From South to North – The Great Divide
Every self-help manual counsels against it. Every ounce of commonsense shrieks at the thought of it. Who in their right mind would decide to move their lives from South to North because of a house casually spotted on holiday?
But that’s just what The Husband and I, along with the then Nine-Year-Old, did. Fresh from the waves and winds of Tiree – the outermost of the inner Hebrides – we broke our journey back to London in the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. The sun twinkled on the estuary, fishermen plied the ancient craft of netting salmon in the Tweed, Berwick nestled snugly and prettily behind its ancient Elizabethan fortified walls, and our hearts yearned for a bit more holiday and a bit less normality.
So it seemed normal to spot a house for sale and fall in love with the idea of moving into it. It seemed natural to spend the car journey from Berwick – the last town in England before Scotland – to London discussing how we’d arrange our finances to purchase this house we’d seen just once. It was a bit scarier when two months later the house was ours.
How the heck were we going to organise our lives to move from London to Berwick? Besides, we LOVE London. Its frenzy of people and cars, its cultural diversity and opportunities to soak up culture, the sheer anonymity of it. The fact that all our older children are there – and the rest of our families are easily accessible from it. London is the place we love. Well, I do. It seems The Husband – a Londoner born and bred and no spring chicken – has begun to yearn for a rural idyll. He wants to work less and enjoy life more. What loving wife would argue with that?
So, a year after buying the house, we took the plunge. The Husband trekked up and down the A1 in a Transit. And, with the help of The Silvery Haired Old Gentlemen (his oldest friends in more ways than one), he shifted the essentials of our London life to Berwick. We left our London house in the safe hands of the 23-year-old London Daughter and two of her friends – with plans to sell in a year’s time. What could possibly go wrong?
How hard could it be to translate our leafy North London lives into a Berwickian version? It’s a slightly mad work in progress. And the comparisons between London and Berwick life are often rather surprising.
Since our move, I’ve documented some of my thoughts, experiences and ideas in a regular monthly column in our local newspaper – The Berwick Advertiser. On this site you can read those articles and more random blog updates about the joys and struggles of adapting to a new life. Do offer feedback and comments. Whether you’ve made a huge life change or stayed where you are all your life; and whether you live in Berwick, London or some far flung part of the globe – I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.