So, you’re moving to the country for some…. (Part Two)





Moving on from wee beasties and things that go bump in the night, there are one or two other things you might like to think around before taking that plunge to The Country.

Here’s one – it can be really, really dark at night in the country. Darker than you might expect, if you are used to a lot of towny light pollution.

That’s when you will need to rely on your outside sensory light.

Except that, if they’re anything like ours they will never actually work on cue. Ever.  And especially never when you’ve come home very late from some rip-roaring night out wearing inappropriately tight clothing, stilettos and are also possibly a bit wobbly, shall we say?

On those nights you can guarantee your sensory light will remain unmoved and pitch black, threatening all manner of injury as you stagger to find the back door and try desperately to avoid breaking a leg over a sticky-up bit of tarmac or falling into the pot-hole that you meant to fill in weeks ago. At the very least you’ll have laddered your tights which is almost as catastrophic.  It’s a well-known country rule of thumb that if you pop outside late at night to put your milk bottles out and listen carefully, you will be able to hear many of the local inhabitants doing star jumps half way up their drives in the vain hope that their sensory light will play ball and be activated into actually LIGHTING THEIR WAY!

Those same lights will of course, however, BURST into action like Blackpool Illuminations the second a single leaf flutters past, or a hedgehog ambles into view.  And if you’ve ever made the mistake of falling prostrate and intoxicated onto the bed, (what me and The Egg? – never!) forgetting to close the curtains, then rest assured your sensory light will magically go on and off outside your window like a lighthouse beacon, waking you at approximate 30 second intervals throughout what remains of the night.

What else?

Well, it’s another interesting fact that there’s a lorra-lorra mud in the country, which I can vouch for, most particularly in Kent and East Sussex.  I’m not sure why Kent/Sussex are special that way, and I imagine others will say much the same about their own county, but being an inhabitant not to mention dog owner in the Southern regions, it appears to be true. If I get through a winter walk with the Incorrigible Lab without being plastered head to toe in the stuff – or worse going head first into it leaving my welly boot stuck fast in the bog behind me I consider it a win.

In fact, apparently (and I’m not absolutely convinced this story is true but it sounds about right – perhaps someone knows?) – the reason there are so many ‘Inns’ in Kent and Sussex is that back in the 17th /18th centuries so many horse drawn carriages repeatedly got their huge wheels stuck in the prolific mud that they had to build loads of overnight resting places – Inns – for folks to stay at and have ‘vittles and a sleepover’ whilst their carriages were being fixed. Just a tidy bit of food for thought.  Buy some wellies, is all I’m saying.

None of the above is meant as a negative, by the way – just stuff to think around before you decide to swap your City Palace for (the potential insanity of) a life in the country.  And having historically lived in the Big Smoke for over a third of my life, I feel at least a teeny bit qualified to discuss the ins and outs, pros and cons, ups and downs of both ideals.

How about the views?

Having a view is often half the reason people decide to herd out and make a break for it. And it really can be staggeringly uplifting to watch a brilliant sunset over pillowy hills, a wintery woodland – frost and snow glittering in the branches, a glaciated valley in dappled sunshine or a windswept moorland clad in deep purple heather…..

But I have been equally transfixed by city views, too.

Coming into Charing Cross on the South Eastern line gazing in awe at the magnitude of The Thames and its surrounding historic beauty is one of the most moving views I know.  A walk across a bustling city park on a frosty winter’s morning; the colours and contours of the city skyline at night; the naked man in the window….

Eh? – Yes, you’re interested now aren’t you!

Well there might be a story in that –

Long, long ago when I was single and carefree and living somewhere in North London (Islington/Stokey area for those interested) – I rented a split level (extremely shabby – weren’t they all?) flat with my beloved sis. Which was a bit special because it had its own (small but sunny) garden. And at the end of the garden it backed onto a square.  Not a posh square, mind – the houses all needed a proper lick of paint, but it was still quite groovy in its up and coming North London kind of way.  And from our upstairs second floor kitchen window (it was one of those topsy-turvy flats) we could see across the gardens and over to the upstairs windows of the houses on the opposite side of the square.

Every Saturday morning like clockwork, around 10am, a rather hot man, somewhere between the age of 25 and 35 (please don’t ask me how I know that) would be very visible in his ‘across the square from us’ bathroom.

Depending on which of us were up first cooking Saturday brekkie, there would be a shout go out from the kitchen to downstairs, “He’s there!” – followed by the sound of feet thundering upstairs.  Then, coffees in hand, we’d stand in silent, admiring appreciation, (not unlike the Diet Coke ad, Etta James was definitely on point there) and simply drink him in!

We couldn’t actually see him in the shower you understand, but when he stepped out and stood there steaming, lower regions wrapped loosely in a towel – well, those were happy years! I know it was naughty, but as it happened we couldn’t actually see his face clearly – just from the neck down, so it wasn’t as if we’d recognise him over the cheese counter at Sainsbury’s or anything.  Well, not with his clothes on anyway.

Anyway, it just goes to show that views can be important for myriad, if not entirely honourable reasons!  And if you’re lucky enough to have one it’s probably very worth treasuring.

A very dear long term friend and confirmed towney – Debra-like-zebra (and QVC queen, #cozeehomes) – once suggested I might not survive outside of the city when she heard I was leaving for a life in the country, what with me being a 30-something ‘girl about town’ at the time.

“You can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl” she nodded sagely at me.

She’s a wise woman, and she knows me so well.  But she was only half right.

It’s true, our Metropolis is still firmly fixed in my heart.  Its pulse, its beat – is still in me. The smells, sights and sounds – the hum and the energy!  And I love visiting but – I wouldn’t leave The Country now for the whole world!

Because when you think about it, it’s not a view or a garden or a house, or a favourite local bar that decides where you’re going to be happy, is it? Finding your Happy Place has got to be dependent on something bigger than any of those things, surely…

It’s got to be people. Its people make you happy.  And if you’re lucky enough to have spawned your own ‘wretches’ who maybe still live with you – or have close family nearby – or good friends – or even just an elderly neighbour you care about who you drop-in on, have a cuppa, take them a bit of shopping from time to time – well, that’s it, really, isn’t it?  That’s home.

Noises off.

Nothing more needed.


Ruminations Of A Mad Cow




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March 22, 2024