Rural idyll or urban thrills ? It ’ s the great divide . We are all looking for different things in that place we call home . We get views from opposing sides of the fence as town and country do battle for our affections
“ NOT A WELLY IN SIGHT !” Linda Lee kissed goodbye to a charming two-bedroom thatched cottage – with roses round the door – in Nether Compton , a small village in Dorset , to say hello to a 1980s block of flats in Wanstead , east London . And , she says , life couldn ’ t be sweeter .
Most people think that you should retire to the countryside , but after 15 years I hadn ’ t settled in . Village life can be cliquey . When my eyesight failed I gave up my car , which made shopping impossible . You have to walk two miles if you run out of milk ! I found it lonely , and missed the bright lights and social life of London . And my daughter and three grandchildren too , of course .
I used to see them only on high days and holidays , but now I see them every week . The 308 bus takes me right to their door ! The Freedom Pass is pivotal to happiness here . You can travel all over the city for free . I took myself to Harrods the other day just for a bit of glamour . There wasn ’ t a welly in sight ! Delightful . I love to go to the cinema , theatre and explore the South Bank . And I ’ m so central friends I haven ’ t seen for years can come to visit .
often people-watching for hours . Lockdown has been a tough time to move , but it ’ s still been the best move I ever made . That ’ s not to say I don ’ t miss my hairdresser . Just glad to say goodbye to the noise of the hedge trimmer !
“ WE STILL FEEL LIKE WE ’ RE ON HOLIDAY ” Leigh Montague and her family moved from Ealing , west London to Amberley , a village near Stroud in the south Cotswolds , three years ago . With three pubs but no shop , it ’ s a big change …
A few years ago I would have said home is the home you make , how it looks . I had a much more materialistic view . You ’ d see friends getting a loft conversion and think , “ I need one ”. But is that really what your family needs ? I realised what I wanted was to step outside , breathe fresh air and have space for my boys to ride their bikes near the house . So we traded in our five-bedroom Victorian semidetached in London for a three-bedroom 1960s bungalow in Amberley . Now , we have a huge open-plan living area that looks directly out over the Woodchester Valley . And we have the design studio for our childrenswear business right next door . It ’ s been life-changing .
One of the big things is the space . And not just in terms of our house , but in terms of nature . Being able to see the skies and the weather changing is incredible . Three years on and we still feel like we ’ re on holiday – every day . We felt so privileged to be here during lockdown . We wouldn ’ t have wanted to be anywhere else . That ’ s when you really know you ’ ve found your true home , that you love where you live .
Shop Leigh ’ s timeless childrenswear at montyandco . com
Still undecided ? Our furniture suits life in the city and the countryside , so it can move with you , wherever you go .
Photography ( top ): Benjamin Edwards