Thursday, 27 October 2011

What Have the Romans (Towns) Ever Done for Us?

Countryside Living or Town Living?

Hi people in Internet Land (T’web and Tinternet for our northern surfers). Good old (not old) Frugaldom, very kindly asked me to write a guest blog. I am incredibly honoured:

“Ta, Very much”.

Any road, I am the author of a book about baling string: Archie Sparrows Book of Useful Tips to Beat the Recession ....with Baling String. It’s supposed to make you laugh and forget your troubles for a while. The book is also a parody about living on a smallholding with very little money and lots of baling string.

Eh? Me telling you that it’s a parody? I am defeating the whole idea that it’s a parody! Aren’t I? You will have to get the book instead of me insulting your intelligence! It’s true though, all fiction is based on fact.

Frugaldom asked me to write about my experiences and thoughts of moving from a town to rural life. Hoping that you all might share your thoughts?

There’s a scene in one of my favourite films: The Life of Brian. It goes something like this:

“All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the freshwater system and public health. What have the Romans ever done for us?”

I would replace the word ‘Romans’ with ‘Towns’. Ten years ago I moved from the edge of a city to live in a beautiful rural place next to the sea in Southern Ireland. We live on a smallholding and it’s incredibly peaceful and it’s like living in an oil painting.

“Can somebody move that Hay-Wain from out of the water please?”

I had never heard of Rural Isolation before I came here. We have no pub, no jobs, no public transport, shops or even milk - although we live near lots of dairy farms.

I know I am incredibly lucky to live in the countryside. I can grow my own vegetables and ‘try’ to farm our 16 acres of a few cattle, sheep, pigs, hens, ducks, Jack Russell and a few rats and mice (can I claim for the rodents on my Single Payment form?) and spiders..!

Saying that, Frugaldom readers, it would be great to see a band or have a community centre, kebab house, allotments, bar, car boot sale or even watch a football match...?

I have heard (Googled) that eighty percent of people in the UK live in urban areas. Also forty percent of the people who move to the countryside return to the towns. Is the countryside really worth living in? Do you have to be a commuter or ‘weekender’, or just be rich to have any quality of life, living in the countryside? Will the small farm have to encourage tourism instead of farming?

Why is there no infrastructure in rural areas? Do you think there should be street lights, ‘model' green villages or ‘affordable’ and social housing....?

I look forward to your comments.

Thanks Frugaldom!
Guest blog by Dave Dealy
NYK Media


  1. Thanks for the guest blog, Dave, it has done well to serve as a massive indicator of the differences between born & bred ruralites and 'toonies' who buy a house in the country or go in search of the good life. LOL

    I'm afraid that even the suggestion of street lighting in rural lanes is preposterous to me - leave our dark sky alone, we don't want all that light polution. And as for a concert, pub, club, shop or whatever, move closer to the village?

    The solitude and seclusion of rural living may not be for everyone, but it needn't be like that. Having spent the majority of my life on farms or in rural properties (even a fairly remote island) it has been far from quiet. There's always someone to chat to, and most times it turns out to be your friend's uncle's cousin's bit-on-the-side's son to her third husband, whose sister happened to have been in your class at secondary school, or something along those lines. LOL

    In saying that, we do tend to talk a lot, so it probably reflects the fact that we aren't surrounded by real people all the time.

    I had a quick read at the book 'Middle Aged Downshifters'. I'd prefer to make no comment here.

  2. Thanks again for letting me do a guest blog. I have not got many comments yet. But we were brought up to read newspapers not comment weren't we? Anyway thanks for kicking off a hopefully lively debate.

    I can only talk from my own experience; most main roads carry overhead electricity cables. Surely they could place a light here and there for pedestrians to walk to town and to prevent the road-kill genocide.

    Only yesterday. The Irish gov't decreased the alcohol drivig limit to 50mg - death to rural pubs. They never reduce speed limits or provide public transport or grit the roads do they. Is the car really a 'neccessary evil?' If you don't drive or can't afford a taxi, you have to suffer!

    I couldn't move to the town. It would mean selling my grandparents farm. I farm for sentiment only! Is it not the case that a lot (not all)of the country people don't want change?

