The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Moving to the country (part one)

My first house in the countryGazing out of the back door this morning into the garden and the pouring rain, I remembered the first autumn that I spent in this part of the world.

Twenty three years ago I threw up my fast paced life in London, sold my flat and moved to the country. My small house had been converted from some loose boxes and overlooked a working livery stable. I thought that the outlook would be perfect as there would always be something going on. But tiny figures trotting past my window soon lost their charm when summer came and the smell of muck wafted through the windows along with the flies.

Memories of my first few months in the country are dominated by rain, cold and loneliness.

Coming from London I didn’t have a raincoat. It’s strange but it never appears to rain as hard in the city. An umbrella always did the trick. In my new home I became adept at avoiding the puddles during the rainy dash from house to car but after a while got fed up with being permanently damp. Noah like, I counted the days that it rained. After forty days I gave up and bought a Barbour. I had never spent so much on a jacket and wore it constantly to try and get that cosy thrown in the back of the Land Rover look.

A romantic dream had drawn me to the country. I expected country life to be a cross between “The Darling Buds of May” and the “The Archers” with a pinch of “The High Chaparral”. It wasn’t long before I realised that I would not be collecting primroses in a bonnet at dawn. All I seemed to do was work, eat and sleep. As I crossed off each rainy day on my calendar I realised that the only real country element in my life was that Barbour.

The winters were much colder back then. The “thorn proof windproof” Barbour promise was great but it didn’t keep out the biting cold. I found a jerkin that my mother had made me out of an old fur coat, to wear under my school mac. It still fitted. It seemed custom made for the Barbour. So I was warm during the day but returned home to a freezing house. The central heating was powered by a stubborn old solid fuel stove that generally refused to light. Once, I sacrificed my precious Yellow Pages in a vain attempt to light the beast.

Now, when I pass the gates to the settlement, I often peep in at the little house and remember the chilly loneliness of those first few months. The culture shock of moving from an arty city life to an entirely different community was immense. As my sister said, on a weekend visit, “You’ve moved to the heart of bread roll throwing country.” I longed to run back to London but I had burnt my boats, even the dinghy.


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1 Comment

  1. tractorfactorsteve

    you seem to have taken to it like a duck to water.

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