Wilderness

One of my sister lives about 30 minutes drive in that direction. During 2020 it might as well have been 1000 miles. No chance of seeing her.

Where we live always feels like it’s so cut off from the world. Sometimes it’s so easy to forget that a city is not that far a drive away. It’s one of those rare cities that hasn’t allowed any high rise buildings. It hides easily away on the horizon.

That feeling of being cut off is helped by lack of kinks we have with the outside world. If you don’t want to use the car then it’s two small buses a day. Nothing on a Sunday. The village doesn’t have a pub, or cafe, or school, or shop. Not quite tumbleweed levels but definitely quiet and often feeling most definitely cut off. During a pandemic even the occasional rambler has become a real rarity. The only evidence that an outside world still exists is the fairly regular stream of passing cyclists. The challenge of climbing the steep hill to the village is attractive to those on two wheels. A climb I’ve not undertaken since a few weeks before the world changed for me in 2016.

A lots happened in those years. Thoughts of needing a sportier frame have morphed into ‘that ornament gathering dust is taking up too much space in the increasingly cramped garage’.

But things will change eventually. We won’t seem so cut off again. The bike will again become a means of transport. Trips to the city and my sister will recommence. Life will become connected again. Even for those living in the wilderness……

Big sky

I’ve talked about it before but two things really sold our house to us. We were thinking about starting a family. We wanted somewhere quiet with a bit of a garden. We looked at a few places and then we visited this little bungalow in a small village on a hill. The bungalow was a bit small and run down but then we looked out at the overgrown back garden. That view and that sky. There was nothing to block out the view of the clouds. It was a BIG SKY. That was it were were hooked.

It’s definitely still a BIG SKY.

It still kind of takes my breath away. I’ve always been a town and city person. Grow accustomed to buildings and trees blocking out large parts of the sky. At night the artificial lighting just drowning out what sky that is still there. That just doesn’t happen here.

A BIG SKY definitely deserves big dreams. I do need to start working on those. Sometimes it’s too easy to fall back on memories. It certainly is for me. Not today. I’m going to get wrapped up, brew a mug of something steaming and go outside. To look, to breathe and to dream. All thanks to a big sky.

Night

I was brought up in a busy Yorkshire seaside town. Then I’ve done a bit of an English City Tour. Lived in Newcastle, Coventry, Portsmouth, London, Birmingham then York. Places with lots of noise, people and action. You get acclimatised to it. Becomes the norm.

Then we moved to a village in the countryside.

It all suddenly changed. The very first thing that struck me was how dark the night was. In a city you get street lights, car headlights, light shining out of window after window, late night shops, restaurants, advertising billboards …… its night but it’s never dark.

But in our village it’s all different. This is the view looking one way down the village street after the sun has set. It’s so dark.

The other way facing East is even darker.

No street lighting here. Hardly any cars on a night. The nearest shop is in another village 5 miles away and that shuts at 5pm. There’s a pub in another village 3 miles in the other direction. Another village a few miles away has a coffee and cake shop – that only opens a few hours a week. That’s it.

That takes a lot of adjustment for an urban bod like me. The first week I was here I went out to post a letter in the village mail box – after dark. I foolishly went without a torch. It was too dark I couldn’t find it. In fact when I decided to go back for a torch, I couldn’t find our house. Took me ages to stumble upon it. That’s properly dark.

The peace and quiet is wonderful. Not having to continually lock your door is refreshing. So is the feeling that your kids can wander a little more safely. To see the night sky without light pollution is awesome – you can so easily forget just how beautiful it is. But there are prices to pay for that.

No popping out for a loaf of bread or takeaway meal in the evening. It’s a 20 minute drive to the nearest late night shop. By the time you return with takeaway food, it’s cold.

Although you are in the country. In natural space. The night can feel suffocating. Very claustrophobic. No sign of human life, you can so easily feel a million miles from anyone. Especially in winter, you will go days without seeing another person. What was the ALIENS line – no one can hear you scream in space.

Village life has so many positives but you need to be prepared. It can be so tough as well.

BUT ITS WORTH IT….

Village life

It’s almost time for these biscuit munchers to move to another field. The cows are massing, waiting to hit the field for the summer months. Hopefully the three cow friends of our dog are still here. Dog is wagging his tail at the sight of the herd in the distance.

That’s country life for you right there. That’s as exciting and as racy as it gets here. It’s such a different life pace than living in the city. It took me a couple of years to adjust. Life never stands still in the city. Constant noise, constant movement. Even at night it never stopped. So much light pollution, sirens wailing, so much human nightlife. Yes immediate access to facilities and entertainment but it comes at a price.

Here we get a chip van that comes once a week. A cycle race comes through maybe every couple of months. Once a year a vintage car rally might stop off. That’s it for the days. With the spaces and high hedgerows you hardly ever see signs of human life. That’s such a good thing somedays…. Son and I have our little challenges with forfeits. Basically it gives Son an opportunity to torture his Dad. I remember one challenge where the loser had to run round the garden ten times – naked. The inevitable happened and I found the whole experience most liberating. In a city that sort of behaviour would have got me quickly arrested. Here in the village all it produced was much chuckling from Son and bemused looks from the cows.

At night no street lighting or light pollution. No pub to foster human nightlife. Wander into your garden and it’s pitch black. The only noise is from the wildlife. I’ve told the story from the first night before. Stood outside looking at the stars. Amazed at how many I could see. Then a deeply unsettling feeling. I am not alone. I am being watched. Suddenly countless eyes appear at the fence. I of course took it in my stride. Screamed and ran. The eyes later revealed to be many sheep clearly waiting for biscuits.

But over the years it’s all changed. Now I find cities claustrophobic and unsettling. I’m not sure I could ever go back to living in one again. Certainly Son would struggle. He enjoys his space and the quiet. City life would be too many people in too little space. Too many sensory distractions. I remember my partner saying that we will never return to urban life. We might end up being in this house for the rest of our lives. She was right, sadly far too quickly right.