Life in a tiny village

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

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It’s almost exactly a year since we placed our offer on this house, and committed to actually doing it; to leaving the city-living we’d always known, and moving out to somewhere sleepy, rural and green.
I remember being desperately excited, sure it would never really happen for us, but also, particularly in the small hours of the night, a little bit terrified.
A year on I thought I’d share my reality, for anyone harboring similar dreams & fears…

I can live without shops. In the city we’d been regular visitors to our local late-night Co-op. I wondered what would happen on those nights where we suddenly discovered – EMERGENCY – we were fresh out of soy sauce or pasta (or wine). The truth is, of course, we manage fine; we eat other things, we cook more creatively, we make things from scratch because it’s easier than getting in the car and driving out to buy them. (Except for the wine, which is always worth it.)
We still eat out. Because we were living in a rubbish part of the city, every decent pub, cafe or restaurant was a car ride away. This has actually slightly improved – we now have a couple of nice pubs within walking distance, providing you don’t mind the hills. We still order takeaway for delivery online, but the selection isn’t great and we have yet to find a decent Chinese. Health and budget wise, that might be a good thing overall.
It feels so much safer. Even in the pretty & quiet parts of Manchester, I was always aware of my vulnerability; my friends & I have endless tales of being harassed, followed, groped and mugged whilst growing up in a relatively safe and progressive city. Out here, I go walking after dark and feel safe in a way I’ve never known before – safe with the owls and the deer and the bats. They couldn’t fit in amongst the noise and smoke, either. I can let Orla run out of sight down a cobbled passageway and know that there’s nothing but a cat & a field around the corner waiting for her. I don’t worry all day about whether I remembered to lock the door; the phonebox library and egg-seller’s honesty box are respected and honored. Nobody steals your hanging baskets.
The people are lovely. Mary, who lives a few houses away, bakes us apple pies, sneaks cakes into our kitchen and openly calls me her second daughter. The village mums are friendly and welcoming, and there are lots of creative, liberal, like-minded people we’re getting to know.

Some people are rude. The man who lives opposite threatened to kill my chicken. The owners of the nearest pub are like a caricature of insular Yorkshire pub owners, and very bad-tempered. When my car broke down outside, they wouldn’t let me use their phone to call my recovery service!
You get used to the commute. I worried about this more than anything – previously struggling to leave the house in time for my 20-minute city journey, the thought of over an hour with Orla in the car filled me with horror. It was a genuine surprise to find how quickly I got used to it; within a few weeks I was in the routine, and actually enjoying it! I’ve found a sneaky back route and the ultimate travel coffee cup, so my mornings with the road and my latest audiobook are actually pretty nice.
It’s good for the soul. It’s impossible to say it without resorting to cliches, but seeing the sky, watching the weather, lighting fires, digging snow, gathering wildflowers, running down hills… this is the stuff we were built to do, and it’s the closest I’ve ever been to a sense of peace in my body and mind.

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Do you dream of running away to the countryside, or is village life your idea of hell? Got any questions I haven’t answered here?

33 Comments

  • Sofia

  • September 11, 2016

Hi dear, I just found your wonderful blog and I’ve read your posts for like 2 hours now (and I’m not done yet). I’m trying to slow down and live a still, peaceful, more meaningful life even though I’m living in a very big city. But, every day I think about how great it would be to move out to the countryside and live with nature, far away from stress, shops and millions of people. In a few years I hope it’ll come true. I also want to thank you for your very good advice on how to start living a slow life. I’ve been sitting with my pencil and notebook, writing like crazy while reading your posts. So, thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you <3

  • Sara Tasker

  • January 05, 2016

Wow, your experience of rural life sounds horrific! I’m counting myself lucky we live in our little community with it’s nearby towns and public transport.

  • mawdesleytractor

  • January 03, 2016

Growing up in a village, (albeit the tiny, horrible, inbred, snobby village of Mawdesley in Lancashire) I can say that after the age of 10 all the benefits were outweighed by the sheer hassle of living somewhere so obscure. Daily things like getting to school, college, meeting friends, long commutes to work, was a real chore. You couldn’t just hop on a bus, there were no buses, or trains, or anything. It was impossible to gain any independence, you had to be ferried everywhere by your parents – and that’s if they would. Always feel I missed out on my youth by having grown up in such an isolated rather lifeless place as Mawdesley.

