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A Country Childhood: Growing up in rural Suffolk*

countryside living growing up rural childhood

Growing up is a topic that I've tackled on my blog several times in the past. One of my first ever blog posts (which I cringe a little bit at now) shared my experience of growing up as the home schooled kid and more recently, I've discussed the topic of growing up online, and whether it really is such a bad thing. Today, however, I am speaking about growing up from a slightly different angle - talking about where I grew up. My family home is located in the East Anglian countryside. To give you some idea of exactly how rural my home is, our closest neighbours are about 3/4 of a mile away and our house never shows up on any sat navs either! I definitely feel that this rural upbringing has shaped me as a person. As with any childhood environment, growing up in a countryside setting has its pros and cons, so this post is dedicated to discussing both in equal measure. Let's start with a few downsides to a country childhood...

It's kind of inconvenient

A lot of basic services are available only for very short times during the day in rural areas. For example, when I first moved to Oxford to start my university career, I was so surprised by the fact that  shops were open for much longer hours. I still remember walking down the street during my first week living in a city and thinking OH MY GOD IT'S AFTER 2PM AND THE POST OFFICE IS STILL OPEN. Yeah, I definitely was much too excited over that.

Your friends never live close to you

As a child, when having your own moped or car wasn't possible, living in the sticks could feel quite isolating. You would constantly have to pester your parents / older relatives for lifts if you wanted to go anywhere or meet up with your friends and organising everything would be a total nightmare. One up side to this was that you really did value days out with your friends when you had the chance to do them, so it's not all bad news!

rural area childhood growing up countryside 

The Internet SUCKS

And phone reception is the same. To this day, when I pop to a local town to visit the supermarket, I simply cannot get a reliable 3G signal. This means that I'm entirely bereft of Internet until I get home again, which is incredibly frustrating when so many messenger services rely on an Internet connection these days. I can't iMessage or use Whatsapp when I'm in town, really annoying when you need to double check exactly which dishwasher detergent your Mum needs from Tesco. When I first moved to Oxford, I was told in a university induction that the Internet was "not the fastest" there and that the University were in the process of improving it, but I remember logging on for the first time and being absolutely amazed at how quickly I could download files! Going home and trying to write a blog post is always an adventure as uploading a single photo to Blogger can take up to ten minutes, *snore*!

There's usually a smell of poo

I grew up on a pig farm. And as you can imagine, in the summer heat, all that animal poop being cleared out on the daily smelled pretty darn bad. The animal manure was also spread on the fields adjacent to our house as a fertilizer, so the stench often got worse. However, you would be amazed by how quickly your sense of smell adapts and after a while, you barely smell it any more!

Transport is always problematic

Public transport in rural Suffolk was pretty bad at the best of times. Buses are supposed to run past the end of my driveway a couple of times a day but a lot of the time, they don't show up at all, or you're waiting HOURS because they've been held up behind a slow-moving tractor or a herd of dairy cows crossing the road. When the weather is bad, it can prove even more difficult to get around. During the recent Beast from the East episode, the drifts of snow were up to 3 feet deep around my home, so hitting the supermarkets to restock was near impossible. Putting together a stash of long-life food in anticipation of bad weather is therefore a great idea if you live rurally, and brands such as Fuel Your Preparation* have plenty of different options available, even for vegetarian and gluten free eaters!

countryside growing up rural farm childhood

But it's not all bad, guys! If you read only the first half of this post, you'd probably think that I had a miserable childhood, but that definitely isn't the case. I absolutely loved growing up in rural East Anglia and looking back on it, I wouldn't have changed it for the world. To pay tribute to the positives of countryside living, here are the perks of growing up in the countryside, based on my experiences:

It is incredibly peaceful...

It is estimated that the rural population of the UK will undergo a 6% increase by the year 2025 as more people relocate to the countryside. And I can see why. Something that I definitely did not appreciate until I moved to a big city was the absence of noise pollution. I love living in Leicester as it does have some lovely open green spaces but even in most of the parks, you still can't get away from the traffic noise in the background. It is so lovely to walk around the green fields and hear nothing but the sound of your own thoughts, accompanied by birdsong. Going for a run in these peaceful surroundings whilst I'm at home makes me feel so rejuvenated, it's one of my favourite ways to recharge my batteries.

... And absolutely beautiful

If the photographs in this picture aren't enough to convince you, the countryside really is a beautiful place to grow up. When you're a child, you definitely don't feel sufficiently grateful for the beauty all around you but now, I appreciate it all the more. East Anglia is full of tiny, picturesque villages and even the cities are lovely. Norwich will always be one of my favourite places for a day out. The lack of light pollution at night time is another wonderful aspect of countryside living. Being able to gaze up at the beautiful stars on a clear evening is a magical experience, something I definitely wouldn't trade.

growing up rural childhood country countryside

It teaches you a lot

Growing up in a rural area certainly teaches you a lot about how the world works, especially important lessons about where your food comes from. As well as the animal side of things, my Dad is also an arable farmer, producing crops such as wheat and barley. Seeing all of the produce being grown in the fields and understanding how your food goes from field to fork were really key lessons that I learned from growing up in the countryside. I certainly feel that this upbringing made me less naïve. I perhaps wasn't as "street smart" as kids growing up in towns and cities but that doesn't make this form of education any less valuable.

Would I move back?

When I tell people about my countryside upbringing, the question that I'm usually asked without fail is "Would you ever move back?".  Truth be told, although I remember my childhood very fondly indeed, after five years of living in relatively large cities, I'm not sure that I would fancy living quite so rurally again in the future.  I could definitely see myself living in a small village on the outskirts of a larger city, where the pace of life is a little slower but where I can still retain the convenience of urban living. There is certainly a lot to love about the countryside but finding a happy middle ground between town and country is definitely my aim!

Are you a country bumpkin or a city slicker? Tell me about where you grew up in the comments below!

Until next time,

A x

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*This post was sponsored by Fuel My Preparation.