In the January issue, Mike Parker and Philip Pond report from three residential parks in different towns around The Wash - Boston, Wisbech and King's Lynn. They found that, despite the common perception of the area as bleak and unwelcoming, those who had made there home there were pleased with their choice.
Joyce and Fred Smith
Joyce and Fred Smith and friend Toby at Lea Park, Boston
Joyce Smith says she could cry sometimes when she thinks about the friendliness and generosity of people in the Boston area. As Lincolnshire people themselves, Joyce, 75, and her husband Fred, 77, who moved to Lea Park in Boston from their flat in Wytherton about 13 years ago, must be part of that self-same community spirit, and their opinion of the locals is shared by others.
The couple moved again just a few weeks ago - but this time just a few yards from their original home on Lea Park to a brand new Tingdene Grove. They are waiting for a porch to be built before they can finish laying out their lawn and garden.
"We've never regretted coming to live here," Joyce told Mike Parker. "You can't fault the people who own Lea Park. They are very, very good. It's a lovely site, and they've done a lot of work themselves, and put a lot of money into it."
"And everything about the way of life is right for how we want to be," Fred adds. "It's peaceful, there's nothing to disturb us."
"And you haven't got the work to do in a park home like this that you would have in a house," his wife chips in.
Though they like peace and quite, Joyce and Fred are no stay-at-homes. They go ten-pin bowling twice a week and play golf three times a week, having only taken up the game three or four years ago.
"It's good exercise and very sociable," Fred says. "And it doesn't bother me whether I play good or bad, but Joyce gets a bit irritated when she's not playing very well."
"It"s a very frustrating game," Joyce adds. "but we enjoy it."
Julie and Derek Cass
Julie Cass outside her Tingdene Hayden Classic on Grove Park, Wisbech
Having located Grove Park in Wisbech during an internet search, the Casses came, they saw, they liked - and they bought. Within three months of making the decision to move to a park home, they were in, the first residents to arrive.
Apart from a brief foray into Spain - which came to nothing because of a one-year leasing system - and a quick look at Plumtree Park in King's Lynn (by then, full up), this park was the first they looked at with serious intent. Likewise, their three-bedroom Tingdene Hayden Classic 40x20 (with an exterior lamp and electric points added on) was their first and only choice.
It was a case of love at first sight. So much so that a show home on their chosen plot - a corner site, the largest on Grove - had to be moved elsewhere to accommodate the Tingdene. Something general manger Adrian May was happy to do.
Having moved in - on June 24 to be exact - Julie and Derek set to work laying out their garden. The plans had already been drawn up in advance by Julie. They included a 10ft by 10ft gazebo, a shed, a patio, a vegetable plot plus a little water feature. And lots of garden statuary.
When Philip Pond visited in late November, all was complete: this couple were well and truly established - and making more plans for the future. With the balance of the proceeds of their house sale in Clacton, Julie and Derek are planning to buy a second home (of the bricks'n'mortar type this time) in Bulgaria. They have been on the internet again, identified some suitable properties for sale there and were planning to fly off for a visit in early December.
Why? Because property prices in Bulgaria are likely to go up, if not soar, in years to come, apparently. Think c£50,000 for a new detached house, just £15,000 for a pre-owned three-bedroom property… So the Cass's are going to get in early. Not least because the cost of living is similarly low. Just £1 for 20 cigarettes and 50p for a beer, would you believe
The Julie and Derek's early impressions of park-home living at Grove Park? It's just the job, I was told. There is lots of wildlife. It's lovely and quiet. And the neighbours are nice too. "Everyone likes to pass the time of day," Julie commented. "And the supermarket is only half a mile away, too."
She admitted that there had been some teething troubles with their park home initially - a scratch on the fridge/freezer door and a gap at the edge of a carpet. But those were all quickly sorted out by Tingdene, who simply replaced them. No fuss! "We couldn't fault them. They were spot on," said Julie.
All in all it adds up to a new start, a new life and new opportunities for the Casses. And not just in the capital of the Fens.
Plumtree Park/Grove Park
Crickmore Parks, Stable House, 70 Fen Road, Chesterton, Cambridgeshire CB4 1TU, tel: 01223 424280
119 Church Road, Boston, Lincolnshire PE21 0LG, tel: 01205 365818
The full version of this article appeared in the January 2006 issue of Park & Holiday Homes magazine.