My husband and I moved to the country to experience a sustainable ‘tree change’ life style. We both had lived by the beach our whole lives.
I grew up in a beautiful little village, Avalon Beach which is situated on Sydney’s northern beaches. My husband grew up in Trinidad, in the Caribbean.
The thought of lots of land, mountain air and changing seasons as well as becoming self sufficient was a romantic notion to both of us, and so we made the move to Ben Lomond in the Guyra Shire in the New England region of Northern NSW in January 2004.
Living in the country has been hard work rather than ‘romantic’ and that cute little cottage with rambling roses and a beautiful garden has taken years to achieve and living in Ben Lomond means an hour’s drive to anywhere, so we plan our shopping trips and outings. The beauty of being isolated is that we can enjoy life at our own pace, enjoy the sounds of nature and not get caught up with the hustle and bustle of city.
Country living can be harsh and unforgiving. Things that I used to take for granted are now a planned process. Instead of walking 5 minutes to the General Store to buy milk, it is included in our fortnightly shopping list, with long life milk in the pantry as a reserve, just in case we run out.
The nearest shopping town is located at Guyra, which is about a 45km round trip by car. The shops close at 5pm and 12midday on Saturday. There is no Sunday shopping unless we travel to Armidale or Glen Innes to a market day and 24/7 shopping is a long way from this little country town. It is a distant memory of rushing into a supermarket at 7.00pm on the way home from work…
Instead of having a quick dip at the beach, previously a 2 minute walk from where we lived, it is a 3 hour drive to the mid-north-coast. Beach life is now a beautiful spa that we gifted ourselves last Christmas and some years we take a summer holiday to Byron Bay or Coffs Harbour. We exchanged our beach life for the mountain air. However, we did install a luxurious 8 person spa and enclosure so life is not tooooooo difficult!
We both travelled a lot in our youth and decided that our days of exploring overseas are somewhat limited now, mainly due to my injuries from a car accident. But living in this region make me feel like I am living in England or Scotland – happy memories of the days when we travelled to see my husbands family every 18 months or so, with a few trips around Europe. I often wish that our international family lived together because we all get along so well. I especially loved our lingering lunch meals that led into afternoon discussions and – oh my gosh is it already 6pm chats around the dinner table. Everyone had so much to talk about in all sorts of accents – English, Caribbean, Welsh and of course, Aussie!
These meals were a splendour with the family gathering for an old fashioned roast, complete with roast potato, cauliflower au gratin, peas, beans (usually from the garden) home made gravy and mint sauce followed by home made pies and custard.
These family days started early in the morning, with my Mother-In-Law doing all the preparation for a 1.00pm ‘sit down’ at the dinner table. The dinner table was dazzling – complete with a pure white linen tablecloth that had been hand made by a great aunt, the best silver which, in reality was used every day, and an array of the best wines that had been collected from family and friends over many years. This was just a ‘run of the mill’ weekend lunch, I have been told. After lunch we all helped with the clearing up and then took a ‘digestive walk around the garden’ before settling in to the living room for an afternoon of further chatter. Then it was time for coffee, tea and chocolate (4 small squares each to make it last!).
Sprinkled into this beautiful recipe was lengthy chats about family members and friends – lots and lots of talk about who was doing what and where they were living now, including everyone’s heartfelt opinion about each person of interest. Of course, no one would mention any part of this conversation the next day – there was much to much love in this family to offend an actual person, and it made me think about how much this family cared about people and how much life was to be lived!
And so, we now live in the New England region of NSW, although I would have preferred to moved next door to my family in England, and we have made a comfortable home, a beautiful garden and a few good friends…
Everyday we think of our parents or mention them and/or have a chuckle about some of their quirks. Our home is filled with photographs of our parents and families as well as a display of knick-knacks that once belonged to our childhood homes. It is comforting.