Thanks to Valerie Gough – wife, mother, grandmother and doodle owner – who has written this uplifting piece about her successful relocation from the town to the country.
Moving to the country has recently become the new utopian dream for many. For a long time it was the prerogative of newbie retirees watching Escape to The Country and they were onto a good thing. Add to the mix the recent social necessity of working from home, for those who are able, it has been a great eye opener and success for the majority. House buyers are looking for a lifestyle change, given that they can now work from home in uncertain times.
Pre Coronavirus, our relocation was a convalescent necessity. A dramatic medical emergency and subsequent loss of jobs forced us to reconsider our lifestyle. Early retirement brought with it the luxury of time. Time to search for the right location and time to consider our new priorities. Having lived in a large town within easy reach of motorways, airports, London etc., I was nervous of somewhere ‘North of Watford’ – claustrophobic cottages with little windows and beams, lack of local amenities, zero social life and no lamp posts!
I needn’t have worried; we now live in a cavernous barn conversion (with beams) on a farm in the middle of fields! Definitely no light pollution here. In Spring our garden is the M25 for birds, zooming about their nest building business. There are so many varieties I need a bird identification book. The other evening we sat in the garden mesmerised by a buzzard (maybe?) swirling around in the thermals for at least 20 minutes before it disappeared from sight. Who needs mindfulness calm apps in the country.
In the winter a log fire is a satisfying and relaxing evening necessity rather than a home fashion accessory. An English version of the Swedish Hygge.
My daily gym session is walking the dog, my beauty therapy is weather assisted micro exfoliation courtesy of rain and wind in the winter! Along with my healthy glowing complexion, clear bright eyes and lightened hair from long summer days in the garden. Stretch classes are lopping and pruning cherry trees and wisteria. Weight loss plans are a healthy appetite and improved metabolism aided by being surrounded by trees positively hurling life-giving oxygen at you. Tap water is pure and soft.
The first week we moved in people kept knocking at the door introducing themselves. Coming from somewhere where we barely knew or spoke to our adjacent neighbours I realised eventually they were welcoming us to the village. Invitations for coffee, drinks, supper parties abounded. Every year there are bonfire nights, carol singing and Summer tea parties in the village field. We all meet to pick the apples in the village orchard and take them to the local agricultural college to be pressed and bottled.
I can confidently say hi to, and am familiar with, over half of the village population. The sense of belonging is a lovely feeling. It feels like home.
As for culture there is an arts centre in the local riverside town with a cinema and staged productions. A programme of town event festivals throughout the year are often held in the Abbey grounds and alongside the river. Schools and modern housing are plentiful and we’ve excellent doctor surgeries where you can be seen on the same morning of your ‘phone call.
Country life is not living in some ‘back water behind the times’ place as I once arrogantly assumed. People are very invested. Londoners looking for ‘vibes’ will find plentiful coffee shops, places to lunch, genuine pubs and award winning restaurants. Runnings clubs are spoilt for choice, hill, dale, riverside or canal path and cycling hazards are mainly inhaled bugs.
Being fortunate to live in – and constantly exploring – the local countryside and beyond has heightened my realisation of what a beautiful country we live in. In these recent restrictive times we have adjusted our holiday expectations, disinclined to board a plane even if there is one, and there are many discussions of holidays in the UK with the feeling of let’s be loyal and support our own tourist industry.
If I think of any disadvantages, I’ll let you know…
Lots more inspiring stories from A&G writers can be discovered here