Sunday, 13 September 2009


City mouse, country mouse

Yesterday we went to visit some friends who have just bought a cottage in Aberfoyle in Stirlingshire. They're lovely folk who are just about to have their first baby in November, and I was curious to see where they have laid down roots for their impending family of three. Within seconds of our arrival, the kids were in the back garden on the swing set:

We don't have this, we have a communal back garden that's landscaped. With nine retired neighbours who watch our every move from the window lest the kids disturb the garden. Let me pan out:

That spot of water that you can see is Loch Ard. And let's swivel around to the other direction:

Those are (I believe, pardon my ignorance) the Trossachs. We went for a walk down their quiet lane towards the village, and met a stream and bridge:

And a further three minutes down the road, a playground right at lochside:

Here's a random Bavarian milkmaid with a rather fetching bag me at the playground:

And a closer photo of Loch Ard:

And the boys admiring the view:

And another swivel to the side:

We had such a nice day, a glorious day, a perfect day... Well, minus the fact that Maia was foam-at-the-mouth jealous that Daddy's friend was named 'Jamie' and not Maia, and cried half the way home as our Jamie rubbed it in.

I grew up in the woods of northwest Connecticut, no neighbours for miles, just forest. Wild animals, adventure, tree forts, and freedom. No threat of traffic, no worries of 'predatory strangers', my parents let me and my friends roam free in the woods for hours in the age before cell phones. We were around, somewhere, and that was enough. We would come back when we were hungry, or tired or it was getting dark. And we did. But growing up in the middle of nowhere made me want to live in a city, I wanted what I never had. The convenience, the culture, the architecture, the history, the bustle, the ready-made friends just next door. But that's just me, I wanted those things. And now I've chosen this city upbringing for my children. I've started agonising over this decision. We live in a city of half a million residents. We live near a very busy road. We worry about 'predatory strangers'. We live near green spaces but they're not our own. Is is right my children won't have the freedom I did? The glory of nature that I did? I'm torn.


  1. It's so funny you posting this. I'm a born and bred city girl and I'd live in the country in a heartbeat. Where I live just now is the closest I've managed to get to that because we simply don't earn enough to buy the kind of place we'd need. I just don't think there's a right or wrong answer to this one.

    Aberfoyle is lovely though.

  2. It's tough isn't it? We live where we live because that is where hubby got a job. Don't get me wrong we are very lucky with where we live, park at the bottom of the road, 5 mins from countryside. But now our son is growing up we want a different life - like you the freedom of our childhoods. But like Vonnie it seems financially out of reach. Unless you want to be in the middle of nowhere that is. But, I like the mod cons of having the shops etc. near by so no easy solution lol

  3. I could more or less have written this post. I moved around a lot when I was small but we tended to live either near a beach or in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by fields and stuff. The main thing was that we always had a huge garden to play in.

    Now I'm bringing my kids up in an urban area, living in a small flat with no garden. Luckily there is a huge park up the road but, at six years old, I wouldn't let Devin go up there alone, which is a real shame. I feel that my kids are missing out on so much and would love to move to somewhere a little more rural. I'd miss the convenience of living where I do, but I can drive so it isn't a huge problem for me. Unfortunately, hubby can't drive and is massively against the idea.

  4. Moving from London back to the country where I grew up was the best thing we did when Tom was 9 months old. Huge upheaval and emotionally hard, but I wouldn't move back. Just had a weekend away in London which was lovely, but for living in, give me green acres, the sound of cows and big, big skies any day.

  5. Hi there,

    Just reading your post I just had to comment. My DH and I are in throes of creating a master plan. To move somewhere more "green" and near to the sea.

    My DH grew up in a Northern seaside town for a large chunk of his childhood. And has always yearned to live near the sea again. Myself I grew up in I suppose a suburb. It wasnt rural as such, but it wasnt near a town or city centre. But we did (at the time) have fields and trees??!!! I have since as a child yearned to live in the countryside. In my teens and twenties when i left home lik most youngsters I wanted the convenience of living near action and nightlife etc. When I met DH and we brought our house we were still young enough to still want that convenient lifestyle.

    11 yrs and two children later. We dont and now we are determined to make a major move in the next few years to somewhere where (hopefully) we can have the best of both worlds. But as I dont drive we still so have to be practical.

    I dont think there are any right ways. One thing I have said to my DH is if we do move somewhere quieter. To still make sure our girls have a taste of city life. As i would hate them to grow up, and hurry off to the exciting thrill of city life without a clue of what it could be like.

    Sorry bit of a long comment. Love your blog though, it always makes me smile. And your clothes you make are amazing.


  6. Hmmm, this is difficult. I think we have the best of both worlds, as we live in a 'hamlet' in between one small town and one slightly larger town. We are on the bus route to Manchester (takes about 50 mins), but we're within 15 minutes walk of proper countryside. I would love to live in the middle of nowhere, but don't feel it would be fair on Munchkin once she got to her teens. Plus I love having access to all the advantages of a city like Manchester - galleries, theatre, museums, decent shops and places to eat.
    Maybe when we retire we'll get some weeny place in the wild Lancashire hills with no neighbours for miles :)

  7. I'm a country mouse, but my children grew up in towns. They aren't small long - but when they reach the age when they want to be out and about public transport is oh so necessary. my kids learnt to be safe and to get out and about on the train - not so easy in the country. and of course it meant my taxi duties were reduced!