Wednesday 10 December 2008

Living in Hadrian's Wall countryside

I had been thinking about blogging about this subject for some time when French Fancy stole my thunder, well, sort of, she blogged about living in the French countryside as opposed back in the UK.

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 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" 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) 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?


Maggie May said...

I guess it is swings and roundabouts really.
I am a city type of person but like my own plot of land, even if it is pocket hanky sized, it is mine!
I would like the friendliness of a smaller community though. Cities can be a bit "keep yourself to yourself".
Like the fact I can hop on a bus anywhere using my free bus pass!
Yes...... swings and roundabouts!

Dr. H said...

Ha, I cant get into our wonderful chemeist. youd think Boots would have knocked that ****** great step out when thye took it over, but no, Im expected to sit outside and press the buzzer... as if!

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I grew up in a village but live in a city. What I like is the peacefulness of our back garden where I have seen foxes, squirrels, hedgehogs, a sparrowhawk, jays, goldfinches. It's where I light bonfires and study the movement of woodlice.

My district is like a village within a city. I know many people. A hundred yards away there are two pubs, an Indian takeaway, a pizza delivery place, a fish and chip shop, a chemists, a post office, a bank, a dry cleaners, a bus stop on a major bus route. My kids have loved growing up in Sheffield and would have positively hated being teenagers in a country village but deep in me I guess I envy you for what you have - that precious simplicity.

Troy said...

We love the dry climate of East Anglia. There are some parts that apparently could be clasified as desert conditions! Being close to the coast is also a bonus.
Your part of the world is extremely beautiful but the weather can be a lottery. A few years ago we bought some cagoules in Alnwick and we still refer to them as our "Northumberland Summerwear".

French Fancy... said...

That's been ever so interesting and I see what you mean about life in your bit of the country being pretty much the same as life in my bit of the French country. You are lucky picking up languages so quickly though; it's been a bit of a slog for us and, as long as people here don't rattle it off at their regular speed, we can hold our own with a conversation.

It's hard to be funny in a different language though. But I digress - It sounds idyllic, Hadriana, and I bet there are many city dwellers who would swap with you in an instant.

Tim Atkinson said...

Shops always closed on a Sunday! That's worth living in the country for, although here in Boston it's like a cross between the two - we can walk into our town centre, but the town has the same rural feel of a village. When I first moved here (from a city) I couldn't understand why a trip to town took so long. But now we enjoy the fact that everyone you know (and as a teacher, that's a lot) will stop for a chat.

Lindsay said...

For the past 35 years have lived in rural area. The thought of living in a town is horrible. In our village we enjoy a community spirit, laughs at the pub quiz and a wonderful village shop which acts as a library. Books are left - books can be taken to read with a little bit of money into the church fund box! There is a little primary school, playing fields and a 9 hole golf course. I suppose the only problems are the extra use of cars but we can hop on our local bus (over 60's free). We are a bit far from amenities like doctors, dentists, hospitals etc. We love it.

Nota Bene said...

...a trip down memory lane, having grown up in the countryside...but now spending my life between seaside city and London suburb I'm not sure whether we have the best of both worlds or the worst!

Wonderful, post to start the morning off with

Dumdad said...

I want to live in Hadrianaland!

Well, maybe not forever. You make it sound very enticing. I know the area as we have friends in Cumbria and have been to The Wall and surrounds. I like living in Paris (in the banlieue now) and before that I lived in Fulham in London, which I loved. But I didn't have children then and it was a different lifestyle.

At heart, I'm a seaside man. I love the sea and the air. Perhaps one day I'll live on the coast; I lived in Brighton when I was young.

Anyway, very interesting post.

Suburbia said...

I can see you fore list is much longer than your against list! You must be happy there!

ADDY said...

You missed fresh air off your countryside list. I live in the heart of London - it is noisy, dirty,dangerous but full of history, culture, entertainment and greeen parks. I love it but often hate it and yearn for the countryside now and again.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Yes, Maggie, I think you're right. I've enjoyed living in Newcastle and London (Nottingham and Southampton were short stays for a variety of reasons...both lovely). I adored jumping on/off pre-health and safety days!

Lorraine, they should do something about that's a pain for pram users too. Maybe we should mention it to them.

YP your area sounds pretty idyllic too. I like the idea and reality of a village within a city. It works well. These oases of greenery in towns are brilliant for fact we've seen more foxes in London than we have up here!

Troy you are right about the weather (up here as opposed to East Anglia) but it is odd...sometimes we can go 10 miles in either direction and they have their own weather systems!

