While the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry, for Tina Bury her plan to only stay six-months in Guernsey going awry has shaped her life and has seen her “find herself” on the island she has called home for half her life.
Born in Blackpool and raised in North Devon, Tina said she has an affinity for being close to the sea and loves the way of life on the island but came perilously close to never making her way to the Bailiwick.
“I was 18 and working in a travel agency with a friend. We were bored and wanted an adventure and we saw two advertisements; one was for an apprenticeship on a cruise ship, and the other was for a season working in Sark,” she said.
“The very lovely Mrs Armogie from Stocks came to the UK to conduct interviews, but my friend and I both decided that we would rather go for the cruise ship option.
“After we made the decision, neither of us could sleep and we realised that it was because we had made the wrong decision, so we decided to go to Sark instead.”
Pictured: Tina (middle) grew up in North Devon with her mum, Pauline, and sister, Cassie.
Tina and her friend moved to the tiny island following nothing more than a gut instinct.
“In my personal life I often make decisions based on a gut instinct because it is often all any of us really have,” she said.
“Of course, we can also go off available information and previous experiences, but I have a good gut instinct and I find that if I don’t follow it, I always find that I should have.
“I had a fantastic time working in Sark from Easter to October. Anyone who has done seasonal work knows that it’s great fun, but it is also massively hard work. I adjusted well to life in Sark because it was similar to where I had been in Devon. Workers who came from cities didn’t stay very long because it was such an unfamiliar lifestyle.”
After her season in Sark came to an end, Tina moved to Guernsey.
“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or where I wanted to be, so I only planned on staying in Guernsey for six months, then never left,” she said.
“I don’t have anywhere else that I would consider ‘home’. My childhood memories are all from North Devon, but my family later moved back to Blackpool. It’s a weird feeling because where my family are, I don’t have memories and where my memories are, I don’t have any family.”
Pictured: Tina is an avid sea swimmer and uses the opportunity to catch up with friends while enjoying the "multiple health benefits".
Although Tina was not born and raised in Guernsey, it would be impossible to know that in talking with her. We shared a mutual love of the island and Tina perfectly articulated my own experience of moving away.
“Guernsey does get under your skin. I have noticed that a lot of people from here who choose to move away seem to have a pull to come back; it would be rare for a person to leave without leaving at least a part of their heart here,” she said.
Tina tries to take part in community activities when time allows and has volunteered for various organisations over the years.
“I am always sticking my hand up for things. I have volunteered at the women’s refuge and for Liberate. I played a key role in organising the first Pride event on the island because I have a background in event management,’ she said.
“I have been volunteering for meals on wheels for three or four years. Between working and my daughter I don’t have time to volunteer as much as I used to, but meals on wheels is one shift a month and it’s something I have managed to continue with.”
Pictured: Tina lives on the east coast of the island and said she can see the sunrise from her house.
Tina has one daughter, Phoebe, and was an only child herself for six years before her sister was born.
“I didn’t like Cassie (her sister) at all when we were children, it’s not a secret in the family that she was quite a difficult child,” she said.
“I had a turbulent childhood, but I was always independent from a very young age, which made the age difference between me and Cassie seem massive. We are much closer now, even though she lives in Australia,” she said.
Although Tina grew up with her mother and sister, she would regularly visit her Dad and two brothers in the North West during the school holidays.
“I was also very close to my maternal grandparents who had moved to Devon to be closer to us. My Nanna is still alive and kicking, but sadly my Grandad isn’t, and he is greatly missed,” she said.
Tina has a daughter who is approaching 13-years-old.
“I have all the love in the world for Phoebe, but I have never been the maternal type. Neither my mother nor my grandmother were either; we would say that we aren’t ‘apple-pie’ mums,” she said.
“Motherhood didn’t come particularly naturally to me. I did struggle after Phoebe was born and one of the nurses said that I was suffering from postnatal depression, although it was not severe."
Pictured: Tina was extremely close to her maternal grandparents, Patrick and Maureen, who lived in North Devon as she was growing up.
Tina continued: “A contributing factor was that I am a perfectionist. A doctor once explained to me that perfectionists tend to find motherhood difficult because we like everything to be in order and it is impossible to have anything in order with a baby and it’s completely out of your control.”
Although Tina was in a relationship with Phoebe’s father, things didn’t work out romantically and they have shared care for her for “most of her life”.
“A lot of people say how difficult it must be that I only see Phoebe half the time, but that’s where the selflessness of motherhood kicks in because I know it’s not about me missing her, it’s about her having a relationship with her father and making memories,” she said.
“It did become easier over time and it’s been like this for so long that it’s normal for us. It’s always been about making it work the best way we can and doing the best thing for Phoebe, even if it’s uncomfortable to be away from her.”
