So… I Moved To The Countryside

 

river

Although a small town in terms of population, and renowned for its pretty colleges, Oxford is a surprisingly gritty, urban town once you get under its skin. We were living right on the Cowley Road, with its kebab houses, music venues, sex shops and student pub crawls, so it felt pretty much identical to, say Ladbroke Grove or Brick Lane at street level.

I loved the cosmopolitain edginess of East Oxford and am sorry to say I even liked it when it went all hipster and gentrified. I was, after all, a city girl. Cities were fundamentally places where people could be themselves. They were exciting, vibrant and culturally rich spaces where people from all around the world could come together and enjoy the pure excitement of living.

Having grown up in a rural environment and indeed having fled this said environment aged 18, I never thought I’d return to the countryside. I remember as a teenager longing for escape from small towns and small town people with their tiny horizons and inconsequential lives. My urban travels included living and working in Edinburgh, London, Calais, Berlin and Oxford.

But then, on a whim, my husband and I decided to move to the countryside. There was not really any grand plan. At all. We just kind of got bored of the Cowley Road and wanted to maybe get a bigger house and maybe have kids someday and maybe Bristol was cooler than London these days, anyway, so why not look at Somerset?

Six months later and here we are: Deepest Mid Devon. In a beautiful old house with an enormous garden. We’re on the edge of a little village with one shop, one pub and two buses a day to Exeter. But I can’t say we have regretted it for one second.

It’s like a weird mental cleansing to be here. Literally everything and everyone I care(d) about is gone. It’s like a dream, but in reverse. It’s like waking up and seeing reality as it for the first time. Being here has peeled away the layers of mental sediment which have accrued over time. Old cultures, beliefs, education, habits, prejudices, expectations, hopes, fears, certainties, familiarities and routines are gone. There is only the vast, untamed wilderness of Dartmoor, the activities of foxes, squirrels, herons and pheasants (all passing through my back garden) and the everyday, basic needs of keeping warm and gathering food.

I watched a film about Permaculture the other day. In it, a man said that you can never feel depressed in nature. Nature is eternally optimistic. Mushrooms send out billions of spores, flowers and trees pollinate, creepers creep, trees stretch and salmon leap. They have limitless hope.

He said that you can never feel depressed in nature because you have reached rock bottom. The earth – mother nature – is the ground, the solid foundation, there can be no let downs or disappointments here. The only way is up. And the only way to live is to simply be.

I used to write blogs about politics and cultural theory and digital society when I lived in the city. Now, I’m afraid this blog is going to turn into a combination of country lifestyle tips and folksy new age ramblings. Sorry about that.

 

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About kerrysmallman

https://kerrysmallman.wordpress.com/

2 responses to “So… I Moved To The Countryside”

  1. Ryan Trimble says :

    This sounds lovely. I’m interested to see how you feel about it in a few months or years. My own life is filled with perpetual business, and I keep trying to convince my wife that we need to flee rat race. But we need more money first. Kind of ironic when you think about it—that the simple life must be bought. Buy a simple life? Oh, the scheme! It’s like a grand circus, but instead of buying a ticket IN you want to buy a ticket OUT. The exit way is a maze of mirrors.

    • kerrysmallman says :

      Yep, it can be hard. I would say, though, that the simple life is possible on the cheap if you’re willing to sacrifice location, downsize your house or share with others. Also lots of opportunities if you’re willing to work the land as some kind of tenant.
      Alternatively, the best bet is to find work you can do from home and live somewhere really remote and cheap, as long as there’s internet.
      I’m very fortunate to have moved from the South East to a less-desirable part of England, so have a lovely house and garden. I now see it as my duty to share it with as many people as possible, either as a retreat or as a base for them to live, if only for a while.

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