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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bringing the countryside to the city!

Notes From The Frugal Trenches

For those that don't know I live in London, England. London is a fabulous city with amazing galleries, museums and buildings to explore. There are tourist attractions aplenty and some pretty nice parks. Those same nice parks get pretty crowded at the weekends, filled with tourists from afar and in truth they rarely satisfied my need for open space. Over the last six months I've come to feel suffocated by the people and noise so I decided I needed to find a way to get more of the countryside into my city life and I came up with & tried some of the following strategies

1.Try at least once a week to get to one of the city's great parks before the tourists arrived. This often meant getting up early, which took some adjusting, but oh so worth it in the end!

2. Find out about city farms local to me. Many of them are small and rely on fundraising and volunteers to function, this means they are usually eager to find helpers! What a great way to feel like you're living the rural life - certainly being surrounded by pigs & chickens made me forget I was in the city!

3. Become a dog walker at an animal shelter - what a brilliant way to give back, help animals in need, get some exercise and see grass instead of concrete!

4. Participate in an outdoor exercise group - I found this so much more rewarding then simply walking on a treadmill!

5. Buy or rent a bicycle - concrete often looks more appealing when cycling instead of sitting on a bus or tube/subway!

6. Take up a new hobby - often cities have canoe clubs, running groups and other great activities.

7. Try to escape the city at least once a month! I joined an association here in the UK where you can stay at no frills hostels (including family friendly ones) for about £15/$30 a night (some even less!). This means I can take advantage of cheap train deals and escape for a night or two regularly!

8. Plan that yearly holiday - I'm really becoming a person who craves simplicity. On the whole I'd now rather rent a little cottage by the sea or in the countryside. As long as I have countryside to roam and hills to climb I'm pretty happy!

9. Plant a garden - if you don't have a garden get some indoor plants or window plants. Even with no outside space you can grow herbs!

10. Join your works social committee or away day team - often this means you get a say in where work events are held and you can suggest and encourage outdoor pursuits!

None of these allowed me to accomplish my dream of having a little cottage in the English countryside with my rescue cats and rabbits, but it did let me feel a bit of peace and simplicity in a very hectic and busy world!


rhonda jean said...

I love this post. It shows clearly how to get to a good mental space while having to wait for major moves to happen. I hope you get your country cottage. I think you'll make a wonderful home for humans, cats and rabbits.

Winterwood said...

I'm originally from Slough - UK but now live in OZ. Loved London - going there to shop and college, but yes it can become exhausting and over stimulating, to live there all the time.

Green Bean said...

Great ideas for those of us who yearn for the country life - but are sandwiched in the cities.

dragonsue said...

What I hate about living in London, is that no matter where you go, you can't get away from the noise and smell of the traffic, though having an allotment does help it fade in to the back ground a bit, what with the lovely bird song and the buzz of the bees.

Melinda said...

I hear you completely! The other things I'm doing are: volunteer for invasive species removal and native planting work parties; visit community gardens and talk with gardeners there; visit local botanical gardens and conservatories; have a picnic in the park for lunch; go for a walk along the beach or around the lake; and even take a slow walk through the neighborhood, watching the fall leaves float to the ground, the squirrels gather nuts, the migrating birds searching for seeds....

Frugal Trenches said...

It's interesting to see that others feel how I do, I call it (the city) the ultimate love/hate relationship!

Melinda those are great suggestions!

P~ said...

FT~ I loved this post. I spent some time living in London while attending the University of London for a time and fell in love with the city. I do think it would drive me nuts now, to be so hemmed in, but the parks... ooohh the parks, I loved them. I lived near Russel Sq, and would walk to Regents park to enjoy sitting by the pond... Good times.
Thanks for your perspective and for a little flash of memory.

Sharon J said...

I'm totally with you on this, FT. I honestly believe that our souls need the countryside and wide open spaces and that we need to do what we can to fulfil that need otherwise we'll never feel truly contented.

I must look into that hostel thing. I'd love to be able to get away more often but hotels and guesthouses are too expensive to use as often as I'd like and camping isn't really on the cards anymore (sadly because that's one thing I really loved).

Kate in NY said...

Great post - your good attitude is inspiring! Ironically, I have an almost reverse situation. We left New York City 5 years ago because we couldn't afford proper space/schooling there for our 4 kids. Now we live an hour outside the city, in a very bucolic, country-like suburb, and I have a couple of acres and a few dogs,cats and bunnies . . . and yet I yearn for the city big time! I'm just more of a city gal - I love the hustle and bustle, the diversity, the great ethnic restaurants and cultural possibilities. But it will be years before we can move back, so I do what you do - I try to bring the kids into the city weekly for a museum trip or a walk in Central Park. We are even thinking of switching houses this summer with a city family who yearns for country life! There are so many ways to get creative about seeking out our dreams in frugal and realistic ways!


Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Great ideas. I'm so lucky to live on an acre and a half very close to real country. I believe deeply that everyone needs this closeness to the natural world - just for sanity! You have wonderful ideas on how to do this.