Despite being country dwellers for over two years, it’s pretty clear to me that there is still a long way to go before we feel like bona fide country bumpkins. Finding yourself a nice cottage in a pretty village and buying a pair of wellies is not, unsurprisingly, all it takes. There are certain nuances, skills, tips, way of doing things and other insider knowledge that can only be gleaned from years of tending to your garden, trying to keep warm in winter and dealing with country ‘wildlife’….
Some signs we’re not country bumpkins yet…
I still own more than one a pair of heels. We don’t have a Labrador. Or a muddy spaniel. We don’t chop our own wood or kindling. I am still scared of spiders. And ‘big mice’. And birds. R doesn’t have a pair of proper red trousers. Or blue trousers. Or a tweed cap. Or plus fours. I don’t own a tweed jacket. or a pair of Dubarry’s. We still get cross when pubs stop serving food at 2pm. And are closed on Sunday nights. We can’t really build anything of our own (a fence, a shed). I still wear make-up. And I still can’t really bake very well. Or make jam. Or chutney.
And some signs we are getting there… (slowly)…
We’re permanently cold. The hallway is always full of mud. We own six pairs of wellies (spares for visitors) and three Barbours. We have a greenhouse and a vegetable patch and three chickens. We have an estate (car, not actual estate. Though that would be nice). We have to drive to get milk. We don’t have to drive to fresh farm eggs.
We have friends with labradors and muddy spaniels. We have got used to the sounds of silence. I know about things like the price of oil. And petrol. We have a ‘walking’ rucksack. The weather affects more than my ability to walk to the tube station. It means I might not be able to LEAVE THE HOUSE. Gasp. We go to things like village fetes. And dog shows on the local farm.
We actually know what it means when something is locally-sourced, ie I can see the lambs that will eventually end up in my freezer gamboling about in the field, just metres from the lane I walk down most days. People have stopped asking me if I know a good London restaurant for dating/business lunch/tapas/cocktails [delete as appropriate]. I have nothing to wear when I visit the city. All my clothes are jeans and jumpers. And big boots.
When friends come over they don’t bring wine and chocolates, they bring homemade chutney, or eggs from their chickens, or lettuce from their gardens. We spend whole entire days outside. We make meals from things we found on our walks – rhubarb, wild garlic. But mostly, we know the pure bliss of a muddy walk, followed by a pint of dark ale, a log fire and a deep sleep, under dark beams, surrounded by silence. And it’s not a novelty. It’s our life.
So, we’re getting there. Bit by bit.