City and country...

posted on: Friday, 20 February 2015

I sit to type this wearing four layers of wool, a hot water bottle on my lap and about 10 logs on the fire in the next room, trying to get some heat. OUR HEATING IS OFF!!!! So cold; it's been days now so the house is chilled through and through. This is an oil issue - our heat runs off an oil tank, not gas, so I live with a tank refilling extravaganza every winter. We already have a troubled relationship with oil after last year's leak, so frankly, I am at the end of my patience with this old house! Oh to have heat, uncomplicated heat. This is what they don't tell you about rural living.

via here
It's a conspiracy of beautiful real estate images; children frolicking in the garden, expansive views to the countryside, charming, quaint old houses with tumble-down flint walls. We have owned a townhouse and a new build house in the past; houses that functioned even through challenging weather. This house; no. It leeches water up from the sodden earth and it comes out of the walls as rising damp. Up until this winter (now that we have fixed some of the issues), every time it rained the drains overflowed into the garden into soapy puddles. It creaks and strains as the boards in the floor expand. The radiators knock and bang in the night. We look out onto acres of fields, which is lovely, but mud is a constant feature in my life. All the time, all through the winter. I can't set foot out of my door without coming into contact with mud!

No one tells you that rural living can be hard; sometimes lonely and isolated. We have neighbours in the strictest sense, but they on the horizon, across fields. I have a number of friends, who like me, have become disillusioned with the rural idyll. It has flaws. And we only live a mile from civilisation! I see so many people, who with young children, have an idea of moving to the country. We did the same. I can vividly remember viewing our house in May, wisteria blooming, with Boo aged three, running across the lawn. My husband and I imagining years ahead of wholesome, outdoorsy fun. Of course there have been those moments but now that our children are older, I can also clearly see the limitations. There is little sense of community unless you live amongst other people. We have to drive everywhere. All the time. First World problems...

So yesterday, we travelled up to London for a day and night. Partly because hotels have heat, which has become a precious commodity this half-term week. We met friends and spent the day around Fulham, mooching around the shops at Westfield and then dinner on the King's Road. As ever with London, I am struck by the sheer number of people, so many, so busy, a million little lives. And the stylish; looking much less incongruous in an urban setting than they do down here with the country bumpkins. I notice the endless stream of neon-clad runners; day and night. The cool eateries and bars. Walking by the oozing Thames River, flanked by low and high rise. The tourists and their cameras.

I conclude: am I a town or country mouse? It's always a pleasure to get back after the city and to see the familiarity of my home town. I don't think the puppy would like London; he is a field-running dog. And our country house? One day it will all be done (and warm) and one day I will master the complexities of the oil tank gauge. I see that we are lucky in many ways.


  1. Dear Louis, I wish you a warm mood! Spring is coming and the hot sun!

  2. Chin up buttercup, all will soon be well x x x

  3. We are in the midst of our most recent house search...and everything you mentioned has been a consideration. Which is why we are still renting!

  4. I am not sure what I am anymore. I am currently looking to buy a new property. I want to go out into the sticks but being warned by all my friends I won't survive. My Husband literally grew up right in the middle of Kensington (just off the wonderful Kensington Church street) and he definitely doesn't want to be too far from London. What a dilemma!!!

  5. Oh my Lou ~ running out of oil is not fun ~ thankfully we are on auto-refill and have never run out ~ knock wood. I consider myself a country girl but within a 10-20 minute drive to the city! Mind you our city is not big by any stretch of the imagination but I do like being just minutes away. Try and stay warm sweetie xo

  6. Oh Lou, this post resonates so much. My children are no longer living with us in this big, rattling home built in 1650. We are looking to move, we still need character, but I want new with character. The outskirts of a small town, where I can walk in with friends for a night out! I have found it.....just waiting for someone to come and love our old home and its eccentricities the way we have!

    Hope the oil delivery arrives soon......& the house warms up quick .....I know that takes an age! Xxxx

  7. Ooh gosh we are in West Dorset these days, although in a new build house in a little village so at least we are warm! I think if I won the lottery I'd have to treat myself to an uber cool modern city apartment AND a country retreat. There are things I like and dislike about both x

  8. Ich schließe daraus: ich bin eine Stadt oder Land-Maus? Es ist immer eine Freude, wieder nach der Stadt zu erhalten und die Bekanntheit von meiner Heimatstadt zu sehen. Ich glaube nicht, dass der Welpe möchten, London; er ist ein Feld-laufender Hund. Und unser Landhaus? Eines Tages wird alles getan werden (und warm) und eines Tages werde ich die Komplexität des Öltankanzeige zu meistern. Ich sehe, dass wir Glück haben in vielerlei Hinsicht.


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