Country Living

by James & Anna
Updated: March 10, 2024
12 minute read
Anna and James found a sign with Wallis House

Country living is a term I have used pretty much every day this week. It is a reference to the magazine Country Living that I always like to flip through when we are at Waitrose and I always download it for a flight.

Maybe it’s not the best magazine actually but for some reason I really like the title and the idea of it.

What I think when I say country living: living in a really nice and cosy house in the middle of nowhere with a garden and stunning views, lots of decorative items and paintings in the house, vintage furniture. People are wearing Barbour jackets and Wellington boots. Going to the village shop to pick up some bakery and chat to the shop owner and on Sunday morning have a beautiful but challenging hike in the area.

We actually have done many of these things this week. Hence, the week has been titled Country Living. However, we are not exactly there yet. Just a couple of finishing touches left!

Monday 4 March 2024

Trip to the Big City

Anna: Monday was an opportunity for us to experience how easy (or difficult) it is for us to travel to London from our new house. How we do it is: 10 min cycle to the train station which was quite nice and calm; 1.5 hour train to London Victoria which allowed me to read papers and for James to watch something relaxing; travel around London by tube which is usually 20-30 min max.

On that day the main goal was to get to the Russian Embassy because I wanted to apply for a surname change. It was all a bit of an unpleasant experience and my paperwork wasn’t accepted. I’m going to try again on 25th March. This whole surname business drives me nuts.

After that experience, I needed to recover, so to do that we were visiting the Design Museum (Did you know: after trees mature they start releasing CO2 back into the atmosphere. So… it is good to cut them down and then plant new ones), then Holland Park.

Then a Greek jeweller helped me unlock me from my pearl necklace (the clasp broke and I was wearing the necklace for 2 weeks straight).

We concluded our evening with Antonio who is back from Italy for a couple of weeks. It is always nice to see Antonio and catch up about small business lives and travel in a local well chosen pub.

Anna at the pub
Tuesday 5 March 2024

Nothing to Remember

Anna: Some days just disappear from our memory. I wonder whether those sort of days were worth living?

We both spent it at home because the car wasn’t sorted yet and I couldn’t bear to cycle on that day. We sorted lots of business matters – I’m sure.

I definitely don’t remember resting on that day but I definitely entertained myself by making a potato pie.

Potato pie
Wednesday 6 March 2024

Long Day, Early Night

Anna: A foggy day that I started pretty early due to a morning call at 08:30. Just after 9am Andrey and Matt from MSSL picked me up to car share during my morning commute – that’s how I sorted my travel on that day. You can read more about what I was doing at MSSL here. In the evening James and I were both pretty tired. We worked and had an early night (I hope!)

Anna and James walking when cold
Thursday 7 March 2024

Our Memorable Day

Anna: It was a long and memorable day for us. I had two important meetings at 10:00 and 11:00 and we were going to cycle. Fortunately, it was a sunny and lovely morning which makes everything seem a bit nicer but I was definitely a little grumpy that James hadn’t sorted the car yet. If it were up to me, I would have already gotten some nice red car but apparently it’s not all about the colour.

Anyway, on the way back I cycled halfway myself and we met in Walliswood. The last leg of the trip is always the hardest – probably because it’s over an hour of cycling and it’s also noticeably uphill. At home there were a couple of deliveries: wellington boots and pregnancy tests. So stay tuned for hopefully some happy news soon!

Anna got her new wellington boots

Friday 8 March 2024

A day to make the rest of the days easier

James: Today was the day to make other days much easier going forward in terms of travelling around the countryside and getting to the places we need to be. We spent a good portion of the day looking for and ordering a used Kia Sportage SUV car through Cinch. It was almost as effortless as ordering a big bag of 1100 PG tips tea bags which we did the other day.

Although it was pretty easy and effortless to place the order and arrange the delivery it did take hours of research to check if it was the right car for us, and to understand all of the financing options in terms of Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), Hire Purchases (HP) or buying a car out right.

