CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Somerset Life today CLICK HERE

A new lease of life

PUBLISHED: 09:24 23 September 2013

Ben McGrail

Ben McGrail


Somerset Life welcomes the start of a new series of monthly articles from your favourite BBC Somerset presenters. This month Ben McGrail looks at why Somerset is the place to be:

Moving house: one of the most stressful things a person does. I’ve calculated 13 moves in total in my life.

I’ve no idea if that’s a lot or not very much, but it certainly felt like a lot when I was counting and got onto my third set of five fingers!

But in comparison to one member of my family this year, none of those moves have really been a big deal.

Imagine, after living in the same home for 36 years and the same area for your entire life, moving 120 miles away from what’s familiar to you to somewhere new. Oh, and you’d be doing this in your 80s by the way.

Well that’s the situation that faced by my grandmother (my Nana) this year when she moved from the outskirts of London to Shepton Mallet.

The truth of it is that although she was leaving a home she loved, she was leaving a location that was no longer home. In the best of ways, things change slowly in Somerset compared to the cities and compared to where she lived in the capital, I doubt anywhere in our county has altered as much in the past 20 years.

It’s gone from being a leafy, friendly suburb of the capital to a sprawling, overcrowded, noisy, dirty and, ultimately, dangerous place. It’s not somewhere I’d want to live, never mind wanting my Nana to be there.

I visited her earlier this year, before she moved, and the changes that I saw there made me appreciate life here in the county even more!

I can’t really explain it – but even as someone who was born in London and brought up in the home counties, when I moved to Somerset two years ago it felt like I was coming home.

From day one here it’s felt like the place I need to be and it’s not a feeling I can quantify, unfortunately. It’s just an instinct and a natural reaction when I cross the border on the A303 or arrive in the Levels on the train.

As for my Nana, she’s now happy. She moved here to be closer to family. She loves her new home and she loves Somerset (although I’m yet to install a radio tuned to BBC Somerset for a proper initiation).

She misses her old place and her friends but who wouldn’t after more than 80 years of familiarity?

However she told me that she now has a ‘new life’ and the fact that her neighbours have welcomed her so warmly and taken her into their community has made the transition much easier.

Ultimately her move has reminded me that I live in a special place and I mustn’t take it for granted. But it’s also highlighted that no matter what our age, we have to be brave when it comes to change. If my Nana can make such a change after so long, then surely we all can, can’t we? n

Ben McGrail - presenter, weekdays 9am-noon – BBC Somerset. 95.5FM and 1566MW or via


More from People

The first woman to win a F3 class race at Brands Hatch, Bath-born Jamie Chadwick is on a new racing mission

Read more
Monday, October 1, 2018

Musician Stewart Copeland relives his Somerset school memories with Bernard Bale

Read more
Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Toby Buckland is hosting his second Harvest Festival event at Forde Abbey this month. Catherine Courtenay spoke to two of the gardening stars lined up for the speakers tent

Read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Tinnitus sufferers are being invited to use a new online, sound matching tool to help better understand their type of tinnitus and the potential treatments available to them.

Read more
Friday, August 17, 2018

Tony Blackburn is enjoying one of the most enduring careers in music. To think that Somerset played such a part in the amazing story of one of Britain’s top radio DJs

Read more
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Britain has always been at the mercy of the sea and the Bristol Channel is particularly hazardous with fierce tides, shallow banks and dangerous low tide mudflats, as Andrea Cowan discovers

Read more
Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Vanessa White is totally at home when she strolls through the centre of New York or Paris but the former Saturdays singing star still finds her place of birth quite breathtaking. After all – she was born in Somerset, says Bernard Bale

Read more
Friday, June 15, 2018

We know we love our coast, but what do the celebs make of it? We find out...

Read more
Friday, June 15, 2018

Somerset toasted the success of Jenson Button when he was crowned king of the F1 track for 2009, so stand by because there is a new budding driver revving up – and he is from our county too

Read more
Friday, May 25, 2018

One of the biggest British vloggers, three of the best UK comedians, a Formula One World Champion and an award-winning author – the towns and rural retreats of Somerset are a breeding ground for talent

Read more
Wednesday, May 23, 2018

We talked to chief audiologist at The Tinnitus Clinic, Mark Williams, who discussed causes, symptoms and treatments for tinnitus and hearing loss. Here’s what to do if you have ringing in your ears

Read more
Friday, April 13, 2018

The Sports Day, in aid of PCRF and open to the whole community, is taking place on April 28 from 10am to 4pm in and around the Boswells Café in the Quedam Shopping Centre

Read more
Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Kim Wilde is back – and Amy Noton discovers she hasn’t lost any zest for life

Read more
Monday, March 19, 2018

Bernard Bale talks to Hollywood A-lister Nicolas Cage about his decision to make our county his home

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

subscription ad

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search