Thinking of ditching the city lights and moving to the country? Here’s a list of things I wish I had known before leaving the big smoke.
1. Beauty Regimes vs Basic Survival
Forget leg stubble, the beauty dilemma of summer is how to cover up midge bites. One or two can easily be tackled with concealer but when the midges have been munching on you like an extra from The Walking Dead you have a problem. There is no easy solution to covering up so prevention is the cure. Smidge is by far the best midge repellent I’ve found. It doesn’t leave you smelling like bio-hazard and it’s kinder to the skin than DEET-based products. Keep arms and legs covered, avoid humid overcast days and if you do brave the swarm you can wear a midge net or keep flapping your arms about like a ninja – midges don’t like any kind of breeze. Follow the basic midge rules and you will once again be venturing outside in the summer sun.
2. Goodbye Manicure
Short nails are a must. If you are foraging in the forest, paddling in a stream or simply tackling your overgrown garden you will collect all kinds of country nasties under your nails. If you have a wood or coal burning stove, you can bet your bottom kindling dollar that your nails will be black within a week. Keep them short and you will save yourself hours of scrubbing your fingertips raw.
3. Comfort Comes First
I have tried and I can tell you, it is impossible to look sexy in a Marks and Sparks long-sleeve thermal vest. It is also quite a skill bending over in skinny jeans whilst wearing two pairs of leggings and knee high socks. Warmth is a must. Layers, layers and more layers topped off with a good pair (or three) of winter socks is essential if you are to survive the wilds. As well as warmth you also need practical clothes. Fashion wellies are cute but if they don’t have a good grip you are going to be sliding around on your bum more than you would like. Walking shoes, leather gloves with grips and a good all weather walking jacket are essential. Tip – visit outdoor activity/walking retailers at the end of season to bag some bargains.
4. Stock Up On Essentials
Toiletries, tampons, chocolate, batteries, decaf teabags, vitamins, gluten-free pasta – start collecting before you move. When nipping to the shop consists of a two-hour car drive through thick fog, you will be wishing you had bought twenty boxes of Tampax Pearl. Have a cupboard where you store your hard-to-get essentials and keep an eye on stock levels. Don’t wait for your shampoo to run out, check before you make your once-a-month trip to the shopping centre and make a list of anything you have less than two of. Tip – Subscribe to your favourite magazines as country stores often have a very limited supply of only the most common mags.
5. Text No More
Start working on your social media withdrawal. Some rural villages like Kielder have no mobile signal and temperamental internet provision. My iPhone is now an expensive period calendar while Mrs Wifey has ditched hers completely. It’s the perfect excuse to dig out a pen and start writing the old fashioned way. Snail mail is fun and it’s a great way to support your local country post office. Just remember to find out which post boxes are safe and which are harvesting a family of snails before depositing your letter.
Enjoy your new adventure. Most people dream of ditching the rat race and moving to the middle of nowhere. Give yourself a couple of months to settle in and once you have adjusted you will come to love the mud and the midges.