Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Living in the city

I've often heard people say they'd love to move to the countryside so they could be more sustainable, more self sufficient. Chickens, goats, a nice big pond, being able to grow all your fruit and veg - what is there not to like? I've lived in a little rural village, and I loved every minute of it, although I wasn't able to grow anything at all at the time. I understand the appeal. 

But I'm in a sentimental mood (having just returned from the pub!) and I'd like to stick up for living in a city for a minute. 

Now, I know that plenty of people already think city life is great, but I wanted to explain why I think it is. I know this is just one city, just one place. 

I'm lucky to live on the edge of a city. In 30 minutes walk I can be in the city centre, or at work, or at most of my friends' houses. In 5 minutes, I can be looking out over the hills (not always snow covered).
We can buy local milk, fruit, eggs, vegetables, meat, all grown in the city, and most of it within about 5 miles. We live close to a lot of charity shops, independent greengrocers, butchers, newsagents, cafes, restaurants and pubs. There's a bus every 5 minutes, and trains to all over the country within 40 minutes walk. I can't say much for cycling here, it's too hilly. But it's an exhilarating experience once you're used to it. 

Our garden is small, and all of it is next to the pavement. No good for privacy and sunbathing, but great for meeting the neighbours. People walk past and look in through the windows, but we can always see what's going on in the street. There's endless entertainment, and always new people to meet. We have a thriving Freecycle network for turning trash into treasure, and LETS scheme for bartering time and skills. There's always something going on if you want company, but also open spaces, parks, quiet walks, woods, and the national park close by if you'd rather solitude. 

I can't keep chickens or goats here in this tiny garden, and I'm not going to grow my entire potato quota for the year. But I can grow herbs and fruit, veg and flowers. My garden isn't a full time job, although sometimes it seems like it could be! I don't have to drive to the shops or the pub (even though sometimes I do). I can easily get organic veg, flour, rice, whatever else we might use.
Life is as simple or complex as you make it. I've had a complicated life, a simple life, and now I've got a riotous, joyous combination of the two. I suppose I'm just thinking, don't wait til you're in the perfect place, the perfect time, to make a start this whole simple living thing. Here and now is the best place and time. 

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