Previous to moving to a sleepy Shropshire village, some ten years ago, I'd had a 5 day week office job with my local council. This meant that most of my Saturdays were spent jumping on a bus (oh the joys of living in a big town or city!) and spending the day at the market or shopping mall. I'd while away the hours in a coffee shop or browse the wares for sale, even though I couldn't actually afford most of them being a single mum to a growing teenage boy at the time! However, these were my ways to relax. I had the freedom to come and go as I pleased.
Sundays were spent alone as my son would be either in bed until midday, out playing football or refereeing a local league match. It was therefore my housework day, cooking later in the afternoon and then relaxing in front of the TV. There were some Sundays spent on trains and buses for a couple of hours to visit mum & dad who lived about 15 miles away. Having never passed my driving test, trains & buses were my mainstay and I took it for granted that they were just at the end of the road!
Oh how it was all to change when I met my 'Shropshire Lad'. When my son reached 18 & had made all his plans to go to university, there was just one thing for me to do. Sell up and move lock, stock and the proverbial barrel to live with my new found 'internet' love. On 19th July 2006 the company van was loaded with my posessions and we made the long journey from Dagenham to Hinstock (a village in North Shropshire). My son decided to stay 'darn sarf'(1) with his mates living out of a suitcase (or rather, holdall) until it was time to go to Uni in Sheffield he then came up to stay with me for the week before his adventure began. But I digress. This is about my move from the smoke to the sticks and all the culture shocks I endured at that time.
I was really looking forward to escaping the hustle & bustle of city life and being able to work from home & choose my own hours. At first I busied myself doing all the country house wifey things, cooking, baking, enjoying the quiet of the countryside. Then it hit me! I was living in an old farmhouse down a country lane a mile from the poorly-stocked village shop and 6 miles from the local town. I couldn't drive and there was no regular bus service except for the schoolkids! I went days, sometimes weeks without seeing anyone except my partner. Luckily, he'd decided to stop working on Sundays, so that we at least went for a drive or to the shops in either Telford or Shrewsbury for the day. I would ring my mum and try to sound happy but I was oh so lonely! Then at the beginning of December, while I was looking after my 13 month old grand daughter, came a call I'd been dreading. My dad, who had been ill for sometime, had taken a turn for the worst & was in hospital. I was advised that I should go. I paced the floor & contacted my partner, who was working at our main depot. We then made a manic journey, grand daughter in the back of the car to the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. The rest of the family were waiting. My heart sank when I saw my mum and then all the guilt rushed in. I had left them and moved over a 100 miles away to persue my own happiness.
By morning, dad was gone and I stayed at mum's to help her with all the arrangements for the funeral washing my clothes at night (I'd not had time to pack!) & wearing them over again for about a week until I felt I could leave her and come home. The loneliness got worse trying to cope with my dad's death & the guilt of leaving mum, but she had told me I had done the right thing, and that I should never feel guilty as long as I was at the end of the phone. I suppose she knew how I felt, having moved to England as a war bride leaving her family in Belgium, except she wasn't at the end of a phone. Perhaps I'll tell her story some time.
A few months later, I'd set up an eBay shop for the family business. It took off big time & I found myself working more hours than I had for the council! I suppose I enjoyed it at first as it kept me occupied and took my mind off my isolation. I started taking driving lessons, only to fail my test 5 times in succession with 4 different examiners and for different things each fail! I gave up! Especially as the last failure had been for speeding!
We moved to our house in the centre of the village in November 2008. Now, the poorly-stocked village shop was only a 3 minute walk away and town just 5 miles. Did this make life easier? I'll tell you all in part 2!
(1) No I don't talk like that! I may be cockney but I like to think my accent is more refined ;)