Jenny Roper has moved back from the Tarn Valley in France to her special park home on Hillside Park, in Hertfordshire
It’s interesting how aspects of life can repeat themselves. Jenny spent her early childhood in Sussex in a caravan during some financially testing times for the family. It was literally a caravan where the bed had to be pulled out from the wall.
The caravan was situated on the land of a vet for whom her mother looked after two racehorses and dog boarding kennels.This was the start of Jenny’s love of horses, which has remained throughout her life.
She later lived in a mobile home after her divorce in her early 30s. Fiercely independent and self-sufficient, Jenny refused to take funds from her ex-husband and ended up on a local caravan site with her then two boys. So cramped and bad were the conditions, the council re-housed them.
Rural living, as Jenny had known it, came to an end aged 11 years. Her family moved to High Holborn in London to a flat owned by the solicitors below. Her father worked as a mechanic at Finsbury Barracks and her mother for the solicitors as receptionist during the day and cleaning for them in the evenings.When Jenny’s parents retired back to Sussex years later, Jenny took over the flat and her mother’s role, donning smart uniform by day and apron by night.
One lion heart
Jenny is only 4ft 8in but a lion heart at the core! As a child she was bullied for her Sussex accent and small stature.
She didn’t stand for it. She recalls walking back from school over the bombsites where individuals would lie in wait to throw stones and torment her. Unphased, she was a better shot than them and soon gained respect and reputation.
A bit of a loner, Jenny sought any opportunity to be near horses and spent many weekends ‘hanging around’ the dray horses at the Metropolitan Police stables. ‘Looking back, I must have been a real nuisance!’ she explained. So besotted was she that when asked in religious studies at school which was the most important book she responded Black Beauty!
Jenny had great appreciation of school and managed to stay on a further year.This period initiated another life-long love: singing.
During school holidays she appeared at Sadler’s Wells and for three years was in a production of Hansel and Gretel. She later joined a singing group where she met her first husband. Following divorce, Jenny had a baby daughter with a long term partner. Throughout her children’s upbringing, ponies played a prominent role, as they spent many weekends at shows and gymkhanas.
Rural life in France
In 2000, Jenny met her second husband, Mike.At the time they were both facing redundancy so decided to sell up everything and move to the beautiful hills in the Tarn Valley in France.The pound was strong against the euro and they were fortunate to purchase a farmhouse with 25 acres in the Black Mountains.This was living rural life to the full.They had two horses, two alpacas and four cats, worked the land and set up a business animal sitting for other families!
Jenny also did some agency care work for a month at a time in the UK.
Return to roots
It was due to Mike’s tragic death that Jenny had to re-evaluate circumstances and in 2011 decided to move back to the UK. It was a great upheaval. She sold the horses and paid a fortune to transport the four cats back.After a year, she started looking at mobile homes seriously. Keen to stay close to her daughter Jayne, in Letchworth, Jenny had a choice of five park home sites nearby. She found her home on Hillside Park, in Baldock.
‘I wouldn’t be anywhere else’
It’s as if she’s returned to her roots – but this time there’s a proper bedroom with no pull- out bed! Jenny bought a single unit which she basically gutted to an open shell. It is now attractively refurbished with a newly fitted kitchen and bathroom, and stylishly complemented by modern free-standing furniture.
By her own admission, Jenny is nobody’s gardener so the outdoor space is cleverly presented in grass, paved and decked areas. Her lovely park has no age restriction for residents, which creates a lively and active mix of friendly people.
Let’s get cosy
Jenny had heard about Park Home Chassis Services’ (PHCS) underfloor insulation system several years ago and put it on her wish list. Having recently spoken to other residents about the benefits Jenny called PHCS to discuss the installation. She explained:‘There are two reasons why I want the PHCS underfloor insulation system: I want my feet to be warm and comfortable and I’d also like my children to inherit some money and want to make my home as valuable as possible.’
The PHCS surveyor has been to inspect under the home to ensure everything is in order for the installation. Jenny added,‘The surveyor was brilliant. He checked everything thoroughly, was helpful and reassuring, and couldn’t have been nicer.
‘The installation work for the PHCS underfloor insulation is now scheduled shortly and I cannot wait to have a warmer home…and feet.’
Settled but not slowing
At 72, Jenny is as energetic as ever. Since moving in, she has joined a local community choir and happily reports it has strengthened her voice. She walks the grandchildren to and from school whilst her daughter, Jayne, works and also continues to do some occasional care work.
Plus, Jenny is fully occupied with ponies! In fact, she has bought herself a fabulous, confidence-giving 12.2h pony which she rides and attends daily, along with her daughter’s mare. If that’s not enough, she’s also currently looking after the nine guinea pigs and two cats whilst Jayne is away on holiday.
Jenny has found happiness in her new life and home, and she considers herself to be truly lucky.There is huge admiration for this lion heart of a lady!