For most of our life together we’ve dreamed of moving into the country with a couple of acres of land. Partly a desire for self-sufficiency and partly just to get away from the sheer pressure of people that living in town presents.
For example, when you live in a semi or even a detached house in the town, the neighbours are not far away so you have to moderate your behaviour. You don’t play records loudly when next door’s kids are in bed – not unless you want a war with next door. You tolerate the dog next door dementedly barking because you don’t want to have a row with the owner.
Here we can play music in the middle of the night if we wanted, although we’re a bit past that now and next door’s dog can bark away if it wants – we can hardly hear it!
Some of the main differences between town and country living have come as a surprise to us though. The striking thing is community. It took nearly a year before we got to know our suburban neighbours but here in the country we already know them by name after just a couple of weeks. There’s a stronger feeling of community here where we are further apart than we’ve ever had in a town.
That sense of community isn’t limited to the hamlet, it applies to the village as well. We don’t have a sparkly new medical centre but we have a doctor in the village with a receptionist who actually smiles and knows who you are by the second visit. I popped in for a repeat prescription and she just handed me the bag with the pills in. No 10 minute queue followed by identity confirming questions. Oh, and prescriptions are free (at the moment) in Wales!
The local shops often have a bit of a queue as the shopkeeper chats to the customers. My feeble attempt at saying thank you in Welsh was followed by 15 minute lesson in Welsh and a chat about how we liked it in the area. Strangely, no one is bothered by a queue in the shop. People seem to have time to live and be polite to each other.
Public transport is a bit thin on the ground to say the least and things you take for granted in the town just don’t exist out here. Before we moved, a couple of times we availed ourselves of a takeaway delivery when we’d been packing until 8 o’clock and felt shattered. No delivery service out here and we’ve 1 Chinese and 1 Indian takeaway in the village with 2 chippies. There were dozens in Crewe.
In the town we had a huge range of shops, well it seems huge now. 5 supermarkets, 3 DIY stores, 4 builders merchants all within a 5 minute drive. Our nearest supermarket is now half an hour away and the DIY is 15 miles off in distant Bangor.
It makes you plan your journey and think ahead. Country living certainly chunks up the miles although we’re getting better at thinking ahead.
The LPG Rip Off
Overall the plus points overwhelm the drawbacks, we’ll never go back but there is one thing that really bugs me. Fuel. In the town you have your gas and electric and just pop online to find the cheapest supplier. Often you get extra discounts if you put both fuels through the same supplier.
Here we have LPG gas so no duel fuel discounts. Worse still, the price of LPG is horrendous and extortionate. We reckon it’s well over double the price of piped gas. Neither is there the freedom to change supplier in the same way as piped gas. They demand 2 year contracts be signed and can vary the price after an initial few months how they see fit. Downwards? Want to bet? Unlike mains gas, they’re not covered by OFGEM – although the competition commission has been looking at the LPG market. The Calor call centre is a example of ignorance and arrogance, beyond that even of the banks!
Oh well, you can’t have perfection, there’d be nothing to moan about!