As the yellow buttercups reappeared in the meadows bordering our house, there was a definite sensation of stepping out into a familiar terrain.
It’s been one year.
This is our place now.
We’ve seen every season through, battled them at times, lapped them up at others.
But most of all we have owned it.
We’ve lived Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.
We’re rewarded with that wonderful feeling of I’ve been there, I can do this, I’ve got this.
Buttercups don’t just grow and look pretty in fields though. Buttercups infiltrate all the veg patches too, cunningly disguising themselves as strawberry plants, which means hours of backbreaking weeding…
Last year I got very stressed out with people telling me to grow veg, make jam, get chickens, geese and goats. I think the good life is best embraced gently, and when you are ready, and have the time. Failure upsets the delicate balancing act that is acclimatising to a new way of life far too much.
I’ve decided not to plant any veg this year because there is too much else going on with final book edits, running the barn and trying to finish the vintage caravan ready for Airbnb. I’m also going to ignore anyone who tells me to make jam, unless I find myself with a whole day to myself. All fruit will either be eaten, or steeped in gin.
As May appeared, the frozen winter melted and suddenly the garden resembled a jungle. From within the tangled undergrowth came the same familiar retorts from our parents, about needing to get hedges trimmed, things planted, bits strimmed… ‘Why don’t you just get some help with the garden!?’
We waited exactly a year to get a gardener – he walked into our lives a year to the day we moved in and we kind of knew, like a spooky number of things that have happened since we moved, that the planets had aligned. Maybe my mind is open to happy coincidences, but there has been an awful lot of the right people just appearing in our lives…
Like our joiner/jack of all trades, who’s name came up in a chorus when I asked at the very first PTFA meeting last year for someone who might be able to salvage an old caravan.
Or the perfect home from home dog sitter, who happens to live just down the hill.
Or L’s school friend’s mum who took down the wibbly wobbly willow tree with her tree surgeon team.
Our ‘one year anniversary’ weekend was spent with new friends, friends who have really helped us settle in. Finding us everything from chimney sweeps to the best car boots. We visited the prettiest car boot I have ever seen in Alstonefield together, to hunt for caravan bits and pieces, followed by tea and cake in the village hall.
We had a BBQ with some other friends in the evening. Cider and sausages round the fire and painting our faces in glitter. A friend brought along a friend who gardens and the rest was sorted. The hedges round the house being trimmed back feels a lot like being Rapunzel escaping from the tower.
I could go on and on, I’ve already put off this post for a month because I couldn’t fathom where to begin. When I look back over my monthly updates about moving to the country I can’t believe how far we have come.
I will keep it short. Ha ha.
All the difficult things we expected about country living can be true – being high up and means fog which I find mystical on a good day and depressing on a bad day; it’s a quirky house to clean and heat; there is a lot of garden; initially some creatures decided they want to share our home, thankfully they soon cleared out; outlooks can be different – like the school trip to London that was vetoed by parents; living near a tourist town the traffic can be interesting and it’s a fair drive to the train and bigger shopping centres.
On the flip side…
The kids have absolutely thrived in a small village primary, the opportunities and support they have received has blown me away. No doubt they would have thrived in their previous junior school anyway, but there was something extra special about seeing them both swinging in a hammock devouring books, representing their school in every sport imaginable because otherwise there won’t be a full team, being mobbed by 4 year olds in the playground who adore them, and doing the egg and spoon race again.
We have all thrived being in nature, whenever we get bogged down we just have to walk outside and we get a massive dose of perspective. Hot air balloons pass over the fields in the mornings, I’ve watched lapwings raise their young, fiercely protecting them daily, I go to sleep to owls hooting. I’ve looked up from my work to see a hare on the lawn and seen a kingfisher in my back garden. I feel incredibly lucky.
I absolutely love all of this house’s amazing quirks and when I see things that need fixing or updating, or get bogged down in dusting, I try remind myself we’re in it for the long haul and we’re incredibly lucky to have this place.
Despite not having neighbours we have not been lonely in the slightest, making your own village, of friends, Airbnb guests, family who are now closer, and visitors from afar is a wonderful feeling. Small communities have to look out for each other and even though we don’t live in a village we always feel welcome.
Bringing together our vision for holiday lets absolutely terrified me at first, but it has given our family a chance to work together, has brought loads of interesting people into our life and Airbnb has exceeded all our expectations.
Moving to the country?
Best thing we ever did.
Thanks so much for all the support on these posts. I definitely want to keep writing about our adventures, and doing a monthly update has forced me to get stuff down. But I won’t lie, it has been hard! I am wondering whether to write about running an Airbnb, or just go for smaller weekly blogs about random bits of life? A month can feel huge at times…