Well certainly not for you, I usually think, as you'll be the muppet driving your free-range cherubs to and from school, football, hockey, welly-slinging fetes, best cabbage competitions, sleepovers, play-dates, as no doubt everything will be happening in the next village, or the one beyond that. You might as well paint your car yellow and write "taxi" on it now and be done with it.
Or so I thought. What is this mystical, mythical lure of "the country"? I thought I had finished that debate in my head and decided once and for all I needed the urban frazzle. Have I got it all wrong? Country yes, wilderness, yes please and always - but not instead of culture, as well as - that's where I stood. But having just returned from Spain, where the kids roamed free in the back-country of Sopalmo, the debate started all over again. Would the kids be happier in the countryside? Freer? More independent? Would they? Would I turn into a sour, adulterous, wine-swilling mother? Would I? Or would I roam the fields smelling juniper, keep chickens and pigs, organise artisanal cheese festivals and witness my children blossom into the "best selves they can be" (Wild, by Cheryl Strayed)? The jury is out. No sorry, the jury is in Bruton.
Here's my list of pros and cons:
- Taxi. I don't want to be one. End of.
- Village Fete. What if our cabbage doesn't win?
- Relationship. I'd probably see either too much or too little of my partner, depending on if he was commuting to work.
- Culture. No offence against village halls, but am not sure the aquarelle seascapes by Myrtle Smith would give me the regular culture hit I crave.
- A slower pace. We'd know fewer people i.e. socialise less i.e. be in more i.e. possibly manage to read a book.
- Nature. Watching my kids go feral in Spain made me realise they are truly alive in nature. Nan Shepherd, the high priestess of the Cairngorms and author of The Living Mountain says about being in the countryside: "the body may be said to think". Unction.
- Wilderness of body and mind. With this I don't mean that I'd shave my legs less, I mean the open space would provide a place for the kids to explore without restriction, their abilities, fears and curiosities. According to a report published by Natural England, 100 years ago 8-year olds walked up to eight miles unsupervised to e.g. go fishing, go to school... Today, an 8-year old, city-living kid might be allowed to walk to the end of his street if he's lucky.
- Dog. We'd have to get one. But not a labradoodle, as that would just scream "Yuhuu! We've just moved here from London, will you be our new BFFs?'
Top quote: "I suppose the pleasure of country life lies really in the eternally renewed evidences of the determination to live." Vita Sackville-West, Country Notes
Top tip: Don't choose Bruton for your move. Everyone else already has.
Below some impressions from Spain that got me thinking is London really the place to be?