The weekend before last marked six years since we moved to the country, making the big leap from London to Suffolk.
I’ve never been so grateful for the move as during lockdown.
All the best parts of living in the country have come to the fore: more space, more light, a garden bigger than a rug, views out over the fields and country walks right from our door. As someone who normally works from home in glorious peace, it hasn’t been easy having two children and a husband around 24/7, but at least we have space to spread out. The garden has been a huge help, whether for the kids to play baseball, go camping, or bounce on the trampoline, or for me and my husband to sit around and consider gardening.
When we venture outside, living in a small market town makes social distancing easier because there are far fewer people. Fundamentally, the pavement and shops are less crowded. When we were self-isolating and relied on supermarket deliveries, it was difficult to book slots, but not completely impossible, just because there was less demand. We’re so lucky that we can head straight out for country walks. Lockdown finally prompted me to dig out the ordinance survey map bought aeons ago, so we could explore different routes.
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Meanwhile many of the things I love about city living disappeared during lockdown, with shops, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, libraries, leisure centres, playgrounds, galleries and museums all shut. The benefits of a short commute evaporate when working from home. If anything, I’ve chatted more to friends during lockdown, because it’s easier to join a Zoom call from Suffolk than meet in a local café. I do still envy anyone with faster broadband and less patchy mobile coverage though!
We listened to the news in horror as coronavirus infection rates exploded in London. Locally, the death rate involving Covid-19 has been 6.5 per 100,000 people. In Hackney, where we lived before, it’s been nearly three times as bad, at 18 per 100,000.
On the positive side, I’ve been blown away by how the local community here sprang into action to support older people and those who were sheltering. Altogether, 150 of us volunteered to field calls and run thousands of errands from shopping and collecting prescriptions to delivering meals and walking dogs.
We’ve been lucky enough to stay healthy. In many ways, our life hasn’t changed much during lockdown. It’s been a Groundhog Day repeating lazy Saturdays, pottering around the house and garden and going out for a walk, but with some homeschooling thrown in. I try not to dwell on the cancellation of so many events we enjoy each year, from Cub and Scout camps to the Hadleigh Show, Hidden Gardens of Hadleigh, Duck & Raft Races and the annual May bank holiday visit. Even VE Day could only be marked at home. Here’s hoping our favourites return in 2021.
Life before lockdown
Looking back over the last year, we’ve seen some big changes. When we moved, my children were four and six. My youngest was still at nursery. Now, my daughter has started at secondary school, and my son has only a year to go until he leaves primary himself. Where has that time gone?
My mother has also moved over from Madeira. Rather than being an ocean and an air fare away, she now lives down the road, and has thrown herself into Hadleigh life.
Our other big news, after much discussion and pester power, was finally getting a dog. We brought Otto the cairn terrier puppy home in early February. With hindsight, it was perfect timing just before lockdown, even if we haven’t been able to attend puppy classes and he gets immeasurably excited when seeing new people or dogs. Now, of course, we can’t imagine life without him.
I had hoped to have some exciting news to share about our garden, hence the delay in publishing this post, but it’s not quite sorted yet. Keep your fingers crossed next week…
However, we have (finally) fenced off the end of our garden for Chicken World, and celebrated the start of our seventh year in Suffolk by acquiring three brown hens!
Now – over to you. Anything you’d like to know about moving to the country? Any tips to share? Do say in the comments, I’d love to hear!
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