I recently went away meaning I had to find boarding accommodation for the chickens and guinea pigs. When handing them over to their holiday home I gave their treats for the week to the nice young man on the farm where they were staying. As he took them from me, I could tell he was a little puzzled.
‘They were on special offer,’ I said, somewhat defensively as I gave him the three pack of Waitrose essential tinned sweetcorn for the chickens and bag of Waitrose carrots for the guinea pigs. It occurred to me that nearly two years on I was probably influenced by my previous city life more than I thought. I have thrown myself into rural life and have adjusted in lots of ways. I don’t go to the local shop at 7pm on a Sunday night and expect it to be open anymore and I’m totally used to the local takeaway being a chip van in a layby one day a week. However, l thought I would share the ways I’d noticed myself and other city incomers were perhaps not as ‘rural’ as those that were born and bred into the country life.
Still shouting and pointing at the wildlife
Myself and my husband still do this even if the kids aren’t in the car and journeys are punctuated by yells of ‘cow!’, ‘deer!’, ‘pheasant!’ or for extra bonus points and excitement x1000 ‘badger!’ or ‘buzzard!’ The wildlife that was two a penny in London, but we see less often here such as squirrels or foxes rarely get a mention. The husband even slows near roadkill to mention ‘that was a badger’. I’m not sure this is necessarily a bad thing in terms of appreciating the local wildlife and enjoying having sheep in the field across the road as these were all things we moved to the country for in the first place.
A yearning for pavements
Do I miss the gob strewn dirty streets of Hackney? Not really, nor do I miss weaving around the drunks and mobile snatching cyclists on the school run. However, being able to walk on a strip of flat concrete without the danger of getting mown down by a horse box is rather under rated. At least in London you don’t have to dive in a hedge when a car comes and a piece of the highway dedicated to pedestrians is actually very useful.
Buying livestock which end up as pets
The dreams of buying a weaner pig or two to have your own tasty sausages is all well and good if it goes to plan. However, it is easy to end up with a 50kg pet as your meat eating children decide that they will ‘rescue’ your pigs and not send them for slaughter after all. Make no mistake, they are not offering to look after this pig in any way (this will all be on you) but will happily guilt trip you into keeping Percy even when he’s taking up most of your land and eating everything in sight. Luckily this was something that was discussed before we went down this route. I thought the family would enjoy rearing their own bacon but when they all looked at me like I was some kind of monster it was obvious it was never going to work, so we stuck to guinea pigs. The chickens most definitely are pets but do earn their keep by laying eggs. Obviously, the chickens are all really pretty rather than the brown rangers which a proper farmer would keep.
Waving enthusiastically at people on horseback
Horse riding is not new to us, we would often see the riot police on their horses and would wave to them too. This habit has stuck and we still wave and grin at all horse riders like they are celebrities. (Although obviously horses are massive so we don’t want to get too close).
Not minding when you are stuck behind a tractor
Tractors are still a novelty so pootling behind one at a speed that means you will most definitely miss your dentist’s appointment is not a problem. It’s a tractor, the dentist will understand this, because he a country person, like you.