    I have more contact through email to your site and my friend in Poland..., than I do with my neighbours. But then again I wasn't born here was I?

    Let's get rid of the car and start talking again!

  3. Thanks for letting me guest blog. I have always lived on the outskirts of the countryside, near lanes with lights and country pubs in England.

    Here in Ireland we have no public transport or lanes with lights for several miles. You can't walk along the main roads because they won't provide pavements or the occasional light from the overhead cables. The speed limits are also crazy and there's always Road-kill.

    I couldn't sell my grandparents farm - I farm only for sentiment!

    Country people will accept the car and the tractor. What's wrong with some jobs, affordable housing, buses, pubs and a few shops?

  4. As the population grows, so too will the cities spread out to the towns, which will then spread into the villages into the hamlets and the hamlets and into the farmlands. For many, the solitude, peace and quiet is what they prefer.

    Personally, I'd hate to live anywhere near a pub and prefer to think that by working from home, I am working for the local economy, even if the nearest village is 3 miles from here.

    Of course, I do have neighbours, so there's always someone to chat to in the passing and everyone knows everyone else's business. :)

  5. It sounds like you live in a really nice place. I live in a very peaceful place but people don't seem to have time to talk. They just wave and drive off to the towns and cities for employment. Like yourself I don't have a mortgage. Also I don't go to the local mass so I never know what's going on. One other important factor: I wasn't born here! The countryside seems to be home for a few farmers, 'dormitory housing, 'weekenders' and holiday homes. This means that the kids get educated and move to the city because there are no jobs.

  6. The people you're referring to don't sound like 'born and bred farmers', Dave.

    Here, I could probably go out and find myself work within a day or so of trying. At one stage, I had 3 extra part-time jobs, for the exact same reasons you are stating. It's the same for many locals.

    Many rural areas are full of rich incomers, commuters, downshifters, retirees, second-home owners, holidaymakers etc, none of them want minimum wage from small, local employers.

    These people have helped price local families out of the housing market, but are now stuck. Nobody can afford to buy their extortionate (second) homes and many can no longer afford to take the losses and return to their native towns.

    It's not the actual house prices that are the trouble - let's face it, they are tumbling all around us by as much as 50% here - it's the high percentage of income that's needed in order to travel to and from minimum wage jobs, couploed with the lack of choice and higher prices of things like food, fuel, utilities and service. Affordable housing thrown up everywhere wouldn't work because we don't have the economic structure to support all the families. Small rural economies DEPEND on farming and local businesses.

    My belief is that it's all in the attitude you adopt. There are two types of 'incomers' I cannot stand:

    1) Those who move to the country (or small rural town), gripe about lack of facilities, form their own 'social' activity groups then try to take over.

    2) The downshifters and dreamers who think they'd like to try self-sufficiency after reading a couple of books, then in some whimsical notion that includes words and phrases like 'organic', 'freerange' and 'the good life', they wittlessly inflict pain and suffering on their animals because they simply haven't got a clue.

    Agreed, I can think of many born and bred farmers who need a jolly good boot up the backside to remind them who and what they represent, but at least they are governed by legislation.

    The times are changing, attitudes are changing, suburbia is spreading at an alarming rate - if you dislike the solitude, consider sharing your space with like-minded others. Options aplenty if you have a the will and own your own land. If you aren't close friends with the neighbourhood, why bother whose feathers you ruffle?

    My long-winded point is:

    When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

    If you don't like what the Romans do, get out of Rome.

  7. Wow! You throw up a myriad of questions and issues and answers to rural life. You're certainly not looking at the countryside through rose tinted spectacles are you?

    I some times feel like the lad in the film Shadowlands, who looks in the wardrobe and can't find Narnia, just old fur coats. Everywhere I look around my grandparents farm I see them and the horse and cart and hay stacks... Perhaps I'm just a sentimental old fool?

    I find country people around me indifferent. They will wave and let me buy cattle or hay off them. But they won't call or take us for a drink. There's nothing wrong with them. Perhaps they just don't like outsiders with different views? I have no time for religious differences or even racial one's. If people are OK with me,I am OK with them. I suppose you can take a person out of a town. But you can't take the town out of the person!


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