Wednesday, 9 February 2011
On country living
Can you believe it's a year since we left London and moved to Somerset? A entire 12 months has come and gone and we are still here. Still enjoying it. If we had been giving it a year I wouldn't be ready to move on yet.
That said, I have learnt a few things about country living. From the basics such as weather appropriate coat and boots (I have a tweed coat which is waterproof and warm but isn't a raincoat with all important decent pockets and Timberland boots which look good but have proper treads to cope with our road which is actually a country lane) and carrying a torch, to the importance of getting to know neighbours and becoming part of the community, I feel a lot more at home here than I ever did in London.
If you're going to live in the countryside, you have to be organised. The shops do close at 5.30pm in the weekdays and most of the village shops are only open on Saturday mornings. There is one place you can buy milk up til 10pm every day of the week but only if they haven't run out. It is a 45 minute drive to the nearest clothing shops or cinema - outings are less spontaneous than they were in London. Oil and wood run out. In London, the worst that would happen was that you would get a large bill. Here, if you run out of oil you don't have any heating or hot water. You might be able to get a next day delivery but more likely than not, you won't. (Did I mention that none of the village gets gas?)
A car is pretty essential. We've been making it work this week without one, but it's hard. The buses are infrequent and inconveniently spaced. The last one back to the village leaves at 5.30pm. Taxis are expensive but it pays to get to know the company in the village. Just make sure you don't run out of fuel - petrol stations up on the moor are few and far between and such that there are, are extremely expensive. And closed, outside of normal hours.
Cottages are cold. Pyjamas are essential (I recommend Hush's by the way. Warm but still attractive) as are slippers/alpaca socks/Ugg boots. A slightly different wardrobe too, than a city one. I wear a lot of black to work but outside, black looks extremely harsh. I wear a lot more grey than I did before. More muted I guess. I haven't worn my sequinned vintage 80s roller girl top down here, or my sequinned leggings. There is less call for going out shoes too, or at least for me. I save those for my trips back to London.
Internet shopping has become my best friend. Literally everything (almost) that you could want, you can buy online and they will deliver. Although not to the house. No courier company can ever find it, despite it having a postcode and them having satnav. Still, clothes, books, shoes, shampoo, toiletries and even 2 coffee cups have been delivered to me over the reception desk at work.
What it lacks in shopping though it more than makes up for it when you can walk out of the front door, down the lane, to the beach. Or turn the other way, up the bridle path and up onto the moor. When you can watch birds in the garden, birds of prey over ancient woodland just metres from the garden, when you see deer on your drive home and often follow a badger or rabbits up the road from the village. When the air is clean and fresh and has a slight taint of salt to the taste and rain to the feel. When you lie in bed and all you can hear is the river running in the garden, and the dawn chorus sounds in the morning. The brightness of the stars and being aware of the cycle of the moon - I know when it's a full moon because I don't need a torch to get from the car to the front gate and I can see dimly in the bedroom once the lights have been turned off.
No, I am not ready to trade this in just yet. Although I think I've still got a lot to learn about country living.
Photo by me of my Hush pyjamas.