Eight years since moving to the country

Picture of the back of our house with back door and bow window

Roses by the back door

The Jubilee weekend also marked eight year since we first moved from London to Suffolk, swapping Hackney for Hadleigh.

Nice of the government to lay on a couple of bank holidays. I felt less fond as our home insurance renewal thudded into my inbox, always a chunky sum to cover a listed building, and the real reason I remember the anniversary of our moving. That, and the explosion of roses all round the house, climbing roses, dog roses and bushes in a scented rainbow of colours.

Just as our first year in Suffolk was marked by changing schools, with my youngest moving from nursery to primary school, so this year was marked by switching to secondary. We’ve never known life here without Hadleigh Community Primary, so it really does feel like the end of an era. 

Thankfully the Covid restrictions have also been coming to an end, although not soon enough for my youngest to experience the normal end of primary concerts, play, outward bound week away and summer fete. Sports day was held without any parents to cheer them on, and a short ceremony for his final day was held in the playground rather than the school hall, but he did get an end-of-term leavers disco. 

During our summer holidays we did venture beyond Suffolk, though still not overseas – a week in a cottage in Kent and an August bank holiday on a narrow boat, pottering along the Kennet & Avon canal between Bradford on Avon and Bath. Then the return to school in September. My youngest seems to have settled in well, while school remains tough for my oldest. 

Picture of Christmas dinner in Hadleigh

Back to feeding the five thousand on Christmas Day

This year I have been immensely grateful about the return to some form of normality. I kept waiting for restrictions on socialising to be introduced before Christmas, humming and hawing about turkey sizes and fretting about quantities of pigs in blankets. We imposed our own quarantine faced with the Omicron variant, as plans for my oldest’s birthday celebrations dwindled from a day in London to laser tag in Bury St Edmunds to ice skating in Colchester to the final take away pizza at home. 

In the end, after my sister and her family emerged unscathed from Covid infections and dashed down from Edinburgh on Christmas Eve, we hosted 11 of us on Christmas Day including my mother and parents-in-law, and the 12 for my husband’s birthday aka Boxing Day. Back to normal with New Year’s Eve, celebrating with familiar faces in London, with only a couple of absentees kept away by Covid. Back to normal celebrating several big birthdays this year, inviting friends here for the May Bank holiday and even celebrating a wedding. The university reunion I was due to attend in March 2020 finally took place on the third attempt, only two years late. I stayed awake chatting until 5am (!) in the morning, which is unheard of for me, helped by avoiding a killer combo of port, cigars and Caribbean spiced rum.

We’ve been able to return to family outings that don’t just involve a bracing walk. Visits to museums and galleries, day trips to London, catching James Bond at the cinema (Club Lloyds vouchers) and the latest Fantastic Beasts film (NatWest Rewards). My husband and I have seen a couple of comedians perform live, thanks to discount seat filler tickets from ShowFilmFirst, I took a couple of friends to an immersive experience of the Great Gatsby, thanks to the Society London Theatre’s New Year Sale, and I’ve taken the kids trampolining, courtesy of ProInsight mystery shopping.

I did finally succumb to Covid myself, although thankfully after two jabs and a booster it was the chance to retreat to bed with a book for a few days rather than anything longer lasting.

Picture of sheep being displayed to the judges, with the marquees and hills behind

Competing sheep at the Hadleigh Show

We’ve also welcomed the return of familiar celebrations here in Hadleigh. The delayed ‘Hidden Gardens of Hadleigh’ in September, when I got to go round with my mother for the first time. The return of the 184th Hadleigh Show, with more sheep, cows, horses, agricultural implements and padded gilets than you can shake a stick at. Sadly there wasn’t a poultry tent due to avian flu, and back at home we’re now down from three chickens to one, though Otto the dog remains in fine form.

Picture of the deanery and church spire with picnic tables for the Jubilee

Jubilee lunch in the Deanery gardens

Which brings us back to the Jubilee weekend, marked by making sandwiches and a Victoria sponge for the Jubilee party on the road next to us, taking the children to a Jubilee fun fair, heading to the Deanery Gardens for Jubilee picnic lunch, and inviting my mother-in-law over for a cream tea. Sadly my father-in-law is seriously ill in hospital right now. We are all grieving that this year could mark the end of another era.

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4 Comments

  1. 11th June 2022 / 2:41 pm

    Such a different kind of rural life from ours. I checked and Suffolk has a population density of 5oo people per square mile. The rural southern county I live in here in the US has a population density of 43 people per square mile. If I walk through my back yard into the woods I can walk for a couple of miles and never see another house and I’m only a half mile outside the city limits of a town larger than Hadleigh. Plus the city and county we’ve lived in for over forty years now both lose population every year as young people much prefer larger cities over rural life. But my wife and I, like you prefer a less crowded environment.

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