When we made the decision to relocate to the West Country two years’ ago, for me, the decision was easy. I was born in Wroughton (ok, Swindon), but grew up in a small town between Bath and Salisbury. I went to university in Bournemouth, and after a couple of years in a PR agency in Southampton decided to take the plunge and move to London. Returning ‘home’ was always on the agenda, but it had to be when the time was right. I had a ruddy good time in London, I was very much a country bumpkin in our capital city. There was the time I asked someone on the Central Line which carriage the toilet was in, and then the time I was sent to an event by the River Thames only to return to the office two hours later having not been able to find the River. The less said about that better. If I’m being really honest, those two snippets are just the start of my seven years in the Big Smoke.
After having Reuben, the time felt right for us to move back, so we have settled in a small town between Bath and Bristol. From walking through the door two years’ ago it’s always felt like home. Ben is originally from Buckinghamshire, he is adjusting well to West Country life, although I think he is both amused and bemused by the West Country culture. Here are some of the reasons why I love the West Country:
- The people – and I include myself in this. The people here are so friendly, although I think a rabid dog is probably friendlier than London commuters. We say things like “good morning” when we pass each other in the street, we thank cars with a polite wave who have stopped to let us cross a zebra crossing (one of the things that amuses Ben). We know our neighbours, not just next door either, but we know the name of everyone who lives in our street, sometimes we even hang out.
- Driving – I only ever did a couple of driving trips in London, that’s all I needed to do to confirm I should leave it up to the experts, and took cabs or the tube (the carriages don’t have toilets you know). I don’t blink when we’re stuck behind a tractor on an A road, I even tolerate what I think is a very West Country thing whereby if a car has to give way at a junction, a car with the right of way stops to let the car that has to give way out. That has blown Ben’s mind.
- The language and accent – where we live is a real mix between posh West Country (a Bath accent with a mild twang, usually when someone says “alright”) and broad Bristolian. When I went to university and subsequently London I was very aware of my accent, so worked hard to try and sound less bumpkin, more London PR dahhhhling. I’m not sure if I ever convinced anyone… However, now I’m back, the old twang is becoming more broad with Ben shouting “turnip” at me every time I say something or drop a consonant (which I am forever correcting Reuben on as it goes e.g. wheresat – where’s that. Whassat – what’s that).
- The view – while I am aware that other areas of the country have fields, I stand by my belief that none of them look as nice as the rolling hills of the West Country. There
are areas surrounding Bath that I love driving through just to take in the view, and smell the lingering smell of manure. We’re fortunate where we live that we’re surrounded by fields where hot air balloons land and take off from, particularly ace during the Bristol Balloon Fiesta.
- Cider – I bloody cider. I don’t mean the cheap stuff you get in 2L bottles that I played Power Hour with as a teenager (why, just why). In fact, I am quite snobby about my cider choice. I am not overly keen on the Irish or Swedish stuff that you drink with ice, that won’t do. I prefer a nice cold glass of the West Country stuff – proper job. In fact, Somerset company Brothers recently sent me a cheeky tipple to try out. Brothers has just launched Brothers Hop Cider 4% ABV, which is a blend of apples and pears. I’ll
admit I’m not hugely keen on pear cider after overindulging at Glastonbury one year, it all got messy during an Orbital set and ended up with me being told off by the Green Police for weeing in a hedge. However, it was a good few years ago, so I thought I’d give pear cider another go, with everyone else’s’ best interests at heart, and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. It doesn’t have that horrid overly sweet taste some of the other fruity ciders have. The ones that tend to give you a headache after a bottle following the sugar crash. It’s a refreshing drink, best served cold, you can put it over ice if you like, but I do judge people who do that. Brothers Hop Cider is definitely going to be featuring in my summer drinks selection. Thanks guys!
Disclaimer: I was sent some Brothers Hop Cider free of charge, but all opinions are my own.