FF you are absolutely right about trying to be funny in a foreign language...the amount of times I have put my foot in it! So I don't attempt to do it now (or rarely)...I listen and laugh.

The Dotterel, we actually went to look at houses down your way a few years ago (another long story. It was good to see more of I did not know it that well before the visit.

Lindsay...your bit of the world sounds idyllic too. I like Wiltshire...we have friends around Devizes and Marlborough. Don't get down there too often though which is a shame.

Thank you, NB, BTW..did you hear about a local council (I think it was Bournemouth) who have outlawed the use of your name? I may blog about it soon...! Seaside and London...that's not a bad mix. I've always loved the seaside as I grew up in a seaside town myself.

Dumdad, yes, I know what you mean about the sea. I lived in South Shields until I was 16. The sea certainly has an impact...then we were beside a marvellously turquoise blue sea (strangely known as The Red Sea)...happy days!

Cumbria et al: You must know this area well then, Dumdad...

Suburbia - we are very happy here. It's not completely perfect but then again, I'm fairly convinced that nowhere is. If it were it would be pretty boring!

Rosiero, I can understand your love/hate thing with London completely. I think I've been lucky with the places I've lived in: Hampstead, then Kew and Richmond. Fairly spoilt...but I loved walking, travelling all round London trying to discover different bits of it.

I think that when I worked there I got fed up with the state of public transport...usually it was much better walking! Havind said that I still prefer London to all of other big cities.

Yolanda said...

I am glad to have found your blog. I love your photos.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

Your pro list certainly outweighed the cons. I have never lived in a city, only visit from time to time and relish coming back to our much slower pace. We have a beach nearby and also a motorway junction. Our house seems to be about a 20 minute walk from everything we need and the bus stop is a few yards away. (I'm another with a free bus pass). The High Street is mostly local shops and there is a variety of eating places. We also have a swimming pool, library and cinema. Have lived here for nearly 40 years and so know lots of friendly faces.

I definitely think of it as home.

A x

kari and kijsa said...

What a beautiful village! Your pictures are fabulous!
kari & kijsa

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hello Yolana, welcome...glad you like it over here. I'll be over to yours soon...

SJA...sounds like you live in a pretty fab place. Will check out your location asap.

Thank you K&K...!

I feel very guilty at the mo' that I cam not doing enough blogging. The other half is still away in Egypt and Christmas activities are in full swing in Hadrianaland. I will make it up to all in due course. Must get eldest to bed because she is still playing in/around my legs at 9.45pm gulp! Bad parents that I am. Blogging when I should be getting her to bed. Please don't tell Santa or I won't get any presents this year!!!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Sorry Yolanda...didn't spell your name correctly. Will put that right immediately. H xx :)

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Oh...goodness....mispellings abound....SORRY...must go! Duty awaits.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................!!!!

Gill - That British Woman said...

well, when we lived in England we lived in a town of 2,000 and everyone knew everyone and everyone's business!!!

When we moved to Canada, we moved to a city of 400,000......nearly 20 years later, I am ready to move back to the countryside (still in Canada)

I think it all depends on where you are in your life, as to what works for you and your family....

Gill in Canada

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Gill in Canada,

Yes, I have to agree with you. I was happy living in London as a couple or single but would not be so happy to be there bringing up children. Your move within Canada would be very interesting....perhaps you will blog about it?

Sandra Evertson said...

Great post and lovely photo!
Sandra Evertson

Sandi McBride said...

I'd take the countryside over the city anyday....and your coutryside is heavenly! I hope all is well with you this Christmas week!

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi Sandra and Sandi, thank you for your comments. A Merry Christmas and a great New Year to you!

A Mum said...

look at the list of upsides against the down. three times as long. I think you're lucky to live where you do. and the best bit is, i think you know it. well done.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Thank you RM...just been over to yours to leave a comment...I'm intrigued by your way of life to say the least! :)

Grumpy Old Ken said...

Lovely blog.
I've lived in both city and country. Both have advantages. i have seen some unhappy people in both.Sometimes its all in the mind. Plus you have to be well. Occasionally yoy need a shock to make you appreciate what you have. Ang when getting old the shocks come more often.Memories are all important as you get older. Don't mean too sound over reflective, I still love life wherever and whatever. Samashing place tho, your area. Never mind, going to the football with 25000 others in a minute. That's always fun. Merry Christmas.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Merry Christmas Ken and a very happy 2009 to you!

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