My five year old just asked me what I was doing so I told her I was writing. “What about Mummy?” The countryside and how it feels to live here. “It feels lovely and we get to go on nice walks.” So there you go, straight from the mouth of my babe.
It’s been a dream since I was 15 years old although I didn’t know it at the time, not until I climbed off the coach at the youth hostel in Ilam for a dull-arse geography trip (that actually turned out to be pretty amazing). I never expected to fall in love with the countryside and I most certainly didn’t voice my feelings to my friends. I was un-cool enough as it was. After that I secretly bought Country Living magazine and dreamed of the days I would live in a little village with all my children, dogs and chickens, baking delicious treats for my brood and picking wild flowers.
Fifteen years on and I’m finally a resident of the Derbyshire Dales I fell in love with all that time ago. It’s been a long old slog to get here, set backs and doubts, but two babies later and we decided we had to remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle of suburb life for a quieter and slower existence.
I find myself telling anyone who will listen I still can’t believe we live here. Three months on and it feels like an extended holiday, albeit one that includes the school run, but a wonderful holiday none the less. We go for walks most days if the weather holds, it’s become an after-tea ritual that I love, and have become well acquainted with the horses in the field at the end of our road and the lambs we’ve watched grow from tinies. Watching the girls really enjoy their surroundings has made the slog so worth it, our eldest now is the most fearless little girl who thinks nothing of climbing over stiles, walking through a field of cows and running up to the tame sheep and stroking them. And the baby, she is so aware of everything; pointing to the flowers and trees, getting excited when the sheep come up to say hello and dipping her toes in the stream that runs through the bottom of the village. These girls are living a childhood I could only dreamt of having, all this clean air and opportunities they wouldn’t necessarily have had where we lived before. Well-dressing, maypole dancing, feeding the animals at the farm after school.
Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t perfect. We still have some of the same problems as before and we miss our families like mad; it’s heartbreaking to not have them around to see our children grow up but this was always about our own little family living a happier life somewhere we love. It’s hard not having babysitters on tap when we want to go out for a child-free dinner or watch a film at the cinema, really hard (first world problems). But we’ve been welcomed into this wonderful community and made some great friends already. I do miss Domino’s (they won’t deliver, no takeaway place will actually – we’re a little too remote!) and walking to the Co-Op for wine but we have three pubs on our doorstep and the food is amazing, so much so that I can’t bear to stand on and look at the scales.
I’ve never felt so settled in my life and I’ve moved around a fair bit. If you’re thinking about moving to the countryside I say just do it. Don’t dilly-dally, especially not if you have children, waste no time. If it means a move of schools don’t let that put you off because whether it turns out to be easy or a headache, it’ll be very much worth it in the end. Why?
You breathe in fresh air everyday. Alright, it might be cow pat infused but that’s a fresh as it comes. We’ve had family come to stay who usually are up late but have been in bed by 9pm because the fresh air has “done me in”.
Life is slower. You really cannot get anywhere in a hurry, you are forced to slow down. If you need to be somewhere by 10 you’d better leave at 9:15 because you will bump into people who want to have an actual conversation with you (shock horror – you don’t get that in London) and do you know what? It’s lovely. People genuinely care about your life, either that or they’re just nosey.
You feel as though you belong and it’s easy to just slot into life here. The sense of community is strong and you are included in everything. Whether you want to be involved or not is up to you but you are welcomed at every event and party. You are welcome for tea or for coffee and cake, play dates, school trips… you are welcomebecause you belong here.
It’s tranquil. Everywhere you look you see green, even in the winter, and green is a very calming colour. It’s peaceful (unless you count the random sheep baa-ing or an escaped chicken clucking as an absolute racket), especially at night.We’re finding we’re sleeping better because we feel more relaxed and I’m less neurotic and not losing my shit as much as before (working on it but 5 years olds with attitude) because of our beautiful surroundings. Life is just more chilled.
Country life is blissful.