Moving out of the city

In November we hit four years of living here. I think we can now safely say that we are not going to get cold feet and run away back to street lights and cinemas and delis. I think we are going to stay put.

A friend asked me the other day what we felt about moving out of the city and whether we felt we had made the right move. I could tell she didn't quite get it. People come up here and some say "You are living my dream" while others are too polite to say so but go away clearly thinking we are nuts. I am in list making mode today having been making Christmas lists as an alternative to actually doing something so here are

Things I miss about the city:
  1. living round the corner from a really good delicatessen.
  2. the view from Waterloo Bridge.
  3. slipping out for a curry.
  4. that sense of being at the heart of things.

and some things I don't miss:

  1. dirt, rubbish blowing the streets.
  2. crowds, especially
  3. on rush hour tubes, where you end up crushed up against somebody's armpit.
  4. noise and rush and the casual rudeness of a place which is too full.

And the downsides of living in the country?

  1. Mud. In winter you can't go outside without walking socks and rigger boots and both boots and cars are mired in mud.
  2. Distance from everything. You need to be organised to live here when running out of butter can mean a forty minute round trip.
  3. Mud, did I say that?
  4. Dust and spiders if you mind either or both. They don't really bother me. They are perhaps a reflection of living in an old house rather than a rural one.
  5. Solitude could be a downside I suppose. There is quite a lot of time on your own but I don't mind that either as long as I have a blast of sociability every few days to stop me going peculiar.

And the upsides?

  1. Space, a couple of acres to grow things in and wander about in and to really breathe.
  2. Hens, scratching and clucking and running about and making me laugh and giving us the best eggs ever.
  3. Views, green and trees down to the bottom of the valley and up to the ridge and the hills green and purple against the sky.
  4. Silence, broken by the mewing of a soaring buzzard or the distant bleating of sheep.
  5. The friendliness of people in the village, stopping, chatting, everything happening at a gentle, pottering pace.
  6. Swallows in the summer and woodpeckers on the bird feeders in winter.
  7. Starlight and a clear cold moon on nights that are truly dark.

I wouldn't change it for the world.


  1. The downsides seem very little and insignificant compared to the upsides. And you sound happy and peaceful. Priceless.

  2. I love your blast of sociability that stops you going peculiar...!!

  3. Agree with rachel. The upsides sound awfully 'up' to me!

  4. I think it's all too late to stop me going peculiar - and we don't make four years until April! Like you though I feel very happy to be here and not in the city.

  5. We always enjoy going to Edinburgh to stay with our son and for a few days living in a city seems so sophisticated. Then you get back to Derbyshire and realise how lucky you really are. Mind you the teenagers don't think so. They casn't wait to leave and go to Manchester or Sheffield.

  6. From all I have just read in this post, and in your prior postings, I firmly believe that you are living a dream life. Even with the mud. xo

  7. 4.5 years living here but 6 since we left Manchester's grimy suburbs. No regrets about making the move to the end of a muddy lane - except the omni-present mud.

    I think if I were a woman in the 1600s making a voyage into the unknown in a creaky ship then I might think more ruefully about what I have left behind - but with transport and communications being what they are I know its all very reachable - only needs a little forethought.

    This is the best of both worlds I think.

  8. I understand and agree! I grew up in central California. In a city. My parents, when the time came to move, would never listen to me and get a country place. I had to grow up and move to Idaho before I was able to live my life-long country dream. It's heaven, even with mud, long periods of winter darkness, and sometimes too much snow.

  9. Sounds like heaven to me. Have you seen the new baby yet?

  10. No contest - the 'ups' beat the 'downs' by a country mile. We don't have mud here - Vancouver Island is pretty much a big rock - but we do have rain, power outages spiders and voracious deer, offset by the cleanest air in the world and views to die for. You're living the life you want - it doesn't get better than that.

  11. Oh totally totally agree with all your points! I miss London and when I visit friends I love hearing the always present hum of life beyond the walls and windows of their houses, and I miss all the other points you made, but I love raising my daughter in the countryside. I love the country, I am happy with spiders and dust and mud washes off! Living 45 mn from London seems to be a pretty good compromise!! It sounds to me like you've got it just right as well! :)

  12. It all sounds idyllic and you obviously love it .
    And I am so not going to do it !! I'll stay in town , running my sanctuary for urban spiders .

  13. Rachel - that is how it works for me, a very personal choice I think.
    Jan - that blast is vital, without it I would start muttering to myself and growing fur.
    Fran - you pays your money and you takes your choice!
    Chris - ah, I wasn't sure how long you had been in Wales. How is the house hunting/selling going?
    Birdwatcher - hi and welcome. I am pretty sure our children would have been the same when they were teenagers. They weren't impressed when we moved off the all night bus route to another part of the city.
    Frances - I think I am yes, but it would not be everyone's I know.
    mountainear - love the image of the woman on the creaky ship! I get so seasick that is my idea of hell.
    Dimple - It is just a matter of knowing what you want isn't it? Easier to write than to do.
    QMM - I have seen the baby twice now, and he is gorgeous, as babies must be!
    Pondside - I love the idea of your island. I think that would be another place that would excite me.
    Michelloui - you sound to have found your perfect compromise. I agree with you about the sense of life being exciting in the city, but somehow I always end up wanting my green silence again.

  14. But there is an alternative! And that is the edge of the market town a mere two hours from London and another capital city within 30 minutes. With fields to walk in not two minutes away and yet a theatre, shops, a library, doctors, chemists, a supermarket, five minutes in the other direction. No crowds, litter or mud. Plenty of spiders, yes (and out house is modern. We have I like to think, the best of both world. I would like two acres, though.

