Sophie and James Golden moved from Hertfordshire to Chipping Norton with their three children. Sophie works in fashion retail and James is a personal trainer, with clients in London and the Cotswolds including Daylesford and YOLO fitness retreats.
So Sophie and James, you both have your hands full with clients, work, retreats, blog writing and kids …. how do you manage to get it all done? No sleep?
Life is very intense in the Golden household, with all of our activity revolving around our passions in life which are fitness, good food (healthy), working on projects, socialising and most importantly family. Everything we do is joint venture based as we work in complete partnership. The last decade has been a whirlwind for us but in a good way. A total adventure which keeps life fun and interesting. During challenging times, we have always stuck together and found a solution.
We do set ourselves mini objectives each month and one of which is to have a date night which is where we can switch off and just enjoy each other’s company. We both thrive off each other’s energy and are just highly active people with a desire for success. During our life together, we have established our own recipe for work, life balance which works for us. The blog writing is something we have both got into since relocating here and has essentially become a hobby. James (also know as The Fitness Pro) has often written features in fitness publications and is used to sitting in front of the PC to express his views but it has been a new venture for me which I am really enjoying.
When did you move to the Cotswolds, where were you before and what made you move?
Our families are from London but we were both raised in Watford which is where we met and spent our first years together as a couple. James set up his first personal training studio in 2006 In Amersham, Bucks and we decided to move to be closer to support growth of this business. We lived in a little Buckinghamshire village called Chalfont St Giles, near to Beaconsfield from 2010 to 2017 with all of our children being born here. Neither of us were raised in a village, totally the opposite in fact but we fell in love with village life and it was what we wanted in terms of raising our children.
Our attachment to life here in the Cotswolds developed after the birth of our first daughter – Ava, as we frequently came for long weekends to escape the stresses of running our business at the time. We married in the Cotswolds and we both shared the vision that life for us would take us here eventually, which it did in July 2017.
The personal training studio had developed into a much bigger enterprise during the 10 years since setting it up, but it wasn’t the dream for us anymore and we wanted to part company to start a new life away from the stress that it created. The Cotswolds presented our dream life with three children, and we started to explore the idea in early 2017 but little did we know at that point we would actually be brave enough to make the move that summer.
What’s been the best thing about moving here and what’s been the hardest?
The move to the Cotswolds has exceeded our expectations in so many ways. It is one thing having this dream of a perfect country life, it is another actually going through with it. Fortunately for us the move has paid off in so many ways and it has turned out to be the best thing for our family. To be surrounded by beautiful countryside, great pubs, excellent schools are just a few reasons why we love the Cotswolds!
It did take 12 months to settle and find our feet, but I can confidently call it home now! The hardest thing about relocating was moving away from family and friends for sure. The spontaneity has gone but we all make an effort to visit each other and we often have our parents and siblings to stay for the weekend with us and have some much-needed quality time with them all.
Sophie – tell us move about ‘Love Bombing’ with the kids – we spotted that on your blog.
Being a mum of three can be full on at times and I think it is vital to allocate some regular one-on-one time with each child. Each one has different needs and requirements, and while it is great fun being part of a big family, sometimes it is good for some time alone with mummy and daddy which can be as simple as just taking them for a pizza or a hot chocolate.
For me it is the small things that a make a big difference to little people, as simple as just walking along holding hands, giving them your undivided attention, talking about school, finding out about what they enjoy doing and just making that time all about them! James and I both make a conscious effort to create regular time for each child to make them feel special and to have some much needed ‘love bombing’.
What’s a fairly typical morning and afternoon for you both?
A typical morning in the Golden household is an early one. James is up and out of the house at the crack of dawn most days to train his first clients either in London and now here in the Cotswolds. I have the challenge of getting the kids dressed, fed, and out the door for school / preschool, with a strong coffee in hand! I work from home one morning a week and on Thursdays and Saturdays I clock off from ‘mum duties’ and get to spend the day working at the beautiful Law & Co boutique in Stow on the Wold.
