Monday, 17 November 2014

The truth about country living

This post comes with a large wooden spoon, as I like to stir things up!!

Living in the sticks is not always as wonderful as people think. Roses round the door, peace and quiet,  yes you might get those but what about the other side of the coin.

If you are in a village with a railway station or on a bus route you are probably in the minority. Even if there is a bus service  buses may only be once a week to take people to the local town for market day. Perhaps 4 a day for getting to and from work but there's unlikely to be anything after 6pm.
That means its almost impossible to manage without a car.
Once you have a car then there will probably be no choice about where to get your fuel. Not many villages still have petrol stations.

Think yourself lucky if your village still has a shop. If it does the prices are sure to be more than a supermarket. Ah, I hear you say, there's a farm shop or farmers market but if  you have one of these then the prices there will be even higher. Put the word Artisan in front of your loaf of bread and the price doubles. Where do you go for cash? There is no bank and even the nearest small town probably only has one bank with the threat of it closing hanging over it. The village Post Office is long gone. In the nearest small town the Post Office will have moved into the back of a shop, the shop is closed for stocktaking on the day you have gone to post an urgent parcel. Tough! You'll have to travel to the next town.

Very few villages have cable for TV and computer. You might be lucky and have good fast connections but more likely things will be very slow, difficult for running a business and impossible to watch a TV programme.

Village schools do exist but often taking children from several villages all around, you might have to pay for a school bus or take them yourselves. Narrow roads with no footpaths might have been OK for walking to school in the 60s but back roads are often rat-runs for people driving to work in the 21st century. So you have to drive and become part of the problem of traffic chaos around so many village schools that were not built with car-parking spaces 100 years ago! Village schools may have less facilities than larger schools. In affluent country areas many people choose to send their children to private schools so less money goes to village schools. Once children are old enough for secondary schools it probably means a bus journey. They have less chance to join in with any out of hours activities or to meet up with friends. If you want to choose which secondary school your child goes to, there may be no choice or only choices involving long journeys and no transport - yes you definitely need a car.
Your nearest college might be 25-50 miles away, how will your children get there for further education if your school has no Sixth form.

Health care.
You might be lucky and live in a village with a doctors surgery, if not its a trip to the nearest town. Hospitals are likely to be 20 to 50 miles away. Once again you do not have much choice about where to go for your operation. Nearest or 50 -100 miles away.

Heating your home
Oil or electric are the usual choices, Natural Gas might be available in larger villages but huge areas of the countryside are bypassed by the gas pipes. One plus is that in the country you may have more access to wood and maybe no neighbours to complain when you are cutting it up for your woodburner.

Of course you have beautiful countryside for walking in all around.
Well no, not necessarily. Footpaths may not be maintained and if they are then they are likely to be a sea of mud in winter. Country roads are often narrow, no street lights obviously. Right to roam may be relevant in upland areas, but you try walking through anyones land in arable country and you will soon have a farmer asking you what the h*** you are doing crossing his land. Try walking through woodland used by a local shoot and the gamekeeper will be after you in no time. Private Property notices abound. Large areas of countryside are owned by RSPB, Wildlife Trusts or National Trust, they charge you to get in or to park your car, so that's another large expanse of countryside that is closed to walkers.

Peace and quiet
If you are in the heart of a village you will still get people cutting the grass, dogs barking just like a town. Housing associations sometimes move "troubled" families from towns to village in the hope they will cause less problems!There may be less traffic but sound travels further so 3 miles from a motorway and you may still have the background roar of trucks all day and night. Out in the country you could find yourself woken at silly a.m by bird scarers, farmers working through the night on the field next door, large lorries roaring down tiny roads to farms, second home owners having all night parties - why should they care, they're off back to London tomorrow! Or your local farmer may suddenly get permission for building 6 large chicken sheds and then you have the joy of horrible smells when the sheds are cleaned and thousands of flies or maybe he decides to liven things up by holding 3 day music festivals. You might be a couple of miles away but the thump of the base will make your house vibrate.

Community spirit in a village may be sadly lacking when half the houses are second homes or holiday lets. The people who own them contribute very little to the local area and without enough support suddenly there is no shop and post office, nowhere to meet anyone for a chat.  Village halls are often old, lacking facilities and needing large sums of money for upkeep. If half the homes in a village are second homes and half of the other half are elderly people there's not many fit young folk to look after village facilities.

Ha Ha. It's stay at home with the TV or get that car out again. Often village events are not advertised so if you're new to an area you might not know about something 'til after it's happened. Village organisations can be a bit clique affected, especially in villages that have not had new estates with an influx of new people. If everyone knows everyone else and you say something to the wrong person you might find you're suddenly not welcome.

Lots of generalisation  here I think.
Your village is probably not like this at all.

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