  15. I know all about lists, things are practically done when they're on the list, aren't they?

    A friend just walked Benno and her dog and she came in for a cup of tea afterwards. Did you say something about mud? Want some of mine?

  16. Much prefer the mud and possible isolation of the country to the litter and crowds of the town. You have certainly made the decision that I would have chosen if I had not had others to think about.

  17. We used to be asked a lot why we chose to move to rural Brittany and had stock answers depending on whom it was who was doing the asking. Now despite yearning for more sunshine and heat every so often (and living in mud during winter as you do !)I can not imagine living anywhere else.

  18. We're in much the same situation as you, and this time of year top of my list of downsides would be mud. There's not very much else, though, I miss about the city - although I do know what you mean about that view from Waterloo Bridge on a clear, crisp morning. I think you have to be more self-sufficient in the country, but there are so many things that make it worthwhile and self-sufficiency is no bad thing. Love the sound of where you are.

  19. Everything you have listed I agree with - and we did a crazy move to here 40 years ago. The only downside I would add - and this is only of recent years - is that drivers still think they are on the motorway, even when negotiating narrow, twisting, single track country lanes. One of our children now lives in suburbia and can't wait to get back here.

  20. It seems from all the comments that you have 'hit the nail on the head'.

    Although I've never lived in a town or city I agree totally with all you say - especially the mud...

    Visited here for the first time via Arizona (thanks to Noelle, AZPlantLady) - odd, really when I live only a three hours or so away from you. The powers of the internet!

    Great blog, I shall be following.


  21. I'd say that the truly dark nights and the sky full of stars are excellent compensation for all the negatives about living in the country....wish I had the pleasure of enjoying those like you do!

  22. Been a country dweller for 60 years, 30 of them in this house. I only have third of an acre but it is ALL mud at present but the wonderful views across the valley now the trees are leafless makes up for it. Even so, a day in a large town or city is a pleasure, all those theatres and galleries but wonderful to return to dark skies and unseen puddles, and mud! Already very peculiar.

  23. I know what you mean about the mud - even 'smart' boots for going out and to work are Goretex - it's safer that way. And I am glad you have dust and spiders, too, I thought it was just incompetence on my part. I never nip out for a pint of milk, etc - I operate a larder system, buy in bulk from Suma (including flour), and order milk from Riverford and keep it in the freezer. So if ever we get snowed in, etc, we won't go hungry!

    Pomona x

  24. i don't mind mud! nor spiders. you *are* living my dream. i just don't know how to raise chickens or lavender. if i moved to the country, i would starve to death.

  25. I have presented you with an award. Please don't feel under any pressure to accept it! See my blog for further details.

  26. In the state of Pennsylvania, USA, after 30 years of living in a 200 year old house on a small farm, all the things you list as the pros and cons still hold. Hope you will enjoy 30 years of rural living.

  27. I'll take mud any day, just keep me away from crowds! Love your lists.

  28. Elizabeth, thanks again for stopping by Stickhorse Cowgirls. I love your blog and identify so much with your love of the country--I am out in the country, as well. And I, too, miss the convenience of a good deli! I have dear, dear friends just outside Cardiff. V and I are thinking that our "splurge trip" in 2011 will be to the UK, centered on Wales...still planning, but who knows! Anyway, I will love following you, I can tell.

  29. SandS - each to their own! The trick is knowing what you want to do and doing it.
    Fennie - your answer does sound good but I would really miss my two acres and my views now, I think.
    Friko - ah, I see you understand about lists, yes absolutely, practically complete now.
    SS - you can't always please yourself I know, I have been lucky that it worked out for me.

    HaH - yes, identify with the stock answers. You need to have some in reserve so you can just trot them out!
    LBD - I like self sufficiency, whether it is practical or emotional. Perhaps that is why this suits me!
    WSC - interesting about adult children and their choices. Think one of two of ours will end up in the country.
    Johnson, Hi and thanks for visiting, love the round about way you got here. The beauty of blogging!
    Sara - they very much are the compensations for me although I know they might not work for others.
    QC - with you on treeless views, although I also love the returning leaves. Peculiar, sure you aren't.
    Pomona - yes to the larder system, both store cupboard and freezer. We tend to keep a lot of supplies. Glad to find another dust and spider keeper.
    Laurie - you would be fine, needs must tends to make for quick learning!
    Johnson - thank you.
    Klofgren - I suspect these things are eternal!
    Alina - thank you. I like a list every now and then, if only to stop me waffling.
    Stickhouse - you must come up here. You can't come to Wales and only do the South, that would just be wrong!

  30. teh starlight that gets me everytime. The sheer enormity of it, it's quite quite wonderful. And to make it perfect - a decent deli!!!!

  31. Mud! I too hate the mud! Add a dog to the countryside and Winter and your car and floors are caked in Mud! hate mud. and in paris, it's mixed with dog poo as well, lovely.

  32. Again, Elizabeth, I agree with every word.

  33. I love these lists. Especially the bit about the hens scratching around. Who knew watching hens scratch around could be so nice?!

  34. I've lived in the city, the country and now, a small town. Each has pros and cons. The small town is managable, but no excitement---but excitement sounds less and less exciting to me these days. Glad you are happy and satisfied about your move to the country--considering all the drawbacks, I think it might be the best. I've just been wanting some peace and quiet lately.

  35. Oh a wonderful day. I have done pretty good with my knock-out roses, but I guess they can't really be called roses. Some beautiful pictures there. I went on a picture taking adventure today at Abby of Gethsemani and I will have a post next week. Blessings

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