Many of my friends (and family, no doubt) are probably still somewhat mystified as to how I’ve taken to country life so well. My mother keeps saying "you were such an urban boy…" and smiling when I show off our veg patch.
Whilst I do miss the proximity of friends and family, the transition from city dweller to country gent really hasn’t been a hardship in any way. Apart from the extra space, there are lots of other things that have made it easy on me.
- Everything is more convenient. Admittedly its more convenient thanks to having a car, but the truth of the matter is that getting anywhere in London takes a disproportionate amount of time. I had a rule of thumb – if I had to get a tube or bus somewhere in London, it would take at least 30 minutes. And crossing London can take a considerable amount more time, never mind when there’s a disruption, fall of leaves on the track or a light shower of rain. In the countryside? Most things I need to get to are a maximum of 10 minutes drive away.
- The pace of life is wonderful. When I get home, it feels like a dramatic gearshift. I’m sure a lot of that is due to being a family man, but even if it wasn’t – walking around in the late evening sunshine in my back garden, bouncing Emily around or looking at the veg… is pretty amazing.
- The commute is better. I know, I know, I moan about it… and the SWT guys aren’t great, but, except, for when I was in cycling range of my office, the public transport from other places in London – like my sister’s house – can take longer than the train does to get home. That’s the 5 miles from our offices in Victoria needing an hour and a quarter to traverse (admittedly on a bad day, in rush hour).
- I like the structure the trains put around my day – I’m in the office every day at 7.40am and have to be out at 6. Still a long day, but at least without the uncertainty of when I’m getting home (again, except for delays). And obviously I’m able to be productive on the train in and out of Basingstoke in a way that I could never be on any London transport vehicle.
- I was never really a ‘true’ urban dweller. I grew up in the suburbs in a country where you had to drive everywhere, spent five years in the deepest countryside, 3 years in a small University town and then 7 years in London. I’m beginning to think that living in London as the unusual part of my life…
All that said, I do still very much enjoy being in London for work. Some of the things that happen here, only happen here, and I’ll never stop thinking of it as one of the greatest cities in the world. It’s wonderful to visit friends and family there, when they’ll have us, but I have to admit, I’m resoundingly and categorically glad I don’t live there any more.