Our ‘Escape To The Country’... or Don’t Just Watch It, Do It!
Updated: Mar 12
The Hubster and I have been living here in Wales for a little over three months now, fulfilling our shared dream of escaping to the country. At the end of October 2019 we moved from our hometown of Warrington in the suburbs of Cheshire, England where we were both born to just outside a rural village in Denbighshire, Wales. We had long dreamt of living somewhere rural; of owning a cottage with beautiful views, enjoying walks with our pooches Sausage and Rolo, of having a picturesque natural landscape right on our doorstep and feeling part of a close-knit community. We would regularly binge-watch TV shows like ‘Escape To The Country’, ‘New Lives In The Wild’, ‘Grand Designs’ and ‘Escape To The Chateau’ and for many years it felt like a pipe dream, something that only other people do.
When we first announced our plans to relocate as you might expect there were those who were sceptical: warning us of the so-called ‘unfriendly Welsh” who they predicted wouldn’t take kindly to us English folk muscling in on their countryside. Others cautioned about upping sticks and moving to a new place....to a whole new country in fact, away from everyone and everything we knew. No doubt others quietly thought us just plain bonkers: that maybe we were experiencing a ‘Mid Life Crisis’ or perhaps a knee-jerk reaction to becoming ‘Empty Nesters’. However finding ourselves living together, just the two of us for the first time in our marriage and without the geographical constraints of school catchment areas, children’s friendship groups and our jobs to consider (we now both enjoy more work flexibility so can be based pretty much anywhere) we suddenly realised we had a newfound freedom and exciting opportunities opening up to us.
It would have been all too easy to welcome a slower pace of life and the comfort of routine and familiarity and that’s great for lots of people but it’s not for us. Personally I felt eager for new challenges and to share an exciting new chapter in our lives together. I wanted something to fill the void left by our boys being independent adults who no longer need us so much and I longed for a healthier work-life balance following a pretty intense couple of years establishing my Online Floristry business. And so with a new zest for life we sold our Warrington house and began searching for a home and a village community so that we could begin living our new ‘Townie turned Country Bumpkin’ Lifestyle.
This was the Wish List we compiled for our new home:
Must be somewhere our youngest son, Oliver will be happy to live if / when he moves back home after three years at uni (likely followed by some travelling)
Must be within travelling distance so that our eldest son Dan can visit regularly
Ideally be within a 1 hour drive of Warrington so we can regularly see family and friends
Must have a suitable annex for my parents to move into in 2020
Ideally have an outbuilding I could adapt into a Flower Studio for my business needs.
Must have access to motorway / train network for the Hubster’s job
Views, views, views! Another must!
Ideally nice dog walks right on our doorstep
Ideally be in or close to a friendly village community
Must have a pretty garden (or the potential for one)
Notably our requirements were about lifestyle goals rather than the property itself. Neither the Hubster or I are particularly fussed about material things, we wanted a comfortable home of course but the location was far more important to us. We had no pre-fixed ideas about the size of the house, the number of bedrooms, bathrooms etc nor did we have a tick list of requirements for the decor, fixtures and fittings. For us, this move was always about creating a life we would love.
Arial photo showing the beautiful natural landscape that first attracted us to our home.
During a several day trips to various counties within an hours drive of Warrington we quickly fell in love with Wales in particular and focused our efforts on finding the right location. Of course there are many beautiful, rural locations throughout the UK however we found few within a one hour drive of Warrington that could offer the picturesque natural landscape of Wales. As fate would have it after hours and hours and hours spent searching property websites online the home we ultimately bought was the first and only property we visited.
On that first trip here to look round the house we brought my parents and youngest son, Oliver along with us, it took less than an hours drive door to door from Warrington and we all immediately knew this was ‘The One’. For me I knew even before we entered the house; I remember being mesmerised as we drove up the hill along a winding, tree-lined lane with sheep and rabbits grazing either side and as we approached the cottage I caught a glimpse of big brown cows grazing in the pastures that surround the house on two sides. The icing on the cake and probably what swung it for animal-loving Oliver too was something that happened as we parked on the drive and climbed from the car: a red fox quietly crawled through a hedgerow onto the lawn right in front of us!
Photo by W. Radley: View from the rear of the cottage. August 2019
The house was more than we could have dared to dream of with a separate annex bungalow next door for my lovely mum and dad, a stables block I immediately saw as my future Flower Studio, countless footpaths, bridle ways snaking from the lane through open farmland and over the surrounding hills and a couple of acres of lovely gardens with breathtaking views across the Welsh hills.
Photo by W. Radley: View from the front of the cottage. July 2019
The cottage interior felt warm and welcoming with old beams, large picture windows, stone fireplaces and a lovely farmhouse kitchen with aga. Home owners (‘L’and ‘R‘) had lived here over thirty years and their love for the place was evident in their stories as they showed us around. They were reluctantly selling for health reasons however we discovered they had previously accepted offers on the house on three occasions only to pull out when they realised the people buying “weren’t right” for their lovely home. ‘L‘ later confided in me that she knew immediately she wanted us to have the house when she saw my beaming grin and wide-eyes on arrival. I also think I have “Freddie Fox” to thank as ‘L’ told me he’s usually a shy creature and it’s rare he comes to the garden when people are around so she “felt goose bumps when he came running to welcome us”.
Of course we were over the moon when our offer was accepted. We visited the house and the nearby village many times over the Summer months and each time we did the Hubster and I would pinch ourselves that we would shortly be calling this enchanting place our home.
***NEW POST COMING SOON - ‘Keep Calm And Move House’***