It was a big decision but an essential lifestyle necessity to improve our life because we’ll save hours of travel time as we don’t have 5 hours spare each day to travel around the countryside by public transport or cycling to MSSL and supermarkets.

I think we ended the day by cycling to our nearest village shop about 12 minutes away to get rich tea biscuits and then we fell asleep watching Harrison Ford in the Fugitive.

Anna in Warnham village
Saturday 9 March 2024

A day of rest

James: We managed to rest pretty much all day whilst not feeling too guilty about it because it was raining outside meaning that we felt justified in our decision to stay in bed most of the day.

Normally whenever we rest we quite often feel that we should be doing something else such as organising and painting the house or working on one of many projects or exploring our surroundings. However, we think we did an okay job of resting.

We finished the day off with another amazing meal by Anna followed to the exact recipe. It was mushroom bourguignon and it was very nice.

It’s funny how you take most things for granted and you only notice you need things when you haven’t got them. Such as we noticed that we need to buy the basics for the house such as a kettle and microwave to warm things up.

I’m sure once we’ve got the basics and decorated we’ll be well on our way to Country Living.

Sunrise in Warnham
Sunday 10 March 2024

Upgrading Living Standards

James: Today started off with a nice but rainy walk to try out Anna’s new country living style wellington boots.

It was nice hearing Anna’s stories of visiting England back in 2016 and being introduced to real country living by friends that dressed her up in a Barbour jacket and took her to see the hound dogs and drink tea and eat scones in a big manor house somewhere.

The rest of the day involved hours on the phone to EE sorting out a new Google Pixel 8 mobile phone contract with a good deal of £10 per month for unlimited data, minutes and texts, however, this has failed so far because the computer says “No”.

It appears the offer in our EE broadband account for this mobile phone deal needs the EE account name to be identical to the account name on the new mobile phone account which it currently isn’t due to various reasons. After hours of potential solutions from us and the advisor we decided to cancel the order as it seems like the only way to get it sorted is to go in store and change the account name from there but apparently this can only be done if there’s a bereavement.

So, so far technology isn’t playing ball (i.e. EE’s system doesn’t understand complex requests, old iPhone 6’s not working for the past year) and we’re still a one mobile phone household which makes logging into apps and planning our day pretty complex.

Mobile phone numbers and technology has now fully integrated itself into everyday life making it an essential part of doing things which is both a shame and a necessity at the same time.

James walking in the woods

All in all it was a true week of country living, although not quite the Country Living magazine Anna reads in shops and often wants so badly to gather ideas for our dream home one day. One thing to note is that Anna is a true environmental specialist and location manager as she knows how to make things feel comfortable and look nice. A term we coined back in December 2020 when Anna visited Manchester in what we called Catacombs flat in West Didsbury where I used to live and rearranged all the plants and furniture to improve the environment so much and make it a memorable place to have lived.

It’s funny how country living means so many things. When we have to cycle through beautiful countryside out of necessity to get to where we’re going, that’s country living, when we need to plan the week ahead to get food from the shop, that’s country living, when we visit friends in London and need to rush for the last train back to get us back to our bicycles at 1am before cycling along the dark roads for 10 minutes to get home, that’s country living, walking through scenic countryside, that’s country living, planning our life and home the way we want it, that’s country living, pretty much living in the countryside doing everyday life is basically country living.

As lucky and as happy as we are where we are right now, hopefully, one day we’ll have the country living home we see in those glossy magazines so that we can “location manager” and “environmental specialist” our future home to the best of our ability.

If you are curious, here are our living costs for this week 10 of the year (4 March – 10 March 2024).

4 Mar – 10 Mar 2024
One week of rent of a one bedroom house in West Sussex but near Surrey Hills
This week it’s been broadband (WiFi) and phone bills
Train to London and back, tube and deposit for a car Kia Sportage (red, like Anna wanted)
Some shopping and some eating eating out. Most of the shopping was done the week before.
Amazon purchases and Le Chameau wellington boots for Anna
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