Personally I found living in the countryside a very lonely, alienating, not to mention a very boring existence. No one lived anywhere near where I did so it was a very easy place to end up completely alienated.
Life in Mawdesley depended entirely on the car. No local amenities, no public transport, no pavements, and miles from anywhere. Because the surrounding countryside in Mawdesley was so horrible (flat, featureless bog land) we often drove miles out of the village to find somewhere nice to walk or cycle. God knows why my parents choose such a grim place to live, given that it was so expensive, even then.

If you weren’t an inbred farmer type or from a millionaire family then you were out of place in Mawdesley. I was from neither. Very weird place to grow up.

  • Emma Tustian

  • July 14, 2015

Ah, the being within walking distance of shops is what I hate. The nearest one to us is only 2.5 miles away, but there’s several huge hills (not really safely walkable with the bendy road) between us and it, the rest are 7 miles away, so everything is done by car. I do miss being able to just go for a walk round a village – we’re in between 3 – it’s more like a trek to walk anywhere, and just boring fields. (I was brought up in a large village)

But the life is lovely, especially for children

  • Kelsey Douglas

  • April 13, 2015

Thank you, it was and now I think I’m ready to adjust back. I think….it’s such a big decision.x

  • Naomi clarke

  • April 12, 2015

Ahh love this post, and the last caption about it being good for the soul is so heart warming. It’s so true and I think doing all those things with little ones makes you so grateful for the simple things in life. Watching your little ones outside just playing makes you feel so free.mlovely post. ️Xxx

  • Faye Larsen

  • April 12, 2015

I love that you wrote that driving out to get wine is always worth it…yes, yes it is. And I also really badly want a neighbour like Mary. An hours commute with my little ones in tow would freak me out too, but that is probably just because Pearl is not a fan of being in the car for more than 10 minutes. Hoping she grows out of this. Curt is likely going to have to commute to Manchester when we move back (though first I need to work on actually persuading him that he wants to leave Aus and all the world class surf breaks! Bit harder for him as he is a South African and England is not his home), That or I am living in hope he may consider a career change into farming and work with my Dad on his farm! A girl can dream, right xxx

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 11, 2015

Haha yep, people suck and people rock regardless, it seems! Pet rabbit stealers sound like the worst!!
I think having a baby out here would be a totally different experience to what I had in the city. Perhaps I’ll try it out one day… 😉 x

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 11, 2015

Ah, it feels like no time at all since we were exactly where you are! I think if it’s calling to you, it’s the right move, and things will happen.
Wishing you lots of luck in your big changes! Looking forward to following along 🙂 xx

  • TheDaydreamerDiary

  • April 10, 2015

Well, this is the eternal question that has been tearing us apart for some time now, so your experience will be read, and re-read for useful guidelines and inspiration as we try to change our way of life. We have not succeeded much so far – still pretty much in the urban grinder we are, tied to jobs, schools and what not… But we have faith and reading that others have had successful moves and shifts in life is encouraging. Wishing you a pleasant ride to school today and a lovely week-end ahead!

  • Lily Panyacosit

  • April 09, 2015

We have definite dreams of moving to the countryside, with our three lovely daughters. But for now, we live in San Francisco, a wonderful bustling city, the city I grew up in. I live with nostalgia for the “good ole days” of San Francisco, when it was not so “techie”. We would love to buy a farm, but we are kind of stuck here for now, so for now, I will just live vicariously through your posts and pictures. Thank you for sharing, Sara!

  • Charlotte {theteapotexplodes}

  • April 09, 2015

I do love the look of your village. I am a city girl at heart but growing up in Auckland, NZ, I was pretty lucky to have the best of both worlds. Wild beaches nearby, lush rain forest, a big rose garden and a city centre only a short drive or bus ride away. Now these days, I do love London terribly but wonder how people cope here when they have babies or are old. Hmmm. One thing I have learnt from living on both sides of the world. You can have lovely neighbours (who you drink wine with in the garden) or horrible neighbours (who cut down your beloved trees and steal your pet rabbit) on both sides of the world. Stay away from anyone who threatens your hen! x Charlotte

  • Helen Stephens

  • April 09, 2015

When Frieda flees for the big city, she doesn’t know, but we are going with her! We love country life, but fancy city life when we’re old.

