I was brought up, in those formative years between 11 and 18 in a New Forest Cottage. When mum sold in 2006, she moved into a small local town and that was my last real contact with life in the countryside.
As we reached our 40s and the children their pre-teen years several people asked if we might move to the countryside. More space for the children to breathe and grow, all that greenery and open spaces. A number of these self-same people would wistfully imagine that life, aspiring to be able to generate such a move.
Life and times have moved on. We often spend time in Suffolk enjoying a weekend here and a few days there in deepest Suffolk.
But…. Why would I move from London? From South London? What on earth would the benefits be? Every conceivable cultural pursuit is here. Art, sport, poetry, theatre you name it. Every main line station leads to the rest of the country, we have airports to take you round the world. If you need care the best is here. Want to enjoy the best food? It’s here. What am I missing?
Fresh air and green spaces? Beautiful views?
Nah, not really. I walked Dog and we came home via Salter’s Hill Park on the edge of Sydenham Hill. As the two videos above show, we have green, we have views, we have pleasant lands. From here you can see the iconic buildings in the bowl of London, the Eye, and the Shard, the dome of St Paul’s and the Wembley arch. You can lose yourself in one of the greenest cities in the world; you can walk from here, sticking to parks and open spaces and loop round London and still never be more than thirty minutes from the middle. We were less than ten minutes walk from my front door which is less than 30 minutes from St Paul’s in the centre of town.
If you get stuck in traffic on some dull arterial road it is grim; the urban backside as you enter via the train networks makes you think, often enough of deprivation and decay.
But that is not this city; it is not my city, not as I see it and understand it and enjoy it.
I’ve lived in the countryside and it’s grand. For a weekend. Or the occasional week. I have dust and grit in my veins. I knew it when I went to Bristol at 18 for University and I’ve not changed my mind ever since. I am fortunate to have choices; I could move out. Pretty much anywhere that would have me.
But I won’t.
And Dog enjoys the London smells too