Here I can compare living in the UK countryside (yes, you know where) as opposed to living in a UK city...and I've known a few....Newcastle, London, Nottingham and Southampton to start off with.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I NEVER expected to like living in the English countryside. I always thought I'd end up living in the countryside in either Spain, Italy or France. (I speak each language: Spanish - fluently, Italian - semi-fluently and my French is a bit rusty although I'm confident that I could resurrect both the Italian and French back to a fluent level pretty quickly. I just love languages.)
We came here, by accident, as I wanted to have our first child near my parents. Since we'd been in Egypt my parents had moved from Jesmond, a suburb of Newcastle, to the edge of a small town, ten minutes away from here, known locally as "The Centre of Britain". I was very lucky to have both children at Hexham hospital where I received excellent pre and post natal care. (So good it could have been private!) We fully expected to move to Europe...probably Tenerife to open another scuba diving centre after the birth of our daughter who is now five years old. For the first year we lived with my parents and slowly fell in love with this area: Hadrian's Wall Country.
What do I miss about living in a city?
- A variety of shops to hand.
- Shops being open all hours of the day (here they close at lunchtimes, Wednesday and Saturday are half closing days, Sundays - the shops are always closed).
- The library being open all hours of the day (our library closes three days and one morning and one afternoon each week).
- The (open air) swimming pool being open in the Winter.
- Being able to walk to shops, cafes, restaurants, cinemas, swimming pools, libraries, concerts, theatres etcetera.
- Not having to jump in the car to go nearly everywhere.
- Having a variety of public transport to use.
- The availability of cappuccinos (almost at the drop of a hat...but even so the variety is questionable sometimes! Although M&S in Hexham does a marvellous one....)
What do I love about living in the countryside?
- The sense of community (people are so friendly). I'll be walking down the high street and everyone will smile and say hello.
- Continually bumping into people and having a chat.
- People have time for one another and are more than happy to help.
- Great neighbours and B&B competitors (basically we all collaborate!)
- The amazing countryside and history on our doorstep.
- Going for healthy, beautiful walks.
- We can walk out of our front door, down through the village and along the cycle path to Hadrian's Wall or drive/walk to many places along the Wall. (Coasts are near and so is the Lake District. There are castles everywhere.)
- Watching the mesmerising change of seasons.
- Our little boy shouting "red tractor!" every time it goes past our front door (which it does several times a day).
- Watching all the wildlife and animals in our garden, in the fields surrounding us. (Today I saw a red squirrel. There is a heron living in a nearby burn.)
- Everyone knows each other at the school gate.
- The fact that we have not got loads of multiple high street shops on our doorstep. There is still an individuality about the local high street. It feels like going back in time. We have two butchers, two newsagents (despite having Sainsburys and the Co-op) in the town. We still have a Post Office although the very local P.O. in the next village has got the chop (which is a huge shame...it is the only P.O. actually "on" the Hadrian's Wall Trail).
- Everything can be bought locally and for more exotic items there is the choice of Hexham, Carlisle and Newcastle (all reasonably easily "gettable" to...by car, train or bus).
- Fresh and tasty fruit, vegetables, local meat can be bought with ease.
- Frequent farmers' markets to buy local produce.
- We have a super chemist and local medical practice where you can get an appointment almost immediately.
- No crowded, overheated shops, no queues.
- Craft fairs (a lot of artists, writers and arty folk live out here).
- Markets, fairs, agricultural shows (the last of which are a bit dangerous for this family!)
- Quaint traditions still exist...there is a garage in one nearby town where you fill up with petrol (or they will do it for you)...you read the price from the pump and take it through to the office and shout for someone to come through and charge you!
There are a few downsides of course...we've had appalling weather for 2007, 2008 Summers yet the Summers of 2003 and 2006 were absolutely baking....and yes, sometimes, we do often get stuck behind a tractor but so what! we slow down and enjoy the splendid views all around us............................So come on, tell us....What's it like where you live?