Rural life V suburban life

This might be deemed to be a bit of personal writing. As a bit of a nerd I tend to concentrate on factual stuff. Here I open a door on some of my opinions about village and town life.

I have experienced life in a number of different environments. I started life, unremembered by me, in a remote cottage several miles from the nearest village. At less than a year old my family moved to a village home. The village had its very useful shop and its pubs (not used by us).  Near at hand – 20 yards or so, you could reach the open countryside and farmland.

As I grew up our village became subsumed into a new town but it remained on the edge and the farmland, near at hand, still remains although it all feels less open than it once did.

As a student I lived in the London suburbs.

After my student days I spent a year in a village and then we bought our first home on the edge of a market town.

In 1976 we bought our present house. Our village had also once been a market town, but poor transport links led to a decline to little more than village status.

There are, of course, disadvantages to the rural way of life. The fairly poor transport links remain. We can catch buses to the local market town or to the city of Salisbury. Dr Beeching had our station (which was a mile or so from the village) closed in 1966. Now, our nearest station is about 8 miles away on a little used line between Swindon and Salisbury. We have never used that service. But we do, occasionally, drive more like twenty miles to catch a train.

Now consider emergency services. A fire engine has to come from the market town which is six miles away. We have called it out once when neighbouring children, playing with matches set fire to very dry grassland that threatened our hen house and their dad’s oxy-acetylene cylinders. The time until the arrival of the brigade seemed endless and it has to be said we had the fire out with our own hoses by the time they arrived. They made the fire raising youngsters play our hoses on the area for hours, to damp it down. We all knew it was safely out, but of course those kids were very frightened.

Ambulances also have to make that journey and then decide between three hospitals – all about twenty miles away. Fortunately there is a helicopter ambulance which can be very quick.

Still on disadvantages – even using a car can be a problem. The nearest petrol station is now some 4 miles away, across the remote lands of Salisbury Plain. Amazingly, that most local garage, in a neighbouring village, is usually relatively cheap. Devizes, our market town usually sells petrol at least 4p a litre above the national average.

And local food tends to be more expensive. Our co-op shop can’t benefit from bulk buying. It has very limited space. But at least we have a local shop.

Back in my student days, in southeast London, buses were so frequent that a timetable wasn’t needed. It was a five minute walk to the rail station with a train each way every half hour. Emergency services were all nearby and food was cheap.

But I prefer the rural life. This was the rather uninspiring view from my student accommodation.

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In fact, with trees and shrubs it wasn’t too bad at all, but there was no vista to enjoy. That contrasts with where I am now. On a frosty morning, I look out on this.

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But the main difference is in people. For suburban life I am tempted to (and will) misquote the poet Coleridge. ‘People, people everywhere nor anyone to know’.

If I walk down to our village centre as I do frequently, I almost always meet people to chat with. And we can chat quite happily with people we don’t know as well. The whole place has a friendly feel to it. Nobody will tell you it’s perfect but I certainly find our village a very happy place to live.

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