One thing that we have learned since leaving The Hermitage nearly two years ago now is that you never stop learning. When we decided that we could no longer stay in such a remote spot (or, to be more accurate, when I decided that I could not since it was really my decisions and Marcia went along with it out of consideration for my advancing years) we decided we needed easy access to shops and other facilities.
For a few months it was wonderful to be released from the tyranny of long-distance shopping. I call it 'tyranny' because that is really what it becomes: the need to make sure that you forget nothing and that means keeping an accurate record of what you have used, making sure the shopping list reflects that record and that the shopping reflects that list. It is rather like setting off on a boat for a long voyage - if you forget something then you have to live without it. Living in a village removes all that, we could be down to the shop and back with a packet of butter in less than four minutes. We called this ‘lastminute.com’ shopping after the travel website of that name.
With these thoughts in mind, we started to look for a house to buy (you will remember that we were lucky enough to be able to rent a property from one of Marcia's old friends for "as long as you want it"). We decided that we wanted our 'local town' to be Totnes and that is the only one of the decisions that we took then to which we have adhered: Totnes is probably the place at which we both feel most at home and we know more people who live in or nearby than anywhere else. So, we created a search area covering a five mile radius around Totnes and kept an eye on all the local estate agents seeking that perfect property.
We couldn't find one. The months went by and we widened our search area but still with no success. We hate raising hopes so every house we thought might be the answer was subjected to an 'outside recce' before we took matters any further. These soon made us realise that the new search area was now too big. What is the point in recreating the wheel by buying a house that is too far from your local town - and especially so if it does not have the remoteness, outlook and tranquility of The Hermitage? Right, better to give the tenants notice and go back but we knew that was not really an option.
|We have really missed seeing stock in the fields so it was very good to see this lot who had been turned out for the first time this year yesterday.|
At this point we took the decision to live IN Totnes. We even got so far as to view a couple of properties. Then we started to learn. Basically we are both very rural people who feel badly deprived if we do not have that connection with the natural world which centres us. It was this connection that we were missing living in the village but it took us over a year to realise this simple fact. This posed a problem and then, quite suddenly, we were presented with an answer.
We discovered, quite by chance and thanks to Marcia's sister, that you could rent properties from the Dartington Hall Trust. Bingo. The estate had a couple of properties available and we were offered one. Once again we have a field the other side of the garden hedge and another field the other side of the lane but it is less than two miles from Totnes and we have direct access to some of the most wonderful gardens in the UK. True, the nearest shop is in Dartington village - and it is a truly excellent one - and so we have lost ‘lastminute.com’ but now we know that is not as important as we thought it was two years ago.
|Just a field away is the River Dart and, on the other bank, a preservation railway. How much fun is that?|
So we have learned a vital lesson - be true to yourselves. You are what you are and denying that leads to a lesser life. We, being very lucky, have a choice and can live a life that accords well with our characters. Sadly, so many people do not have that choice.
|Meet Bono: there is something so regal about a Golden Retriever/|