I sat in my brother’s garden this morning, drinking coffee, listening to the birdsong and watching the friendly robin bob in and out of the back door picking up crumbs.
I love the country – I grew up in a little village in Bedfordshire where we’d go and feed the donkey after school and spend our weekends and those endless summer holidays making dens in the spinney and the abandoned quarry over the fields and far away. We’d picnic by the oak that John Bunyan used as a pulpit and climb through and round it’s hollow trunk. We were always outside, up to no good, living charmed lives. One afternoon we had a ride in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – no joke, friends of my friend’s parents had acquired one of the cars used for the film and were kind enough to ferry hoardes of giggling, over excited 7 and 8 year olds around the village. Later, my son was christened in the old village church on the day a stained glass window was dedicated to the grandfather he’ll never know.
I vowed that any child of mine would have a similar childhood – little village school, fresh air, part of a gang of tousle headed boys making dens. If we’d stayed at La Croix Haute he might have had that – and been a fluent French speaker by now – but stuff happens and you find yourself in Warminster on sea with the dog shit on the pavemetys and the ongoing battle for supremacybetween the buggies and the mobility scooters and a secret cache of middle class chums who couldn’t quite afford Brighton and pretend otherwise and salt of the earth working class school run mums who’d do anything for you. It’s not a bad place to live but it aint the country, Because in the South you can’t afford the country.
It’s another thread in the tapestry of reasons why France is the attractive option – we can trade our big old Victorian semi for a farmhouse, with land, and barns and have cash in the bank to create something special – for ourselves, for our guests. Where you can have coffee in the morning and hear nothing but birdsong.