Tina said that she has enjoyed motherhood more as Phoebe grew up.
“The baby years were not my favourite but once Phoebe was able to communicate I really enjoyed that. It’s like having a little best mate, but who you have to do quite a lot for,’ she said.
“Phoebe and I are quite similar and the more I learn about myself, the more I see the similarities.”
Pictured: Tina played a "key role" in organising Guernsey's first Pride event.
Tina explained that she feels she has come to know herself more authentically in recent years.
“I would say that the last year two years in particular I have made massive leaps forward in learning about who I am and being comfortable in my own company,” she said.
“I’m not certain on what has sparked it. The pandemic could have played a part, but I think it mostly comes down to age and that I spent a long time single which allowed me to learn more about who I am.
“I have realised that I am fairly introverted; I really value time to myself and being in my own space.”
It is often said that if you aren’t happy alone that you shouldn’t be in a relationship and Tina credits investing time in herself in allowing her to start a new relationship “in the healthiest place”.
“I was so happy alone and being single that I hesitated to get into another relationship because I didn’t want anyone disturbing that,” she said.
“But while I was out and about doing things I enjoy, like running and sea swimming, I started bumping into the same person, my now partner, Jamie.
“Neither of us had been looking for a relationship, it happened very organically. We have a lot in common and he’s become my best friend.”
Pictured: Tina loves nature and being outdoors and tries to spend time doing an outside activity at least daily.
In asking Tina about her hobbies, it only took about three seconds to realise she would never be a poster child for a sedentary lifestyle.
“I love being outdoors in nature, whether that’s sea swimming, running, cycling or even walking then I’m happy,” she said.
“I find running to be incredibly meditative. I have a busy mind and I love long distance running because my mind wonders. It always amazes me that you can run for two or three hours and be thinking the whole time but it’s important to take that time and space for your thoughts.”
Tina has completed half and full marathons, actively looks for “crazy” challenges.
“After I completed the Manchester marathon I was looking for something different. I dabbled with triathlons, but I was rubbish, so I wanted something that would make a new challenge out of running,” she said.
“I was watching TV one day and saw an event called ‘Man v Horse’ which is held in Wales and sees runners compete against horses with riders and I thought it looked amazing and completely different.”
Pictured: Tina has been volunteering for Meals on Wheels for "three to four years".
Tina explained that runners were given a 15-minute head start against the horses on the 22-mile cross country event and that the horses stopped halfway to be vet checked.
“The event was so exciting. Unless you have been to Wales it is impossible to relay the hills there; they are insane. I had trained on the cliffs in Guernsey but that is very short, sharp inclines. The hills in Wales were never ending,” said Tina.
“I had never wondered if I could outrun a horse, because on the flat the obvious answer is no, but on that terrain it’s a different story. I managed to finish ahead of 12 of the horses.”
Pictured: Tina said that her new partner, Jamie, is her "best friend" and gets on well with her daughter.
If racing against an animal built for running wasn’t enough, Tina has also competed in a 100km, 24-hour running event.
“There was no set way to complete the 100km, there was just a 10km loop and it was down to each runner how they wanted to undertake the challenge,” she said
“I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I wanted to complete the full 100km. I stopped at various points to eat or to have a bit of a sleep and managed to complete the full 100km in around 21 hours, including the breaks.
“One of the things that was great about that challenge was the people I met along the way. It’s interesting to chit chat about why they decided to run and learn a little about them.”
While Tina has always been committed to her physical health it is only in recent years that she has focused more on her mental health and wellbeing.
“I think because of the pandemic everyone has become more aware of the importance of good mental health and learning what works for you to maintain that,” she said.
“I have always lived by the sea and for me sea swimming is really beneficial. I have a group of friends that I go with, and we have a chat and a laugh which is as beneficial as the physical side. I have also recently gotten into yoga, which is brilliant for everything.”
Pictured: Tina finished ahead of 12 horses in the annual "Man v Horse" cross-country running event in Wales.
Tina said that she tries to spend time outdoors every day and feels stifled if she hasn’t had the opportunity to do so.
“I am a planner and I get lost without a plan. I like to know what my day is going to look like ahead of time, or my weekend generally, although I really don’t like to plan further ahead than that. I’m a walking contradiction,” she said.
“I hate when you get asked in a job interview what you see yourself doing in five years’ time. Who knows? I don’t think it’s possible to plan that far ahead, the pandemic was a good example of that because that was impossible to see coming.
“While I don’t know how the future looks for me, what I would like is to maintain what I have found in beginning to crack what happiness looks like. It looks different for everyone but, for me, it’s simple, calm and easy. It’s much less grandiose that I used to think it would be.
“My aim is just to try and maintain happiness, not matter what situation I am in.”
Pictured: Tina volunteers for Liberate, an LGBTQ charity.
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