Everyday Life

I have written a lot of posts about music lately, as those old (and sometimes new) songs keep finding their way into my head, and I get that urge to add them to my ever-growing list. The list that was once intended to be very short, and to provide material for occasional posts, seems to be in danger of becoming a blog all of its own. My tendency to wallow in nostalgia, fuelled by musical reveries, seems to be undiminished. This whole blog was originally intended to be primarily about my life in Norfolk, in contrast to my previous life in London, and that seems to have been lost along the way. At least a little bit lost.

As I approach almost two years here, I can say with confidence that Beetley is beginning to feel like home, instead of somewhere that I just happen to live. For some time, I had a vague feeling that this was a bit like a holiday, and at some stage, normal life would be resumed. Of course, this is now my normal life, and far removed from my previous one, fortunately mostly in a good way. I came to sit before the computer late tonight, intending to write about yet another song, but something stopped me, and I began to write this instead. It came to me, that I don’t miss London. I have not yet returned there, despite being close, when visiting Hertfordshire, and Essex. I try to imagine reasons to go back and visit someone, or something. I fancy seeing the view from The Shard, but there will undoubtedly be queues, and crowds. I could visit some friends there, but the logistics of travel, parking, and getting Ollie looked after, make it all seem to fall into the ‘too difficult’ box. I miss the choice of restaurants, but if I went back, would they just all seem too familiar, and old hat?

I have to face the fact that I have put the city behind me. Even a trip into Norwich seems like the big metropolis, and has become an unattractive prospect. I have slowed  down, my pace has lessened, and my desire for things has almost gone. I seek no new clothes, gadgets, or accessories. My lifelong passion for collecting films, first on VHS, then later on DVD, seems to be that of another person, someone different. I still read about them, and on occasion, write about them, but my desire to watch and own them is slowly fading. I am overwhelmed by things. The collections of a reasonably long life, filling spaces in rooms, shed, garage, and loft. I need to divest myself of belongings, not accumulate more. I need the freedom of less, the cleanliness of not owning. Today is as good a day as any to start.

When I moved up here, I imagined that friends and family would flock to visit, to enjoy the peace of the countryside, and the delights of rural England. This was a selfish assumption, and gave little thought to their busy lives, work commitments, and the problems of travel, to a place with no station, and a road network stuck solidly in the 1950’s. East Anglia is a forgotten place. There is no motorway to the East, no high speed rail link to the lump in the North Sea, that nobody ever needs to go to. This is not a complaint, perhaps it is the very thing that makes it such a good place to live. It is not somewhere to drive through, to get to anywhere else. Neither is it a place to live, so that you can commute to somewhere busier, and more important. If there was a road sign that typified this county, it would be a cul-de sac. The life of England runs North to South, at the Western limits of East Anglia, and there is no reason to turn right, to head East; unless you live here. This fact makes local people insular, and less-travelled, than those in some other parts of the UK. I have met many people who have moved here, for retirement, or peace and quiet, but most real local people do not leave. They are born here, live here, work here, and die here. There is something old-fashioned about that, and also something compelling.

I am still a Londoner of course. To the perception of others, or when I open my mouth and speak, inside my head, and in every memory I have, it is all London, and always will be. But I am  now able to say that I am living in Norfolk, or I am from Norfolk. That may seem silly to the reader, but it is a massive change in how I view my life, and the biggest change in my life too. So, what is that Norfolk life, that I now accept as mine, and that I have lived for nearly two years? You may have read about my dog walking, and my endless wanderings with Ollie. That is part of it. My volunteering for the Fire Service has been busier of late, and getting me out to small towns and villages I never knew existed. Helping with the Cycling Proficiency at the local school is on its way to making me part of the local community, as is talking to groups about fire safety, in halls and day centres. I doubt I will become one of those people recognised in the street, stopped for a gossip, or a chat about the latest trends in smoke alarms, but I feel that I am contributing something.

My circle of friends locally has not really expanded. They are still predominantly other dog-walkers, although I know some people from the school as well now, I don’t see them outside of ‘normal duties’. I am friendly with neighbours, but we don’t really do a lot else, by way of popping into peoples’ houses, or meeting for dinner and drinks. That was something I used to do a lot, and I don’t miss it at all. My life has changed so much, I am only just now becoming fully aware of just how much. I have woken up, and smelled the proverbial coffee. I live in Norfolk now, and this is my life. And it’s not bad, it really isn’t.

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13 thoughts on “Everyday Life

  1. There’s something really intriguing in looking at a small place like Beetley through the eyes of an outsider. My home village in Finland is very much the same; people are born there, live there, marry, have kids and die. Many of my old classmates are still going to the same supermarkets and sending their kids to the same schools they went to. Sometimes I admire their courage to say ‘this is where I’m from and this is the life I want”. When I go back, I feel a huge disconnect: I am FROM there. I know the place, but the place doesn’t know me. But, I will always be a countryside person at heart!