When I am not working, you will most likely find me in the kitchen, I absolutely love cooking and creating healthy recipes for the family! James and I try to meet up for coffee or lunch in between James’s client sessions and project commitments which include YOLO retreats and creating fitness content for events. At the end of day after all of the school drops offs and pick ups, after school clubs, homework and work commitments, we try most evenings to all sit together around the table and have dinner often enough with a well deserved g&t (although not on a school night!).
What would you say about the work/life balance of being in the Cotswolds?
It is so easy to become submerged in work and the daily stress of life which we have both done in the past, however since moving here we have both changed our mindsets and found the ideal equilibrium. We have established what feels like the perfect work / life balance and subsequently have become a much stronger, happier family unit as a result.
We always used to reboot through weekend stays in the Cotswolds when we had our business. The Cotswolds became our happy place and we always had this vision that we wanted to make a move in this direction in the future. We didn’t envisage it being when we did but we started exploring the idea and the idea become reality when we sat down and worked out the logistics.
The move here has provided the environment we wanted for our children growing up and it has enabled us to create a perfect family life which has the blend of being in control of work commitments and leisure time which makes you feel blessed to be alive. We tend to have Sundays as our family day and take the children out to explore new places. We are so fortunate to live in a location with an array of family friendly things to do, fantastic pubs and natural beauty to explore which we try to take advantage of where possible.
Where would you recommend to grab a bite to eat during lunch in and around where you work?
When I am at work in Stow on the Wold, my favourite place to grab some lunch and a coffee is The Hive which offers really tasty home-cooked food with fantastic service at reasonable prices. It is always so busy with a great atmosphere. Another place I love to take the children to is BakerGirl in Great Tew for a hot chocolate and an epic piece of cake!
What’s been the most challenging and rewarding part of your jobs so far?
From my point of view, after taking eight years off to have the children, I finally got a point where everyone was happy and settled after the relocation, I came to the conclusion I was ready to do something for me. Going back to work and getting some structure back in my life has been hugely beneficial for my confidence and good for the soul!
James had built a reputation as a very popular fitness professional over 20 years where we both had strong networks so the move here has presented a challenge of generating new contact circles and essentially a black book to support us here in the Cotswolds. James has always been a strong networker and with Daylesford as his base here, he has now started to raise his profile alongside the well known Daylesford brand.
What are your goals living and working here or have you reached them already?
Our future is here now and we couldn’t see ourselves wanting to be anywhere else. Our passion in life is very much around health, fitness, food and family so with James now establishing himself as a fitness professional in the area, alongside our previous experience in running a business, we are exploring some plans to develop a business to sit alongside YOLO retreats which we are shareholders of and our other current work commitments. All we can say at this stage is ‘watch this space’….
Where’s your favourite place to take the kids over the weekend?
Sunday is our family day and we try to get out and explore new places as much as we can. We often take the children over to Soho Farmhouse for a walk and love the family Sunday roast they do. We also use Blenheim Palace to get the kids out on the bikes and for an ice cream when the sun shines, or a walk around the beautiful Bourton on the Water. During the spring and summer, we love to visit The Cotswolds Farm Park where possible as the kids love animals.
Where would you go to eat/drink if it was just the two of you?
We always aim to have a date night once a month as we do have parents visit us frequently, so it does allow us some time away from the craziness of three children. We do use the Soho Farmhouse for our evening entertainment as we do enjoy the buzzy atmosphere in the evening, but we are also very fond of the Wheatsheaf Inn in Northleach and The Chequers in Churchill if we fancy hitting a local pub.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about making the move from London to come and live in the Cotswolds?
Do it!! Country living is not for everyone… you need to really want it, to be at a stage in life where it suits your family and work commitments. Life is for living and anything is possible if you want it that much! You have to be prepared to make some sacrifices and put yourselves first. With the right mindset anything is possible!