I spent the most wonderful 3 days at the beginning of March 2017 in a little village outside Skipton, West Yorkshire, called Coniston Cold. Despite attending primary school in Royton, Manchester, I’d never made a single foray ‘over the border’ before – although my Mancunian Auntie used to say that Yorkshire had much better water than Lancashire! Hope this statement doesn’t start another ‘War of the Roses’.
I've lived in Worthing, West Sussex on the South Coast for 24 years. Sussex has its fair share of villages which have their own character, and fiercely proud residents.
The Yorkshire Dales and the Sussex Downs are quite different in look, feel, and topography. Dry stone walls or hedges delineate fields of sheep and cows - they are both enchanting places to live and relax, although I think maybe we have better weather on the South Coast (it rained nearly all the time I was in Coniston Cold)!
Coniston Cold is in striking distance of Skipton, Ripon, Harrogate, Bradford, Leeds, Keighley, Haworth and numerous National Trust destinations – all delightful in various ways.
Worthing, is a short (but sometimes time-consuming) drive away from Arundel, Chichester, Brighton & Hove, Horsham, and Gatwick Airport. I love the sea in all seasons, and it’s no wonder that two of my children are active in water-sports.
My husband was born and bred in a little village called Rottingdean, just outside Brighton in East Sussex, and can trace his family’s history back 400 years in the area. I’m not sure I’m as ‘blue-blooded’ as he is - my ancestors and family have moved throughout the UK, taking in Scotland, Wales and England.
We’ve often spoken about moving to a village which brought me round to thinking about the advantages of Village Living, whether that be in West, Mid or East Sussex or West, East, North or South Yorkshire – so here goes (I’m open to other suggestions …)
The Plusses …
1. Getting to know your village neighbours – you may not know everyone by name, but faces become familiar, from regularly bumping into them in the local shop. This could mean the start of new friendships;
2. If you are in the vicinity of a large town, you have the advantages of two places for the price of one
3. Peace and tranquillity, maybe, when you close your front door – unless you have a heavily used road running through your village. What could be nicer than the sound of cocks crowing, cows mooing, sheep baa-ing – except if you’re woken at dawn!
4. Village pubs are generally a meeting place for the locals – what better way to spend an evening out than being able to walk (leave the car at home!) to your local pub, have home-cooked meals, and a couple of beers.
5. If your village is well established, and provides work locally, you may again be able to walk to work
6. In a commuter village, you may have lots of families who have lived there for generations, with a great knowledge of local history and interesting tales to tell, creating a great sense of community
7. Neighbourly communities can be close and supportive with the potential of lots of people to help each other out – with babysitting, at village fetes, defending the onslaught of developers,
8. Villages are often beautiful and bask in a calming atmosphere, where the pace of the city is left behind
9. Crime levels are generally low – thanks to the Village Bobby (are there any left?)
10. Where I live you can get fresh vegetables and fruit from nearby.
11. Noise levels are generally lower due to less traffic, less people,
12. Village greens are a great place to congregate and parks/open green areas close by are great places for children to run around and get close to nature, build dens, climb trees and walls
13. Villagers with an interest in gardening can supply neighbours with home-grown fruit and vegetables
14. Lighter traffic, bridleways, good pavements, cycle lanes - you and your children may be able to walk or cycle far more than if you lived in a town
Of course, you can’t have advantages without some inconveniences, and I’ve got a list of those too:
The Minuses …
1. If you don’t drive, you may be stuck, unless there is a local village bus (or car share with friendly neighbours)
2. Public transport can be a nightmare if you need to go somewhere specific (bus changes, etc) and can be expensive, or not run at the times you want
3. Travel by Taxi may be expensive
4. Your local shops may not provide the goods and services you really want and a trip to one of the major supermarkets may prove costly (or do they have a delivery service?)
5. What if the local bank or Post Office has closed?
6. Village busy-bodies may make you feel that nothing is sacred – but harmless gossip is sociable and we’ve lost the knack of chatting to pass the time of day
7. Working from home? Does broadband give sufficient upload/download speed
8. Can you get a mobile signal?
9. If you move in from outside the village, how quickly will you be absorbed?
10. What if you fancy a take-away? Where is the nearest Chinese/Fish & Chips/KFC/
11. Is there a gas supply, and what happens if there are power cuts due to stormy weather?
12. If there is no village school and the children have to be driven or bussed into and out of school – do you begin to feel out of touch with what's going on at school?
13. If there’s only one road into and out of the village, if that becomes blocked for any reason, (sheep/cattle crossing, accident, road works) is there the means of a detour to get home.
Before you commit to Village Living, here’s your checklist to make sure you’re making the right move:
How many miles/hours (include travel time) to:
1. Petrol station
2. Service Station
5. Beauty salon (all that fresh air will give you a lovely glow!)
7. Swimming pool / Childrens’ recreation
10. Nursery School / Schools / Colleges
12. Train / bus station
13. Travel to your parents / best friends
Do you hanker after village life - leave a comment and tell me why. Thanks, Heather