Tag Archives: Big Smoke

A year on

wild flowers
There we have it.  Our first year of living in the countryside.  It’s simply bizarre to think that a year ago we left the Big Smoke and moved to Hampshire to begin a new life in the country.  WHERE has the time gone, dear Reader?  So many wonderful, funny, strange, downright mad things have happened to us in that time.

To name a few, we got some chickens……..we took on some orphans…….Jerry brewed his own beer and I foraged from the hedgerows with a good deal of trepidation – Primrose and Jerry telling me, rather helpfully, that I was destined to poison the whole family with my concoctions.  Continue reading

Embracing it all


The first signs of spring

1st February marked St Brigid’s feast day (patron saint of cattle, chicken farmers and dairy maids to name a few) and the beginnings of early spring.  Time to leave winter behind and embrace the coming of a new season.  Rain gods – hope you are listening up there?  1st February was also a milestone for us: six months of living in the countryside, dear Reader.   Strange to think that it has been six months since we shut the door of our tiny railway worker’s cottage with a SW postcode and left the Big Smoke.  London seems a distant memory these days and it is difficult to imagine that we could live anywhere else now.  Visiting our dear friends Minty and Tree up in Oxfordshire made me realise how much time it can take to settle into the ways of village life.  Sometimes it can be very hard to get used to.  Minty is an out and outright townie and misses the wandering of high streets and the buzz of city life, whereas Tree seems quite at home.  Perhaps it is because the one at home has to work so much harder to fit in to a new way of life and establish new friends?  I almost envied Jerry’s commute in the beginning, so I can sympathise with the serious amount of energy required and having to summon up the effort to join in and find one’s niche in the local community.  Embracing it wholeheartedly is the thing, dear Reader and I can report that village life is never dull here with people always popping in to say hello.  I am still getting used to the fact that a knock at the door is usually followed by the visitor coming in and yelling up the stairs for me if I am not in the kitchen!

With shooting season over, our little corner of Hampshire is beginning to show signs of spring appearing – that St Brigid must definitely have something to do with that.  Pockets of snowdrops have appeared and villagers have insisted on us visiting nearby woodland to see the snowy white flowers appear in a patch planted up in a guerrilla gardening raid by one of the village elders some years ago.  Gardening is well and truly on the agenda for Jerry and I too and we have begun the mammoth task of transforming our own cottage garden.  Trees have been cut down, shrubs removed and now, the garden looks more like a building site than a tranquil plant haven.  Years of jungle growth had left the dear old cottage will little light coming through its windows and a garden that Primrose and Poppy couldn’t run around in.  So continue to dig we must.   I am not sure I have ever seen myself as filthy as when digging in the flowerbeds.   Jerry talked of hiring a rotivator…..but to be honest, dear Reader, can you imagine that machine in the hands of townies like Jerry and I?  Bet the village would turn out to see us getting it all wrong!  As it is, our neighbours have had to replace a dilapidated fence along our boundary because Monty has been hopping over to relieve himself on their lawn.  There can’t be a household in the village that hasn’t giggled at the chaos that has descended on the old cottage in the village in the last six months.

Phase 1 in operation: jungle demolition.

Phase 1 in operation: jungle demolition.

Marking our six months of rural living was a wonderful and long overdue visit from the fabulous Tom and Barbara with our darling godson.  There was wine, wine and more wine followed by talk of their smallholding and new business ventures.  I admire their spirit of adventure!  Tom and Barbara have well and truly embraced all things country with 4 hens, 2 pigs, a new business, 2 dogs, renovating a farmhouse and plans for so much more.  I’m not sure Jerry and I are ready for that much of the good life quite yet but I think that we are a long way from the townies that arrived all those months ago.  Barbara’s description of our village still has me in stitches, thinking of it even now: “It’s like Midsomer, without the murders!”  I suppose it is in some ways but then I always did like a bit of drama.

Despite all our calamities, we continue to welcome in our own version of country living here and have even been invited to join the Parish council!  The vicar triumphantly bellowing something about inviting the young people to give their tuppence worth.  I am not sure that the dear Reverend has any idea what he is letting himself in for….Margot….on the PARISH council….oh dear.  They’ll be asking me to become a church warden next…..now that would never sit with my gin soak reputation, would it dear Reader?!

Embracing it all

I’d say these wellies were pretty at home here.

A little bit of news…..

Ooh little bubbles of gorgeousness!

Ooh little bubbles of gorgeousness!

Last weekend saw the Margot and Jerry brood visit the new digs in the countryside.  The current owners (a very sweet couple who have lived there for 13 years) invited us down to measure up and chat about the village.  With only 30 houses and a church, it is a close community and everyone knows each other.  I didn’t spy any twitching curtains but I was sure we were being vetted for our suitability! Jerry and I fell in love with the house and our new hamlet all over again and it was useful to talk through some of the practicalities of village life!  No mains gas or mains sewerage certainly will take some getting used to and I was thoroughly grateful for all the advice given on cess pits (it’s a whole other world having the contents of the loo in your garden!) and oil fired heating.

From loos to locals, Sunday lunch proved a success too as we tested out the nearest pub in the next village along.  Anywhere that can accommodate a small puppy and 2 little ones is a wonder in my book – there don’t seem to be many child friendly pubs in the countryside so this was a gem of a find and only a mile from the house!  Jerry and I could see ourselves propping up the bar happily or enjoying a swift half on a Sunday after church.  Everyone was very friendly and people actually said “Good afternoon” to each other – we were definitely far from London!  So far so good….village life was looking idyllic!

Well, dear Reader, we must have passed muster as we have FINALLY exchanged contracts on the new house!  Champagne all round!  Immense relief washed over us like a tsunami when we finally heard the news and both solicitor and agent contacted us to let us know that all was set for completion.  Jerry and I have been grinning like Cheshire cats ever since!  In 6 weeks’ time, we will be surrounded by boxes in the ‘new’ (well actually rather old…17th century) cottage in rural Hampshire.  Is the village ready for Margot and her capers?  Most certainly not.  Are we all set for leaving the Big Smoke?  Well, with a view like this literally a few yards from our front door, how could we not be ready to move to the country?!

The view a few yards from our new back door

Blissful buttercups and fields for miles and miles!