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Moving to the Country: Ten Months: Final pieces of the Jigsaw

It’s about that time in the afternoon when the stoat bounds past the window.

Really. It keeps happening. He must be popping down to the pond to catch a fish for the kids.

And it’s also that time when I ‘should’ have written my little update about our last month in the country. It’s a bit late this month, which I see as a sign we’re happily closing in on a year here. Already, can you believe it? But I did write a little update about the vintage caravan, did you see? I just took more caravan photos too, which I will share soon too.

March was our first full month as Airbnb hosts. It totally exceeded our expectations.

The barn has been booked up for March and April, so now the caravan renovation is well under way. I’m gradually cracking the new dog training and although I often feel overwhelmed by all the different threads of our new life, as a year approaches I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved.

My days feel much more fragmented here, but I am leaning to appreciate the quirks and novelty. Responding to Airbnb queries, welcoming guests, buying treats, flowers and milk, ironing pillowcases, cleaning the barn, gardening, catching up with the joiner about the caravan restoration. Squeezing in some blogging and writing a book.

Yes, I have a book which is all about happiness, for children and their grown ups coming out in September with Becky Goddard Hill, published by Harper Collins!

March felt as if I hadn’t really got my teeth fully into anything, but when I look back I’m really proud of how I did spend the time. So much time was spent trying to restore back ups and remember passwords after dropping my phone down the toilet.  My car also died, which made life really stressful as we are 20 minutes from the nearest train station and we have no regular bus service, or pavement into the nearest village.

I was able to fully appreciate what an amazing bunch of friends we have locally who all came to the rescue.

I drove past my old house recently, not stopping, just meeting a friend to travel on to a blogging event, it’s all been done up and looks so shiny. I felt quite ambivalent about the old house, it doesn’t feel like me anymore. But I remembered people and places with fondness, I remembered walks to school, catching up with friends, jogging with friends, lots of dog walks with our dog Max.

As I was driving through I suddenly thought of Luna, our new dog, and how she’s not part of our old life at all, only our new.

It suddenly made sense of our decision to get a second dog.

I won’t lie, taking in a street dog from a kill pound in Sarajevo was exhausting initially. I did wonder at some points if we’d done something really stupid. She’s driven me mad, had accidents, chewed things, goes berserk if strange men come to the house, decided initially that my Dad was the dog catcher.

Now she sits, she offers her paw, she curls up next to me in the evening when I watch tv, she follows me round as I garden and snuggles up to Max on the sofa all day as I work at the table. She’s warming to my Dad and the builder.

It suddenly clicked that Luna is pretty symbolic of our new life and that we finally have enough space in our lives again to give her a new life too. There are still never enough hours in the day, but there is more space in my heart now I am so much happier.

I needed to move from the city, the suburbs. I’m in absolutely the right place here. Despite the worst blooming bout of SAD ever this Winter, I am still so much happier here. Moving to the country was the best thing. I did lots of walking and talking with friends in March, the countryside can be brilliant therapy.

Our Airbnb holiday barn brings me piles of washing but also piles of joy. Two months in and we’ve had guests bake us cakes, bring us conversation and wine, teach us the floss, bound on the trampoline with our kids in the rain and rainbows, compare nature notes, compare doggies, leave chocolate brownies, sweeties, thank you cards and send postcards.

I’ve helped plan 60th birthdays, surprise birthdays, anniversaries and we’re even hosting a honeymoon later this year. The Airbnb community is a wonderful thing to be part of.

Today I was able to make someone’s day by offering to shift their booking along a day when their work called them in unexpectedly. I’ve been out picking flowers for our next guests and getting excited about interiors for the caravan.

Making people’s holiday special is an amazing gift. I finally have the purpose I feel I’ve been lacking.

My eldest’s place at secondary school was confirmed last month, along with her transport which feels like the final piece of the moving house jigsaw puzzle, or gamble. The headteacher of their primary school nearly made me cry with her understanding and care for my kids this morning. I’m so happy with their school and secondary school to be. It was a huge decision to uproot them, but it has paid off and fallen into place. Sometimes you have to take the leap and believe!

Being in so much nature continues to make me so happy, I lifted a wheelbarrow and found a rabbit underneath last week. The stoats are getting braver, today one stopped to stare at me through the window and last week my youngest caught two babies fighting in the yard. Hopefully they are keeping the mice at bay.

We’ve seen hares in the fields and lapwings defending their nests in the ground. The builder saw a kestrel in one of the trees. I’ve given up working in my office and work in the kitchen where I can see birds feeding. Wrens, greenfinches, tits, robins, goldfinches. I read while researching the book I’m writing that birds make us happier because they give us a pause in our day and a break from our worries.

I swear I just saw two robins kiss…

Now I just need to find a way to slot the gardening into my day, there’s a lot of it. Dad reckons 20 minute bursts instead of trying to find a whole day. I was trying to explain that my whole life feels like 20 minute bursts and any spare 20 minutes would be spent having a cup of tea and looking out the window. But do you know what, he’s right, I found 20 minutes several times last week and I reckon we might get some veg planted after all. I’m dreaming of a cut flower bed too.

More than anything I am realising just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither will this country life be, although when I look back I realise just how far we have come, and it’s not quite a year yet.



  1. 28/04/2018 / 9:14 pm

    Oh Penny what a wonderful post. I’ve loved following your journey over the last ten months. You write about it so honestly and beautifully. The AirBnB side of things sounds like it’s really taking off – I’d really like to do something like that one day too. The book sounds wonderful – I’ll be looking into getting a copy for my girls once it’s released for sure. Looking forward to the 11 month update already.

  2. 23/05/2018 / 11:57 am

    These dogs are adorable. Glad to know you are doing so well in your new home.

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