Ahhh, the countryside, where everyone knows everyone and the only sound you will hear is the birds chirping outside. FYI those birds can be a wee bit annoying when they start that dawn chorus at 4am. However, I much prefer bird song as opposed to being woken up at 3am when the drunken night club revellers made their way home. Yes, country life is very different and in some ways it has been a bit of a shock to the system, a good shock but still a shock all the same. Here are nine things I have learnt since moving to the countryside.
You will be sharing your garden with Penfold
When we first moved into the cottage we noticed 2 objects stuck into the grass of the garden. We presumed that they were solar nights and so were very baffled when these lights never came on. We were also rather disgruntled by the high-pitch noise the non-solar lights emitted at various intervals.
After much googling and musing on my part I declared them to be cat alarms. I was wrong but not a million miles off. It turns out they are mole alarms. Our garden has a very determined mole and those alarms keep him from destroying our garden. Obviously, I have named him Penfold. There is also another burrow of sorts in our garden which probably belongs to a field mouse. Yep, it appears our garden is home to Dangermouse.
Everyone Knows Your Name
In our old house we were surrounded by neighbours. Our house actually looked onto flats, and we had a house either side of us. Despite us living in such close proximity to so many people, we actually knew very little about our neighbours. All we knew was what we had gleaned from their daily habits. I could tell you when neighbour 1 left for work, the days he came home for lunch and when his girlfriend would be coming to stay (the sound of the vacuum was normally the signal for an imminent visit). I could also tell you that the workout couple only took 1 rest day a week, she was very intelligent, him less so. She liked to have her morning smoothie as she read the Financial Times, he preferred to use this time to check himself out in the mirror, complete with bicep flexes.
In some ways I knew so much about my neighbours, we were almost on intimate terms, yet I only knew the name of one. On the second day of living in the countryside our closest neighbour had been over to introduce herself, let’s call her Marjorie (this is not her real name) and she helpfully informed me when the bins should be put out. I also learnt from that short conversation her thoughts on travel, what she had done before she retired, and her political beliefs. I was also asked the question that I dread the most – “Are you a Jersey born and bred”. For some reason this really grates me and my naturally reaction is to slip into my best Mockney accent and declare “Naaaah, I’m an Essex girl, ain’t I”. Despite the dreaded Jersey question she seemed lovely and it was lovely to meet a neighbour!
Our postman is like Postman Pat (before he got cocky). He waves to me as he goes past our house and always has a smile on his face. He also told me to leave the shed unlocked and that he would leave any parcels for us in there. He seemed very confused when I said I couldn’t possibly do that because it wouldn’t be very security conscious. Out in the country it appears we leave our doors, windows and cars unlocked. Not me though, I might not live in Leeds anymore but I still have the Leeds mentality – lock it down or expect to be robbed!
The Local Shop
When we lived in town our local shop was a chain supermarket where you never had the same cashier more than once. Everything was clearly labelled. Our local shop is now the farm shop and what a glorious place it is to visit. A cake counter that shouts temptation and an array of beautiful fresh fruit and vegetables. It was here that I decided to purchase some particularly juicy looking oranges. When I took them to the cashier called Linda (It’s always Linda, I don’t know if she gets any time off, I hope she does) I was asked if I was planning on making some marmalade.
“Ha” I scoffed, “Not likely”
Linda had looked at me all confused and asked why I was buying Seville oranges then. I replied somewhat confused, “Well to eat”. Linda had then laughed,
“Oh these aren’t eating oranges, you will get a nasty surprise. Very bitter”
“I didn’t know” I mumbled. “They just looked so juicy” I lamented as I clutched the oranges.
It seems in the countryside food isn’t labelled. I am expected to know what is an eating and non-eating orange. Am I the only one who didn’t realise that you couldn’t eat Seville oranges? Probably.
There Are Still Traffic Jams
I thought that moving to the country would mean no more traffic jams. Not true, there are still traffic jams but this time it is caused by tractors. I don’t get stressed about it, I just enjoy the view.
The Countryside Is Actually Very Noisy
I thought living in the countryside was supposed to be all about the peace and quiet but the countryside is actually really noisy. A different type of noise. The roaring of “yoofs” doughnutting around the neighbouring carpark has been replaced by birds chirping, church bells ringing and tractors beeping as they navigate the narrow country lanes.
You Will Need A Pair Of Wellies By The Door
I’m now a walking/stamping countryside cliché. I have a pair of Hunters wellies by the door, ready for when I am going stamping down the country lanes. You will need those wellies because the lanes will be muddy and it will rain a lot over winter. You will also find that you still want to go outside despite the rain. Next you will be taking up other country pursuits such as clay pigeon shooting and horse riding.
You will never get tired of the view and pinch yourself every time you look out of the window. Previously your house looked onto the flats and their balconies. This meant every breakfast would be spent trying to avoid seeing Barry scratching his nuts as you chowed down on your boiled egg. Now every morning you are greeted by a squirrel harvesting his nuts. Those are the nuts I would much rather see in the morning.
The Great Countryside Bake Off
You will suddenly have an overwhelming desire to bake all of the time. You will be baking so much that you could easily set up your own bakery. The family will be delighted by this new you.
You Have More Time
You feel like you have more time. No longer do you feel the need to smash your deadlines, you start turning down work and you make more time for you and your family. You don’t feel the need to march to the beat of someone else’s drums.
One Thing That Hasn’t Changed
I was hoping that moving house would mean that I would start sleeping better. That the shroud of silence, uninterrupted by the night-time activities of town, would mean that I would be getting a peaceful night’s sleep. It appears not. I am still not sleeping and I am still shaking Mr C awake in the middle of the night, asking him why he is in my bed. Yep, Mr C has the patience of a saint. I am hopeful that a good night’s sleep is just around the corner though.
I have to say that I am loving living in the countryside. Next, I will be inviting the vicar round for tea. It won’t be like the time my dad invited the vicar round, less said about that the better.