‘Peace and Quiet’ are the words that most people would probably use to describe country living. In some ways this can be true – especially at night when most of the residents are in bed and any visitors are either settled into their overnight accommodation or have gone home. When the sun has gone down the countryside sleeps – or so most people think. But have you ever heard owls shrieking, badgers snuffling, foxes rifling through your bins or hedgehogs mating on the lawn – noisy or what! The dawn chorus heralds the start of a new Spring day, with a cacophony of, tweets, twitters and cooing from trees and rooftops, then the golden sun rises over the Peak District and illuminates a Derbyshire Dale or High Peak hilltop in a blaze of glory.
This is when country living is at a premium and you awake with the desire to get outside as quickly as possible to enjoy such a wonderful day of country living. Winter or wet days on the other hand can be a nightmare, with snow blocking the driveway and no gritting lorry in sight or swollen and mud everywhere. Country living in a very rural location means that there are few if any buses or other forms of public transport – the railway system mainly avoids the other than a brief stretch of track between tunnels in the north. Gas guzzling 4-wheel drive vehicles are therefore not just for show but a necessity in many parts – to be without a vehicle in the countryside can mean isolation or begging lifts from neighbours. Cows in a field grazing on rich Derbyshire pasture and chewing the cud is a scene of serenity reminiscent of a summers day in Lurpak Land, but on Monday morning all is not happy down on the milk farm when Mr Farmer takes the calves to Bakewell Market to sell when only a few days old and the heartbroken cow spends days scouring the fields and blorting (noisily crying out) for her baby. Milk is a staple part of our diet and a spell of country living makes you realise that it doesn’t just come from a bottle or carton! Being a milk farmer is hard work with few rewards.
The cows need milking at least twice a day, every day, even Christmas Day! Many of the hill farms of the Peak District and Derbyshire rear sheep by the score, with fields and moorland dotted with their fluffy shapes. Country living means bulk buy shopping and making sure you write a list before you drive miles to the supermarket – most of the little villages are now devoid of a shop or post office. Country living therefore means making do with what you’ve got or remembering to buy it next time you’re in town. Country living entertainment is walking, hiking, rambling or cycling, with horse riding for those that can afford it and lots of lovely pub lunches. The nearest town might have a library or even the luxury of a swimming pool, but often there are few cinemas, although we do have the odd theatre and amateur dramatics group as well as a few talented musicians who can strum up a tune in the corner of a bar. So why do I love living in the country? I feel safe and secure surrounded by fields and farmland.
I can happily walk my dog along paths and tracks through fantastic scenery that is pleasing to the eye and satisfying to the soul. Some people think that villages are losing their community spirit, but that is not always the case. Many villages are fighting hard to retain their customs and traditions, to keep in touch with their neighbours and to join in village activities wherever possible. There are nursery schools, playgroups and a handful of small village schools where young mums (and dads) involve themselves in fund-raising events and after school parties. Country living means fetes, carnivals and processions. Car boot sales, coffee mornings and charity stalls with volunteer helpers, tea and home-made cakes. Country living means fresh air (not when the muck spreader has been out though), home-grown vegetables and farmers markets, and local enterprises offering quality produce and crafts. Country living is walking in the great outdoors and the freedom to roam, red cheeks in winter and a golden tan in summer, log fires and real ale . Living in the country is the life for me!