There aren’t many times I wish I had a chic little pad in the city but yesterday, on my way back from a 16 hour day of meetings and events, stuck for 4 hours in traffic was definitely one of them. The truth is I love being in London. At times I’m there 2-3 times a week and always leave buzzing with ideas, full of inspiration and fulfilled that I met some amazing new people. But while I very much associate London with work, home has always been the countryside.
Suffolk, to be exact and it always has been. Growing up surrounded by rolling fields, peaceful brooks and views that could be straight out of a Jane Austen novel is something I never took for granted. My friends always called me the country bumpkin and it was because I was always happiest surrounded by the calm of the countryside. Through the stress of exams, extreme heartbreak and tough decisions about my future, the vast open spaces and stillness of the valley balanced out my whirring brain and gave me the clarity I could never find in a busy, fast-paced city.
THE LONDON LIFE
I lived on the outskirts of London when I went to uni and loved every second…more or less! Although I found it difficult to leave the familiarity of home, the possibility of breaking out of my comfort zone and pursuing a career I’d dreamt of since I was 6 years old was too good to pass up. Although I didn’t become the editor of Vogue (I had big goals, OK?!) London taught me more about myself in those two years than ever before. I realised the importance of pushing myself, doing things that terrify me to move forward and being a total self starter to get where I want to be. I’ve made friends for life, know exactly where to go for the best Italian in the city and where to avoid during half term! There were days (and still are!) where that city kicked my arse and I grew a thicker skin because of it.
But I always came home. More than my friends and my peers and I wasn’t sorry about it. Looking back I wish I had stayed and immersed myself in the London life a little more but that corner of the county was my escapism and a place to come back down to earth, gain perspective and go back with a fresh head. So it wasn’t surprising that I moved home after I graduated. Do I wish I’d stayed? Yes. I think I had another year or two of city life left in me to make the most of my youth and throw myself into a competitive career. But I’m a big believer that everything happens for a reason and there have been a lot of Sliding Doors moments in my life that I try not to dwell on or think ‘what if’ too much. Especially when it’s led me to the life and career I have now.
I spent a year commuting to London in my mid-twenties and found myself resenting the city I’d always had a soft spot for. Sixteen hour days, fighting for train seats and cursing the middle aged suits that arrogantly barged me became the norm and I found myself suffering from anxiety every Sunday evening anticipating that exhausting journey for another five days. So when an opportunity came up at a national magazine in my local town, I jumped at the chance, opting for a better work-life balance over the career I always thought I’d have. But two years into a job that is even better than I could’ve imagined, it goes to show that you don’t have to be in the city to get what you want.
For the most part, London was everything I wanted it to be and more. It was a chapter of my life that was a milestone in the making of who I am today and I still get a surge of love for the city when I see those skyscrapers come into view. It was never home and, although I’ve toyed with the idea every now and again, it never will be. But it has a big part to play in my job whenever I choose and that means I enjoy it all the more. When people ask if I find it difficult going back and forth I tell them that as soon as the fields come into view and the people disperse, my shoulders drop and I feel a happiness I can’t describe.
THE COUNTRY LIFE
Once we sold our house close to the train station, we flirted with the idea of moving closer to the big smoke. We both loved days and night’s in London, taking in a show, a hotel opening here and there and a cheeky spa session at The Corinthia on a typically grey, smoggy day. But the pull of rural life and all it had to offer was too strong. So, we went in the opposite direction, snapped up a quintessentially British countryside cottage and haven’t look back since.
Every doubt and morning commute has been worth it to wake up to frosty dew-topped fields, that dawn fog in the trees on my run and the light dancing around my living room in the afternoon. But it’s the changing seasons that make me so grateful for where I live – I’m forever mesmerised by the changing colours of the leaves, the different feel in the air when a new season is afoot and the sounds of nature getting ready for what’s to come. Suddenly, a night in front of our open fire with a good movie and bottle of red gives me the pangs of excitement that going out used to, and interior magazines have (momentarily) replaced my fashion glossies on my coffee table!
Maybe it’s growing up or perhaps it was always there but there comes a time when there really is no place like home. And when I crave a little hustle, it’s only a train ride away.
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