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 09, 2015

I love hearing from people who did the opposite, because it’s exactly what I imagine Orla will do. I like the idea of ‘someday I’ll head back’; I hope she’ll grow up to go anywhere she wants, but to always call this place home x

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 09, 2015

Crossing my fingers for you too! Moving to London must have been a pretty huge adjustment! Hope your forever home finds you soon x

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 09, 2015

Ah, I know Lyme Park well, mainly from my teenage re-enactments of Pride and Prejudice 😉 Having little ones definitely makes things like green space and snowfall feel more important, doesn’t it? This winter was Orla’s first sledging experience – one day the snowfall was so heavy I had to abandon the car and Rory came and met us with the sledge! Only an ex-city girl would find that joyful! 😀 x

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 09, 2015

I can’t imagine moving back now! It’s funny how quickly we adapt, isnt it? x

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 09, 2015

Ah Kate, this makes me sad for you, though I’m sure you’re loving lots about living in the city too! They both have their upsides for sure. Come & visit us here, and have a bit of a countryside top-up sometime! xx

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 09, 2015

See, I suspect this will be Orla’s view as she grows older. I’m pretty much resigned to the idea that she’ll flee for the city as soon as she’s old enough, and never look back. I hope she’s always glad to come home for visits though, and always knows its here when she wants it 🙂
Starbucks is overrated, but the job opportunities is a real sticking point. I hope you get a mini escape to the seaside soon! xx

  • megan

  • April 09, 2015

Village life sounds amazing!! I currently live in a small town that I actually grew up in. When I was younger I hated how little there was to do, but now I don’t mind it too much, although my mind does wonder to life near a beach more than necessary. And I do wish we had a Starbucks! I do wish there was more job opportunities as well.

  • Kate | Netherleigh

  • April 08, 2015

Such a beautiful little village, Sara! I’m so glad you’re exactly where you want to be. We’ve just had to move back to the city after nearly two years of blissful life in the country (it’s a renters life). I miss life in our little valley so very much, the horses and foxes, the quiet and the sky.

  • Abigail

  • April 08, 2015

I’ve only just moved into the city from the countryside and I’m already looking forward to moving back again. You just can’t beat the country for a sense of calm and serenity.
http://www.thesnugblog.com
x

  • Rabya Lomas

  • April 08, 2015

Lovely post with gorgeous photos. My husband and I moved to a rural location last September when we found out I was expecting. I really love the quiet, and we’re so lucky to have Lyme Park around the corner. When my little one arrives and he’s old enough I can’t wait to take him to the park for sledging on those hills in the snow 🙂 I too work in city, and grew up in Manchester so I totally get why you love the countryside. X

  • Kelsey Douglas

  • April 08, 2015

I’m originally from the countryside moved to London and have been here 6 years. We’re now in the process of trying to move back- fingers crossed something crops up soon (I think we’re very nearly there…)
K.
http://www.wonderingthrough.co.uk

  • Abi | These Four Walls blog

  • April 08, 2015

Such a lovely account – and much of it sounded very familiar! I actually did the opposite – I grew up in the Peak District and escaped to the city, but I’m sure one day I’ll head back in the other direction. The little things really do make rural life special – whenever I visit my home village I love breathing in the fresh air, listening to the owls and seeing the stars.

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 08, 2015

Five years! You’re way ahead of me 🙂 Ducks and hens are such a great pleasure, and so full of character.
You put it perfectly; people are just people, wherever you go. The good thing about living is the country is there are less of them, so it’s easier to figure out who the bad ones are and keep out of their way 😉 xx

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 08, 2015

Well I’m glad I’m able to help you out with the dream, at least a little bit ;). You should definitely come and stay one day!
It wasn’t a silly question at all. It’s a really annoying glitch! Argh! xx

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 08, 2015

Yes! We got a whole lot more house for our money out here than we would have done in a villagey-city area. I grew up in an area just like that and loved it. I think the tipping point for us was the realisation that, though the cinema and bars were near enough, we never actually went out to them because of Orla! Haha! x

  • Sara Tasker

  • April 08, 2015

Thanks Helen. Great minds! 😉 x

  • niki thomas

  • April 08, 2015

We left suburbia five years ago and never never have we looked back.
People are people, good and bad, wherever you live (this very morning, the padlock on the honesty box for the church stall had been broken). My dream of keeping hens a reality now with ducks flying in daily for brunch.
Your post is thought provoking Sara, with gorgeous photos, as always.

  • Caitlin

  • April 08, 2015

You’re living my dream life 🙂 I would love more than anything to escape city life and live in a small English village. Sigh. I’m thankful that I can live that dream vicariously through your blog!

  • Sarah Rooftops

  • April 08, 2015

I love this post. At the moment, we’re very happy in the city – we’re in a bit which feels like a little village and is surrounded by riverside walks and trees – but part of me is aware that we could so easily swap the 31 years remaining of our mortgage for a completely mortgage free life in the tiny town my mum lives in. On the other hand: there’s no cinema there…

  • Helen Stephens

  • April 08, 2015

Lovely photos, I took a pic of that door with the 1950’s fabric too!

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