|Darling, I've seen this wonderful|
pair of shoes......
I have always wanted to live in the country - ever since I saw Catherine Zeta Jones floating about in “Darling Buds of May” - I had visions of making jam to go with my freshly baked, home-made bread; of hanging out great billowing lines of pure, white washing; of shooing chickens from around my feet; of butterflies blowing in the breeze through a sun-dappled orchard, of the drowsy humming of a bumble bee.....
So, 12 years ago I bought into the dream and left London for a sleepy Suffolk village. However, here are just some of the things they don't mention in the brochure.........
|Totally unsuitable for avoiding cow pats|
or attending Summer Fayres in the rain
- You can bin the Jimmy Choos. They are absolutely rubbish for walking through a village which hardly has any pavements: This is especially so in the spring (rain), summer (dust), autumn (mud) and winter (snow). Likewise, you can replace the delicately embroidered wool coat with a battered old wax jacket for the same reason
- You get an abundance of "mobile units" turning up at the village green. Here we have a mobile library; a mobile barber; a mobile vet; a mobile dentist and a mobile police station. However, can you get a pizza delivered? Not on your nelly. - you're out of delivery range. Swings and roundabouts I suppose.
|We should have turned|
left at Albuquerque -
this isn't Fulham Broadway
- You regularly get to play: “let's all hunt the road sign”. This is a particularly favourite game of mine, whereby you blithely follow at least a dozen, clearly marked road signs to some remote hamlet, only to find they disappear completely and you have no idea of: a) where you are because the GPS signal is weak, or b) where you are going because you are now surrounded by miles and miles of open space. Family fun in the school holidays guaranteed;
- You can ditch the make-up. No amount of MAC transparent finishing powder is going to help when you are trying to scoop up a dead rabbit, armed with nothing but 2 long-handle shovels and a pair of rubber gloves.
- People talk to you. Strangers. Checkout cashiers. Restaurant staff. GP receptionists. Upon my arrival, I spent the first 6 months clutching my mobile phone to my chest because I thought they wanted to mug me. Turned out they were actually being friendly..
- Folks are also more trusting here. I have seen laptops and handbags left unattended in coffee shops whilst the owners goes to the toilet. Car Sat Navs and portable DVD players left in full view without a care. Not to mention numerous babies left strapped in car seats and toddlers playing with the stereo/indicators, whilst the parents pop into school or a shop. Stuff that makes you go: “whoah! That's really not a good idea....;
|One of the locals|
- Your 9 year old daughter can go into town wearing welly boots, blue eyeshadow and fairy wings all at the same time and no-one will bat an eyelid. Actually, I could go into town wearing welly boots, blue eyeshadow and fairy wings and no-one would say anything! Now, try doing that on a Saturday night round the Elephant & Castle;
- Growing vegetables is not as easy as Alan Titchmarsh would have you believe. I imagined my faux-French, farmhouse-style dining room table groaning under the weight of my very own harvest. Oh, how we would relish in the knowledge that everything we produced was organic and wholesome and tasty. The reality of course, was entirely different:
Carrots: 9 - either too small to peel/cook or had already been tasted by some bug;
Peas: tons – we had boiled peas, stir-fried peas, raw peas, pea soup, pea and ham soup, pea risotto, peas au gratin, rice and peas, creamed peas and braised peas. I never want to see another one of those tiny green blighters again;
Parsnips: 1 - very small & misshapen.... more of a novelty item really.....;
The lettuce was slightly more successful, but it has its limits. I mean, there is only so much of the stuff you can eat before you die of boredom - even if you do try to liven it up with a few peas.
As for my home-made bread and jam - well, they probably deserve a blog-post of their own and our poor survival rate in keeping goldfish put us off from rearing any other livestock, so the chickens remain pie in the sky.
I'm still here after 12 years. I doubt Catherine Zeta Jones would last 12 days.