sign in the garden. Although it was in a very sad state, we knew that it was the place that was meant for us. After a lot of hard work, we are now ensconced in a beautiful home, in an area we love, just a short distance from where we spent some of the happiest years of our life.
What next? A peaceful retirement? Not quite. I still had another dream to fulfil and this was my big chance to make it all come true. Ever since childhood, I'd wanted to be a writer. The centenary of my mother's birth in 2014 was the beginning of my new career. She'd experienced some fascinating times through much of that century and so I wrote the story of her life, framing it within a social setting which saw many important changes over the period. I called it "The Girl In The Velvet Slippers."
After that I went on to write and publish two books of short stories, one of which, "A Bit What You Fancy", I'm currently working on to produce as an audiobook, which will be available in March of this year.
I understand how some people relish the idea of complete relaxation in retirement. If that's what they like, then I say seize the opportunity. For me, I share a full life with my husband, my family and my ten lovely grandchildren, I'm back in Burton Green and I can sit at my computer any time I like, for as long as I like, letting my imagination wander as I create my stories. In addition, I've embraced new technology and have enjoyed creating a blog to share information about my books. Please take a look https://valrbrown.wordpress.com/
All of Val's books are listed on her page at Amazon, which is here: