Well we’ve finally gone and done it – moved full time to Somerset – bye bye London!
It’s now nearly seven years ago that I quit my job as CEO of a charity and went back to university to retrain as a jewellery designer. Having made that career change – and subsequently established myself as a designer/maker – moving to the country was the logical next step in the process of simplifying my life and downshifting. It certainly feels like a new and very different phase: I’ve spent all my adult life living in the inner city, and have never lived in the country before.
I’m really going to miss our old house in London, which really was a very special house, but at least I know that the new occupants are really nice people who already love their new home and will take good care of her.
I’m going to miss the old London garden in particular, as it really was my favourite place, and I spent many happy hours there.
When we took on this little country cottage the garden was a complete wilderness: you had to slash your way through to the end, and peep through bushes to get a glimpse of the view beyond. It was sad, because the cottage had been a weekend retreat for my in-laws and in it’s prime had been very well tended.
Anyway, with a major renovation on our hands, the garden had to be razed. Luckily a friend of mine fostered the few plants we could salvage.
The garden became a building site. At least this gave us an idea of how much space we had, which was much more than we’d expected.
We planned a terrace next to the house, then a cottage garden, then fruit and vegetable beds (that was before we got the allotment!), and then a gravel garden with another terrace at the end overlooking the valley. In case you hadn’t gathered – it’s a long thin garden!
The bare earth stage was very difficult for me: I missed the lushness of my mature London garden! We’ve spent a lot of time this spring visiting plant sales and open gardens, and with the addition of kind donations and lots of hard work, the garden is now looking quite green and floriferous. Amazing when you consider that the first plant only went in one year ago! Of course the hedges help a lot. Wish I could think of a good way to use all those redundant plastic plant pots…
Gardening’s always a bit of trial and error with the hens. I love the way free-ranging hens bring the garden to life, so in general my policy is that plants have to stand up for themselves against the hens: they don’t get mollycoddled. We’ve made an exception with the vegetable beds which as you can see are netted, and the new roses are getting protected until they’re a bit bigger. But apart from them, every plant gets taste tested! Bizarrely, the hens seem to go for different things at different times: the alchemilla mollis which was very hen-pecked in London is completely ignored here!
A real bonus is the view from the end of the garden, which emerged once the ‘hedge’ was hacked down. It’s terrific (though often also terrifically windy). I’m looking forward to having the terrace that overlooks it a bit more sorted: at the moment it’s just a pile of gravel with a bench in the middle!
Anyway – big move done! I’m now settling into life in the country… and hopefully a few more regular blog posts!