We bought the property in 2001. A lady who worked in our restaurant, suggested we went and looked at a property, on the same road, she lived in. She knew we were looking to buy an investment/holiday home, and thought this house would be perfect. I had bought a similar property a little while back, to let out, not far from Sough. At the time, property was cheap and easy to come across, so we went to look at it.
The house perfect really, so we bought a third house in one year. yes I was manic, yes I was OCD, yes I do these things when I am on a high. It then gave me something else to spend money on. I could now spend more money doing Clifton Street up, and sure enough I did!
Up until 2004, Clifton Street was purely a holiday home. When we left our business, we moved to Southampton, but never considered moving up north. When I became ill in 2004, Jason thought it would be the perfect place for us to move to. It was quiet, ideal for recovery and away from temptation and influences that were not the best to be around. We made the decision, to move lock, stock and barrel, to Lancashire!
The area itself, was full of old cotton mining villages of the North. Sough was on the outskirts of these industrial areas, areas such as Burnley and Nelson! It was on the outskirts of Yorkshire and had been in both Counties at one time or another. Most people liked to think of themselves as Yorkshire men. It was more desirable, a bit of a snobby thing!
The people, now what can I say about the people. Apart from the few we knew, there was only a brief hello to anyone else in the village. The majority of those in the there, were old, traditional and anti change. I remember being told of the day a black couple bought a shop in the nearby village of Earby. There was such an uproar from the locals, that everyone boycotted the new shop and it was closed within two weeks. When I look at it logically now, I can see that being so close to that BNP stronghold of Burnley, I really shouldn't have been so surprised by the locals actions. Never the less it was unsettling, and not something I was used too.
The Northern accent reflects northern nature. The long drawn out sentences, the monotone speech, the extended vowels. The local people and pace of life was slow, very slow. There were no jobs in the area. Home owners were either elderly or second home owners. Public transport was non existent and the locals did not like new comers, especially two gay men, from down South. For a while it was fine. We decided to say we were two brothers if asked. We did not want the hassle. I know now that was a mistake. Of course people found out we were homosexual in the end and it did become uncomfortable in the end, especially for me.
Jason was working for The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, just over the boarder in Yorkshire. To be honest the wages were not that great at the time, but life was cheaper, we did not have huge rent or mortgage to pay and yes things were less stressful. Jason also worked nights, so I spent a lot of time on my own. There were no friends to speak of, and the isolation for both of us became intolerable. I was getting hassle from the locals about our homosexuality and the friends we did have, had become distant. It was the wrong area and community for us to live in. As Southerners, we did not fit in. The pace of life was far too slow and the people were hard, right wing and racist. It was time to go.
We made the decision to leave in 2006 and come back to Southampton. Our experiment, living up North had been partially successful. I was well. So after two years we moved back. I will always miss certain aspects of my time in Lancashire, but would never live there again, It truly is different! The memories I have, are of recovery and relaxation, but sadly we had very few good times. We no longer see anyone from that time, which shows more about the misconception that Northerners are far more welcoming. They are not, or rather that is our experience. The friends we have in Southampton are far and above the best we have had in a long time. Save the North for your old age, and even then, think twice!