Every country bumpkin dreams of making it to the big city: 10 years ago, I was one of those bumpkins.
Growing up on a farm in the deep, dark heart of the Somerset countryside, my upbringing was as far removed from the hustle and bustle of London as you might expect.
We lived on a dairy farm. Around 80 cows needed milking, feeding and moving out to pasture – no easy feat for just two people and one grumpy child. If there’s one thing that children do best though, it’s adapt. The first few weeks that I was enlisted into the farming process were tiring, but by the end of them my internal alarm clock had successfully synced with my parents and we became a one-family farming machine. Learning how to get up and go extremely early in the morning, is one of the key life skills that I can thank my parents for.
During the interminable years of my youth, the bright lights of metropolitan London had fascinated me. The towering buildings, the iconic landmarks and the cultures of millions of people, all crammed into a bustling jungle of concrete and light. London was the antithesis of sleepy Somerset and although I’d only visited their once or twice, I knew that it would be the home of my dreams.
In between indulgent day-dreams I saw myself arriving in London.
I would have my own cosy studio apartment. I’d have a faithful dog, like our collie Jess, and I’d spend each morning walking her through the peaceful oasis of Hyde Park before grabbing a coffee from my regular cafe and heading home to change and go to work. I was going to take my practiced country traditions and bring them to the city, effortlessly blending both lifestyles.
A decade later, after studying Graphic Design in sleepy Plymouth, I was finally able to attempt grasping for this lofty dream.
Of course, there’s a reason why, as I sit here writing this, I can hear the birdsong of thrushes uninterrupted by traffic. There’s a reason why I can look out my window and see an unbroken landscape of fields and trees, with rolling hills undulating over the horizon. It turns out the wistful dreams of a teenage farm girl were not only wildly ambitious but also wholly unrealistic.
The first compromise I had to make was on the apartment.
In order to afford to be close to my beloved Hyde Park I had to share an apartment with three other professionals. The second compromise was the dog. It turns out landlords aren’t all that keen on their tenants keeping hairy, energetic dogs, such as collies, in their buildings. The final straw was my morning walk through Hyde Park. In order to make it there, enjoy a nice stroll, make it back via a charming cafe (a Starbucks was the most convenient in the end), shower and change for work – I’d need to get up at 5am.
I wasn’t a farm girl anymore and this wasn’t the life that I had envisioned having. After 1 year of struggling to make a life for myself in the city, I threw it in. I said good bye to my abrasive flat mates, my impersonal Starbucks and the serenity of Hyde Park. I moved back to Somerset, a stone’s throw away from my old home. I took the experience I had as a Creative Consultant in London and I started my own one-woman firm.
I may not be surrounded by the hustle and bustle of a million people here, but I have my dog and I can walk him in a field across the road and not have to wake up before the crack of dawn.