Five things country life offers that big cities just can’t.
The Sticks, the Back of Beyond, Hicksville – all derogatory names for the countryside – each having a dig at the supposedly culturally backward, sleepy nature of country life.
Yet how many urbanites yearn to leave behind the noise, grime and compulsion to pick up ragged copies of the Metro on public transport? Not to mention the endless proximity to other people – let’s face it do you want to be up close and personal with everyone you meet?
It’s a fact, millions of people would flee to the country given half a chance. Why is it that the first thing people do when they make it big, is buy a big pile in the country?
It’s because country life is good. Truly good. Actually good. Offering a freedom that you can only dream of in the city.
It’s an irony of city life that living cheek by jowl results in not saying hello to anyone and not knowing your neighbours as anything other than weird woman with cat, or annoying lycra man with bike or the old fella upstairs.
There’s not anything stopping you from saying hello, or getting to know your neighbours it’s just that you don’t.
As soon as you move to a small town or village it becomes normal to say hello and introduce yourself to your neighbours. Before you know it weird woman with cat has become Sandy who will let the plumber in for you while you’re at work. Lycra man is James and really isn’t annoying once you get to know him – though you still don’t feel comfortable talking to him in those very tight lycra shorts. And the old fella upstairs is Mr Thomson and he shares your love of a single malt.
It’s not that staring up at the expansive sky, free of light pollution and populated with an infinity of far off stars is the only entertainment on offer. We have box sets, Netflix and the telly too. But we don’t need Brian Cox coaxing us softly in his simpering tones to invite us to contemplate the galaxies beyond. We simply step out our back doors and look up at the constellations.
Our neighbouring county, Northumberland is home to the 3rd largest area of protected dark sky in the world. It’s also home to Kielder Observatory, a unique star gazing facility which you can with events, open to the public, running almost every day of the year.
Failing this you can buy a telescope, or, you’ll find, that deep in the sticks the zoom on your smart phone camera will allow you to study the surface of the moon. Not if you live in the city though – not a hope – light pollution. Find apps that let you explore the moon at Space.com.
We mentioned freedom, didn’t we? Life in the country offers a host of small everyday liberties, things like putting out the rubbish in your PJs. Who’s to see you? Who’s to care?
Or, actually having a rubbish bin that’s your own and not some enormous vat of communal waste that is so filled with other people’s stuff that you can’t fit your minimal contribution to landfill in the stupid thing.
Then there’s parking your car within striking distance of your home instead of competing with all the other rats for a space so distant from where you live that when you next come to use the car you can’t remember where it is.
If you live in the country there’s no need to go to the zoo, the zoo will come to you. OK, so unless you live in an African national park the visiting wildlife won’t be of the exotic, leonine variety. But if you have even a tiny patch of outdoor space you can attract all manner of creatures to your home; birds, hedgehogs, frogs and toads.
No Traffic Jams
Even when the country is working full pelt at the height of harvest and it seems every combine and tractor is out chundering the fields, the noise and inconvenience can’t mimic the frenzied pace of city life. What’s ten minutes spent contemplating the bouncing rear end of a tractor-man on his spring seat as you wait to overtake compared to the daily frustration of sitting in gridlock?
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