We moved to the Cheshire/Shropshire/Welsh border about 14 years ago. I can quite categorically say it’s not for everyone! So I thought you might like to know how I find life as one of the real country wives there…
Previously we had lived for 11 years in a converted barn, part of an old farm complex. I thought that was the country. It wasn’t. It was a rural suburb of a very large town. With all the creature comforts that had to offer – such as mains sewers, gas, takeaway deliveries, a taxi service and neighbours close by.
I live in my dream home in a wonderful location. It’s definitely not like “Cheshire Housewives” that you may have watched on TV. I’m prompted to write this today as I’ve been up since 7.30am but haven’t managed to get my breakfast yet and it’s 11am. The reason being there’s lots to do in the country – those beautiful countryside homesteads take some looking after, as do the animals. The animals come first.
Although my parents were city dwellers, I kept a pony on the local farm where we used to live ever since I was 10 years old. I’ve just always loved animals and the rural countryside. If you don’t love being outside in all weathers, cracking the ice for the animals to drink water, dragging bales of hay across a snowy field, and trying to fix a quad bike that’s stuck in the mud, then it’s not for you.
After you’ve fed the animals you then come back to the house, go outside to put some washing in the utility room only to find all the outside water pipes are frozen. This means the washrooms are out of use and it may be a few days before that changes. You’ve got to learn to just wait and go with it.
However the log fires are roaring (plenty of wood was chopped down in the summer and dried for winter), lots of tasty jams made in autumn and fruit from the orchard frozen: a crumble is on its way.
Cars! Well you really do need a 4 wheel drive. Where we live the back lane is often covered in snow, iced over or there’s so much mud you’ve got to plough your way through.
My car is also invaluable to take animals to the vets, transport bales of hay or straw and wood chippings for horse’s beds, as well for a mega shop once every couple of weeks. I find with 4 of us working from home, my parents in my bubble, 3 large horses, 3 dogs and a cat to feed, that’s quite a lot of shopping to fit in the back of any car.
The benefits of living in the country are numerous though and I couldn’t live any where else now. Nature is literally right on my doorstep and I connect with it and live with the seasons as nature intended. This includes harvesting our own hay, having a flower meadow, and growing lots of fresh fruits and vegetables.
And a gentle word of advice – don’t complain to the locals if you move to rural pastures. You may be known as a “blow in” – yes, the name for those that have blown in from the cities who generally don’t stay that long, their country dream often turning into a country struggle.
You really have got to be strong, resilient and adapt quickly to your surroundings. No whingeing about not being able to buy exotic ingredients for your Persian recipe from the local shop for example! Eyebrows will be raised and the next time you venture there you will hear whispers from the staff, “It’s her again. The one who wanted pomegranate seeds last January!”
If you’re single and have an idea about moving to a really rural area, think very carefully and ask yourself why. You won’t have a cat in hell’s chance of meeting a friendly farmer who is single! Believe me, they’re all taken and if they’re not, there’s a very good reason for it.
So if you relish the idea of a takeaway at 9pm on a Saturday, or the thought of your electricity blacking out terrifies you (big store of candles in our pantry), if you like continental foods and require them 24/7, or you like to be dressed smartly and don’t fancy wearing clumpy wellington boots, then I’m not sure if moving to the country is for you!
Ooh and did I mention the internet! And a mobile phone signal?
Seriously ladies, the benefits of being one of the country wives are immense. Plenty of quiet time to write, especially now. Glorious nature surrounding you. Animals that give great joy. You certainly won’t need a gym – just try throwing bales of hay around, mucking out three big stables and then taking your dogs for a walk. You’ll have probably already done about 15,000 steps, lifted countless kilograms of weights and got lots of fresh air, before you even think about your online fitness class!
Evenings are a long hot bath (did you see my post last week), a piping hot casserole out of the AGA, and some gentle TV drama. I sleep like a log and I really wouldn’t live anywhere else.
However I’m very lucky to have a loving husband of 34 years who helps with all the chores. After fourteen years I feel I’m a real country wife now – the rural life is definitely for me!
Have a lovely week ladies and, if you can, get out into a green space and breathe!
Best wishes, Lesley