Rural living; what my children will never know

Cotswolds, rural living

This was the kind of view I had from my bedroom window when I was growing up. Pic credit below.

I sometimes watch my children playing and feel sad they’ll never experience many of the things I did when growing up. I experienced rural living and the relative freedom of the countryside whereas my kids are living a restrictive, suburban existence.

Needless to say, they regularly get taken out to the park or to the countryside near where we live, but it just isn’t the same. When we’re at home, their existence is largely confined to the house and garden.

suburban living, rural living,

This is more the kind of view my kids get from their bedroom windows. Pic credit below.

It doesn’t help that we live at the top of an incredibly steep hill. Why is this such an issue? Well, have you ever tried playing with a football or tennis ball at the top of a steep hill? That ball is only going in one direction.

It also rules out playing on anything with wheels as there’s a very genuine risk it would result in a trip to hospital. Every time the scooters or bikes come out, we have to jump in the car and drive somewhere flat.

This was all foreign to me when I was growing up. We were blessed with an enormous garden. It was one big adventure playground and when that wasn’t enough, well there were fields, springs, streams, trees and so on to explore.

From a very young age I was allowed out on the quiet country roads with my bike and I would travel some distance. There was never an issue if a local farmer caught me on his land because they knew I was simply playing and exploring (the concept of trespassing taking on an entirely different meaning in the rural communities).

Not, you’ll understand, that life was all reminiscent of Swallows and Amazons. My friends and I got up to some crazy stuff that I wouldn’t allow my kids to do, even if we did live out in the country. We played on frozen ponds and we sailed down rivers with no grown-ups watching over us. As for the air rifles we were all armed with, well, I’m not going to tell you what we did with them!

It was also a very tough existence as a teenager. At that age, I struggled with rural life in a very big way. I was desperate to escape it and my behaviour suffered accordingly.

Luckily my parents live on a semi-working farm and so my two get some exposure to the countryside. Even so, it’s just not enough for my liking. I just wish they had the freedom to run, explore and roam without having to worry about busy roads and any of the other risks that come with living on the fringes of a large city.

Pic credits: Top image by W.Lloyd MacKenzie, reporoduced under Creative Commons 3.0 agreement. Second image by David Martin, reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0 agreement. For links ot both agreements, please visit my disclosure page.

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13 Comments

  1. January 19, 2015 / 4:20 am

    You said that you struggled with rural life as a teen. Would that be something that would put you off moving to the country with your kids (if that was something you’d indeed consider doing)?

    • John Adams
      Author
      January 19, 2015 / 10:55 am

      Ha ha, that’s quite a question. In fact I think there’s a second blog post in that. For SE England, you probably couldn’t have got any more rural than where we lived. I grew up mostly in two different hamlets with almost identical challenges in both places; two miles from the closest shop, no bus service, no railway, school was four miles away, no people of a similar age living locally. Would I want my kids growing up somewhere quite so isolated, be it now or in their teens? No, absolutely not. It had amazing benefits, but I would opt for somewhere with more life, especially once their gae hits double figures. If there aren’t opporunities and possibilities for excitement and fun on hand, teenagers make up their own and isn’t always pretty. I can think of villages near where I grew up that had train stations or even regular bus services and this would have made all the difference in those thrill-seeking teenaged years. As I say though, I may write something more lengthy in a future blog post.

      • January 20, 2015 / 2:47 pm

        Please do. We’re considering leaving south London (a place that I wouldn’t want my future teenage boys growing up in) to live in a less built-up area. A coastal location in East Anglia is on the cards, and although we would not be moving to a hamlet, everywhere would be more rural in comparison to where we currently live. Your reply has actually helped me greatly. We would never be somewhere with no shops, no buses and no trains. Essentially we would always choose a town location, even if it was a small town. Keep me posted if you ever do a follow-up blog post on that one.

  2. January 19, 2015 / 11:24 am

    There is something amazing about the freedom of the countryside for kids, but as you say it does bring it’s own challenges, particularly for teenagers who are isolated from their friends. We live in a ‘semi-rural’ location and it’s brilliant – it is a village surrounded by trees, but there is a retail park or two three quarters of a mile away (so no need for a village shop!) and the town is just over two miles away. There aren’t many kids living in the village as the house prices are a bit high, so the kids have to travel to see their friends, but not too far. I also know the kids are safe when they play out and can safely kick a ball or ride a bike around.

    • John Adams
      Author
      January 22, 2015 / 6:34 am

      I think semi-rural may be the way forward. It would bemy ideal environment I think.

  3. January 19, 2015 / 12:32 pm

    I say move to the back of beyond for the next 5 years. Let your kids explore the magic. Contrary to popular belief, we do have electrickery and running water. The burbs will will wait for their teenage angst. 🙂

    • John Adams
      Author
      January 22, 2015 / 6:32 am

      You actually raise a very interesting point here. People write the ocuntryside off as backward when that’s far from the truth. Every kid is different, I know many thrived in the countryside as teenagers but I fear I wasn’t one of them. And yet here I am (…more than) 20 years later desperate to return!

  4. January 20, 2015 / 3:07 pm

    Interesting post.

    I grew up in the burbs – I had a relative amount of freedom, I recall riding on my bike far and wide! But I too, found it boring as a teenager, and there were limited places for me to hang out that met my parents approval.

    I am bringing up my kids in greater London, and that too has its challenges.

    I wonder what is the happy medium?!

    • John Adams
      Author
      January 22, 2015 / 6:30 am

      Yes, what is the happy medium? I’m not sure there is one. Even though I wasn’t hugely happy in the ocuntryside as a teenager, I’d rather that than a run down city environment. That would have been much, much worse.

  5. February 5, 2015 / 9:30 pm

    This is a great topic, that affects any family needing to move to manage their growing family size (which I imagine is most at one stage or another). I’m from a small rural market town originally and have always felt most comfortable with that sort of community (I did have friends who lived in isolated hamlets who found it deathly dull). My wife on the other hand is a Londoner through-and-through and likes the city buzz and having the museums handy. Our respective requirements for countryside still on the tube network gave us a very limited overlapping Venn diagram, and that’s where we’ve recently ended up. It’s a pricey area but the town covers all the essentials, has low crime and loads for children of all ages. It’s all a balance but hopefully one that’ll work out for us.

  6. David
    June 16, 2015 / 6:41 am

    Interesting article and one that has hit a note with me.

    We currently live in a brilliant town with our 2 girls, 4yrs and 20mths. However due to jobs we are moving to the Edinburgh area. Our budget doesn’t get us amazing things in the nice areas of Edinburgh so rather than accept an ok school and rough surrounding neighbourhood, we are looking at a rural property.

    It is only 8 miles from the centre of Edinburgh and 1 mile from the main village. It has 3 other neighboring properties. I love it and it would be great for the girls at this age. The primary is 1 mile away but no route for walking so we would have to drive (that’s not a problem).

    However as others have said their friends will likely be in the village, or surrounding villages and so would need driving everywhere. As they get older I don’t know if that would be an issue.

    My wife grew up in the centre of Edinburgh and as a child had no friends as there were none round about. As a teenager though it was heaven for her.

    I suppose there’s nothing stopping anyone moving at a later date but it is a quandary at this stage!

    • John Adams
      Author
      June 16, 2015 / 7:49 pm

      I feel your quandry! It is quite difficult knowing what to do but I predict you will end up doing alot of driving. Best of luck with the move.