I first set foot in the Algarve in 1982 and a bond was formed immediately. I always had a sense that it would ultimately be home. And the perfect location for a recovering politician.
I started off as an academic, with lectureships at Brunel and Oxford universities. I could have had a quiet, bookish life. But lecturing about politics drifted into doing politics, and although the involvement was supposed to be temporary, it didn’t turn out that way.
I started out on Oxfordshire council, serving as its leader for 6 years. That ended when I became one of the Blair babes, and was swept into Parliament on the 1997 landslide, for Leamington and Warwick. I was its first ever Labour MP. I held the seat for 13 years and served in both the Blair and Brown governments as a welfare minister.
After leaving Parliament, I became Senior Counsel to the Cicero Group, advising companies on their dealings with government and Parliamentarians.
After that, it was back to the Algarve, where I now live permanently in Lagos with husband Andrew.
We love everything about the area. We have found it easy to acquire a large circle of friends, helped by our regular dog walking!
And there is so much going on here, and so much to enjoy and to inspire. We are having a house built in Meia Praia. But we know we are already home.