Thousands of Britons head off to live overseas each year, and New Zealand has some of the greenest pastures on the planet, beautiful landscapes, an easy going way of life, bungy jumping and intriguing history.
But, after 20 years in New Zealand, Glenys Hales couldn’t be more delighted to settle in Swindon. When she first set eyes on Toothill – a place she had only ever seen on a computer screen – Glenys was thrilled to see how pretty and filled with trees the area is. She had used the internet to search for a home within reach of London, where she grew up, and found that houses in Swindon were the most affordable.
Friends helped her and daughter Tami, 20, rent a house in Toothill when they first arrived before they bought a home in Haydon End in North Swindon.
Swindon Link has played an important role in helping Glenys and Tami find their feet. “The magazine is just fantastic; I’ve never seen anything like it. It really helped open us up to what was going on. I don’t know anybody here, so I have to get out and do things.”
Articles in the magazine have prompted her to volunteer to work with the Youth Service, start knitting tiny hats for the Age Concern/Innocent fundraising campaign and take part in a charity car rally. In November she is going to join the new conservation group at Haydon Wick’s Bluebell Wood and will be visiting the Peatmoor Community Woodland Group.
The listings pages are also required reading for Glenys, who is enthusiastic about the live music scene here, and full of praise for the varied programme at the Wyvern theatre. “I cannot understand anyone moaning about Swindon. When you live in a place that has everything, perhaps you don’t appreciate it.”
The family’s two dogs also moved to Swindon with them and Lydiard Park has become a favourite place for walks. Surprisingly, she says that it is easier to access the countryside in England than it is in New Zealand, where most of the land is privately owned.
Having moved to Priory Vale, Glenys has a soft spot for Toothill and is thinking of moving back because the shops, amenities and transport links to the town centre are so good. “I know it has a reputation but it shouldn’t have. Toothill has a lot going for it.”
Pictured above, Glenys and Tami with their immigrant pets, fox terrier Jess and New Zealand Hunterway Kip