This week we’ve been staying in my dad’s farmhouse in Lancashire.
With its antique Aga and long winding driveway, we were very much looking forward to spending a few days away from it all.
I’ve always fancied myself as a country girl, going on a long walk on a crisp fresh morning and keeping chickens and pygmy goats. The view from my lounge at home is just the houses on the opposite side of the road so to open the curtains to fields, trees and sheep, all overlooked by Pendle Hill every morning was a fantastic novelty.
But there are some things I didn’t reckon on when I arrived.
1. The dark
You don’t know what dark is until you’re in the middle of a field in the dead of night. Walked down a ginnel in the centre of town and been a bit nervous? That’s nowt compared to countryside dark. You literally need a torch to get something from the car, which is parked outside the door.
2. The lack of amenities
This has been the biggest surprise to me. You can’t walk to a shop from a remote cottage just because you fancy a chocolate bar. The shop is a 10 minute drive away (though the pub is closer) and you need to have ninja organisation skills to ensure you have everything you need if you don’t want to leave the house for a day. Even then, village shops are only stocked with essential items for emergency purchases and are priced accordingly. I quickly learned to stock up at the supermarket, though even those are small branches.
In winter I think I’d stock up on cupboard foods just in case it’s too cold to venture out!
3. The need to plan everything
You can’t just nip into town for the cinema. Our cinema is 10 minutes drive away from home, and we have 2 to choose from. Here, the local cinema is over half an hour away and requires careful planning in order to get there on time.
What time is the showing?
Will the dog need feeding while we’re out?
Do we need to get something for tea on the way home, because the shop will be closing…
It’s like a day out.
Likewise for local events. Where I live there is always something going on. I can be in Manchester within half an hour so impromptu nights out would never be a problem. Here, events are held in the Village Hall and are generally regarded as A Big Deal since they’re few and far between.
Also on the subject of planning…
4. The heating
You’re either freezing cold or boiling hot when you’ve only an Aga and an open fire as heat sources. There is actually central heating here but it runs on oil (as does the Aga) and oil is expensive, so I don’t want to use it!
Today, for example, we came home from a soft play centre (2hrs in the actual centre, 3.5 hours out of the house) and it was freezing. So Ted made a fire. After a few minutes the kids were playing outside, Ted was in the office upstairs and I fancied a nice hot bath but there was no way I was wasting three logs and some coal, so the bath had to wait!
5. The Aga
That’s how many meals I ruined before I got the hang of the Aga. Basically, for those of you that don’t know, the top oven cooks things at lightening speed and the bottom oven takes weeks to warm things through (This may be slightly inaccurate).
On the up side, I can confirm that leaving cajun potato wedges in the top oven of an Aga for 12 hours will give you some fantastic firelighting material.