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Colin & Di
Colin used to work as a home carer and Di as a doctor’s receptionist. Although they had lived in West London for forty years, they both originally come from Birmingham so they started looking in that area when they wanted to move house.

‘Then we read an article about eco-friendly homes,’ says Colin. ‘The Wintles at Bishop’s Castle was within our budget, so we went and had a look. Within half an hour we’d put our deposit down.’

They moved to their four-bedroom house on The Wintles in the autumn of 2004.

‘We liked the feel of the place,’ continues Colin. ‘It looked like a very friendly set-up. We liked the fact that the cars are at the back, so you’re not aware of rows of parked cars. We used to live in Ickenham near Uxbridge, which is a pretty village, but there were always too many cars.’

‘The first thing that was noticeable about The Wintles was getting to know the neighbours. 90% of the people in the fourteen homes joined us on the Green on Christmas morning, where we’d lit a fire in a barrel. We had carol singing and mince pies, and I dressed up as Father Christmas and gave presents to the children.’

Colin and Di enjoy being part of The Wintles community, and make a valued contribution.

‘We love playing with the kids, and we’re always here for the neighbours if they need us to babysit. We also look out for our neighbour’s elderly mother; drop in to see if she’s alright or needs anything when they’re away - and we feed people’s cats too. This would never have happened in other places we’ve lived.’

Colin is a keen gardener, and is looking forward to the summer, when the residents will begin to grow their own produce.

‘We’re getting the allotments sorted out soon. Last summer, it was fantastic here - wild flowers all over the banks and verges and there’s fruit growing in the labyrinth already. There were beautiful butterflies everywhere.’

They are pleased with their house, and its performance.

‘We love the house - and it’s certainly doing what it says on the tin. Having been in our energy-efficient home for fifteen months, we are experiencing real savings on fuel. The extra insulation should ensure that heating costs in future are kept to a minimum. When we return after three days away visiting family in Birmingham or London, the house is still warm.’

Colin and Di have also become involved in the thriving social scene of Bishop’s Castle.

‘It’s our ideal place to live in our retirement, with lots of leisure opportunities. We’ve joined the Crown Bowls club - it’s 400 years old and is in the grounds of the castle. Di’s joined a sewing group and does t’ai chi. One of our neighbours on The Wintles runs the classes and they’re very popular. We love the walking, and we’ve both bought new boots.

‘We’re also on the committee for the Michaelmas Fair in Bishop’s Castle - a traditional festival which takes place in September. There’s a beautiful lantern parade, and people make their own lovely lanterns out of paper, and a vintage car rally ­ we had 150 last year. Thousands of people come into Bishop’s Castle to see it.’

Summing up his feelings about their new home, Colin says, ‘Being in a new community within a very old one means that we are enjoying life more fully. We care for each other, and that makes us happier.’