    It is not easy to move to small rural community when it has not chosen you, but rather you have chosen it! I wish there would have been more dog walkers like you where I grew up 🙂

    Also, I totally agree with you about minimalism. There is a point when buying things doesn’t really add any value to life; it just becomes “stuff” and unnecessary weight.
    (Summa summarum; I liked you post very much Pete!)

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    1. Mari, I think you have got to the heart of it. They didn’t choose me (us) and they are the ones who have to adapt, despite our transition from city life, it is actually harder for them, than for me. They try to accept outsiders, albeit reluctantly, and they see their world changing, because people like me have inhabited it.
      Regards and best wishes as always, Pete.

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    1. Cheers Eddy. I am currently trying to compile a birthday list, for the 16th. Hard to do, when you don’t really want anything.
      Hope all’s well mate. Love to you both, and the Winkette too, of course.
      Pete.

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  2. Your thoughts, and Jude’s too, fit mines like a glove. I adapt more and more to Norfolk living and I love it. Living and working in a big busy city like Bonn, I must say I find it all too much. And I want less. I want to downsize, slow down and you’ re absolutely right; there comes a day when the desire to buy, get and have the latest film, book, gadgets, clothing are gone. Like you, I clearly see the contrast to city life and obviously I don’t miss all the events not taking place in North Norfolk, because there’s plenty going on in Bonn and Cologne. What will it be like, to live there permanently? You have settled down fine. Living on the edge is fine as a couple, on my own, I’d probably get second thoughts. People are getting very old, rural living is healthy. 😃 I don’t mind the long ways, it’s part if the game. The flight takes 70 min. and the journey 8-10 hrs. It just wouldn’t be the same with highways, more cars, more tourists. The only thing I really dislike what Cley is concerned; property is very expensive, going up every year. The locals sell their houses and move into rural Norfolk or go somewhere else and the new rich owners only use the houses very occasionally. It’ sad to see all this fine buildings closed up for the wintertime. Probably more than 75 % of the houses of the high street/ coast road today are holiday homes. Sad. The birds don’t care though, they come! 😊
    Come and see us at the end of the month, all three of you if you have time; I’ll be there in 3 weeks time, Selma and myself are counting the days now. 😉
    Big hug!
    Dina xo

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    1. Thanks Dina, we will certainly come and see you if we get the chance.
      They had Northern Lights in Cley this week, and I didn’t know! So near, to see such wonders, and I missed them again.
      I agree that it is sad to see the village being consumed by holiday homes, and the part-time dwellers. Lots of the heart will be lost.
      Love and best wishes from us all in Beetley. Pete. x

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  3. A thought provoking post. I have never been a city person, though I have always lived in towns / suburbs, but my OH spent 25 years of his life in London and although he was glad to return to his roots – Shropshire – and leave the dirt and crime behind, I think he does miss some of the benefits of a metropolis such as public transport links, especially late at night, and the variety of music venues. Not that we want, or can afford to live there now.

    It’s one reason we are struggling to find somewhere to retire to. I’m not sure we are ready to slow down and bury ourselves in the countryside where villages have no amenities and buses are rarer than hen’s teeth. What happens when I can’t drive a car? Should I worry about that now?

    You make me wonder what it is that I really want.
    And whether you have really found what you want.
    Jude xx

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    1. I would never say that this is exactly what I want Jude. In an ideal world, I would like a house on the Sussex/Dorset Coast, close to a fair-sized town, say Bournemouth, or Worthing, with access to trains, and lots of readily available public transport. However, the compromise on accommodation would have been too great to be able to realise that, so I am settled enough with the situation that we have. I don’t recommend it without reservation though, if transport links and venues are a concern, then this is definitely not the area for you.
      Nice to give you food for thought though…Regards as always, Pete. x

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  4. If it weren’t for me searching “Norfolk” that day on wordpress I wouldn’t have found your blog 😉 so in my eyes you were from Norfolk from the start… Until your london posts came thick and fast … And then there’s that accent lol. Hopefully one day I’ll have the same kind of revelation 🙂 x

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  5. I guess the country life will “slow you down” (to quote a Norfolk sign with which you may be familiar). I could put a twist on an old saying: You can take the boy out of the city, but you can’t take the city out of the boy. Or, put another way, once a Londoner, always a Londoner. But it seems you are adapting so well to the quiet life that you actually prefer it to the hubbub of the Big Smoke.

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    1. I think it is best described as a transition David. To use a nonsensical word (that I have seen written seriously) I have transitionized to Norfolk.
      Now, guess what country the writer of that word came from?
      Best wishes from England, Pete.

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