The pros and cons of living in 'the sticks'


Dear Reader,

I live in the middle of nowhere.

Whatever image that sentence conjures to your mind, I assure you, it is more remote.

Often when I tell people I live in the countryside, they don't quite comprehend just how rural I mean. I live a fifteen-minute drive/ hour or more walk from the nearest shop (unless you count my village post office - which is a thirty-minute walk away, open about twice a week for an hour, stocks newspapers and ancient-looking digestive biscuits and has been run by Daphne since around the 1960s). My neighbours are cows, which is not a degradation of their character but a referral to the actual black and white animal. I can walk around my local area for hours and not see a soul or a single car on the road; oh yes - and the roads are all single track.

When friends have first visited my home, they all say something along the lines of "Oh my God, it really is the sticks!" or give me a panicked sidelong glance and clutch their phone as they whisper "Where are you taking me?"

To some of you, living your whole life in an area so rural might seem like the worst possible thing that could ever be inflicted upon a human, and yes, there are some definite struggles I've had to learn to live with. To others, you might immediately think how lucky and privileged I am to live in such a tranquil place - and you're right I do feel that way.

In fact here is a whole list of pros and cons that have become especially more prevalent during this 'lockdown' COVID-19 era.

Pros

1. Tranquillity/ feeling 'at one' with nature

Possibly the most obvious, and perhaps for many people the only decent thing about rural England is the nice country walks and rolling green scenery. Plenty of wildlife as well as farm livestock and birds as well for those of you who are into all that.

I really do take for granted the amazing view I have from my house, which you can see a fraction of in the header picture taken from my garden.

2. Peace and quiet

I didn't quite realise how silent it is around here, especially at night, until I went to uni and realised how loud a city is. I couldn't sleep for weeks just because every time an ambulance siren went off or I heard people's voices I would jolt awake.

Some people find it a bit creepy when they come to stay, especially when foxes start doing that horror movie scream, but I find it so peaceful and relaxing (not the fox screams, even I find them a bit scary).

3. Introvert's dream

If you're an introvert like me, living in the countryside is living the dream. If I put a small amount of effort into it I can go weeks without seeing a soul outside my family. The only time I come in contact with other humans is if I pass another dog walker, and a lot of the time that doesn't even happen...makes social distancing very easy as well.


4. A good talking point

I thought living in the middle of nowhere was the norm growing up. I had only one friend who lived in a town (shout out Lucy), and up until university knew nobody else who lived in an 'urban' setting. As a consequence I'm definitely incredibly sheltered - at least my secondary school was in a small town so I could acquaint myself with tarmac before heading off to live in Bristol for uni.

At uni, I abruptly found out it is not the norm, and to my surprise, everyone was quite interested in where I lived and I love talking about it. I once told my flatmate who lives in central London that I had cows in the field next to my house and she proclaimed with a pale face that she didn't realise "Celtic settlements still existed".

5. Childhood

I know people who live in towns and cities could probably say the same, but my childhood was spent almost exclusively outdoors. I would spend all day making dens in the woods or playing tags across the fields.

Most of the time I looked like Stig of the dump.

I feel like being in the countryside growing up was a great thing, especially as a small child.

Cons

1. Making plans is an operation

I found this especially challenging around my early teens when I would want to go see friends. To get to any of my friend's houses or them to me - you need a car. There are no busses or trains and everyone lives *very* spread out. Two of my closest friends lived an over an hour away each. 

This would mean you would have to plan weeks in advance for a time when your parents could drive you there, or at least halfway so you could do a child handover at a service station.

My parents were always pretty generous with their taxi services, however, asking them to take you was always a stressful operation where they would moan and groan and make you feel terrible until they finally relented.

2. You have to drive everywhere

As I just mentioned, the nearest train station is the other side of town (25 minutes drive) and so everyone who is 17 in my area learns to drive as fast as they can.

The day I got my licence and insured on my car I genuinely fist-bumped and crazy danced the whole drive to work, just because I knew I wouldn't have to make my parents pick me up in the early hours when my shift finished.

3. Boredom

Because of all of the above and the general factor that absolutely *nothing* happens here because there are very few humans, it can be a really boring place to live.

Even my introverted self likes company other than my family - I'm sure everyone is feeling the same levels of stir-crazy now we are in quarantine!

When I was younger I couldn't just pop into town and hang out with other people or go shopping or to the cinema, I had to make my own fun a lot of the time. I would spend days on end in the holidays reading and watching tv back to back or playing with my brothers. I honestly attest almost all my hobbies to not being able to go anywhere or do anything.

4. Wifi, or lack thereof

One issue that has burdened me most of my teenage years but especially now we are in quarantine and all my uni work and communication with the outside world is online is the lack of wifi signal.

Because my area is so rural, my wifi has significant issues. When people facetime me or I have uni meetings I either can't even get onto the meeting or I'm a grainy blur. If my younger brother is doing online school, forget it. The wifi we have doesn't even stretch to my bedroom.

Today my wifi cut out 31 times (yes I counted) and is currently averaging a speed of 23KB a second (that is really REALLY slow).

I know I'm lucky to even have wifi that I don't even have to pay for thanks to currently living at home - but it is definitely a frustrating situation.

***

There are many more things I could add to this list, but these are the ones that come to mind immediately. 

All in all, I am utterly in love with where I live.

Hebe x






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