I was on my favorite train journey (Sheffield-Manchester) on a chilly autumnal morning recently and it got me thinking about just how much I love the British countryside.
And before I knew it, I was putting fingers to keypad (doesn’t quite have the same ring, does it?) and writing this blog.
So, today I want to talk about why the British countryside will always have a special place in my heart, and with that, share with you some of stories about how I grew up.
For starters, there is nothing quite like the still of an early morning in the country. So silent and untouched, it gives me a sense of peace that city centre living can never compare.
And though I love them both for different reasons, I feel a real, deep connection with the British countryside.
It’s where I spent my entire childhood. I remember when I was very young, running along the mile long track to our first home.
Sledging down that same track in the winter with my brother, picking a Christmas tree from those that lined it and playing on the swing in the big, green garden with nothing but fields as far as the eye could see.
We lived in a beautiful little country house that, from the front, looked just how children of my age drew houses – a front door, four windows, all completely symmetrical.
It was surrounded by fields, cows, and greenery and I couldn’t have wished for a better place to spend my early years growing up.
There was just so much space (for activities! Sorry, couldn’t resist), a wendy house in the garden, a swing tied from a tree.
I remember seeing foxes scamper across the garden from the house and one year, our barn became home to a family of beautiful little barn owls. They would be the first of many.
Fast forward a few years and we moved to our second home, where my parents still live now, when I was 7.
Though it was less remote, we were still in the middle of the countryside in a small village surrounded by greenery and (much to my delight) horses!
It was there that I first started horse riding. I had BEGGED my parents for years to let me try and I always wonder how we develop our interests at that age because all I ever remember wanting to do was ride horses.
My parents tried with exasperated enthusiasm to get me into music (they’re both musicians) – but trying to make me practice the piano and violin probably made them age prematurely!
I can only apologise, dear parents, but you should have taken heed from my primary school teacher who once said to you that “Hannah will never do anything that she doesn’t want to do!”
That statement still remains very much true to this day.
Once I started horse-riding at my local stables, I was hooked. I must have spent years of my life there and it’s a time I will always hold so dearly in my heart.
My time there taught me responsibility. It gave me my first job, countless memories and friends, and my first, proper heartbreak when I lost my incredible loan pony to colic when I was 16. It broke my heart 10 times over.
Taking her out into the countryside after school to escape from the pressures of teenage life was, and is still to this day, the truest form of escapism I have ever found.
One that saw me protect myself from the mistakes that my peers made from spending all their time hanging around in town, forging the wrong friendships and spending half their time worrying about boys. Having such a time-consuming hobby kept me out of trouble, for sure.
Nowadays, I find myself missing the countryside dearly. You can probably tell from this nostalgic blog post but recently, I have found the stress of daily life and being relentlessly busy has been getting a bit too overwhelming.
I started to make a conscious effort to make my life less busy. To spend less time online. To rekindle old habits and things that I loved.
Part of this was starting riding again. After some searching, I have found a lady on the outskirts of Sheffield with a horse she needs help riding. I can’t wait to re-start something that for so long hugely defined who I was. Something that was a catalyst to finding so many amazing things in life.
And though I often crave the quiet of the countryside – long walks, quiet, still mornings – deep down I know that now isn’t the time to seek the cosy little country home that I have often said I’d like when I’m older and have children.
I love living in the centre of a lively, bustling city for different reasons and I know it’s where and need, and indeed want to be for this stage of my life.
But you see, I owe the countryside a lot. It acted as the playpen to my early years, a place to seek solace in my teens and now, an old friend, as I navigate my way through my young-adult life.
I even tell you how exciting I am to start spending more time there.
It may be hard to comprehend if you’ve never lived there, but for those who have, you’ll understand me when I say that it is, quite simply, where I feel truly at home.
Good job I’m only 10 minutes drives from the Peak District then 😉
Dress: H&M (shop the identical version on Ebay for half the price here)
Photo Credits: Barton Chase Inc