Moving to the Countryside

by James Wallis
Updated: March 3, 2024
22 minute read
living in the countryside

This week we decided to start early by writing our weekly journal on Saturday rather than Sunday night to save us from knackering ourselves out even before the next week has started.

This week I (James) is writing the weekly journal, not because Anna is lazy, quite the opposite. Anna decided not to have a rest from writing but to write about some of our travel stories and add another recipe to our website. But, before that as we speak Anna is in the kitchen making scones, salad and organising our boxes of furniture as we’ve now fully moved into our newly rented home in Warnham, West Sussex (the countryside).

We can’t believe that it’s already March. So much has happened already this year, yet so much still to do and it already feels like 2024 is rushing by.

My default would be to write this week’s journal and run everything through ChatGPT to make it sound better but Anna won’t allow that as it’s not as authentic and in my style so I’ll do as I’m told.

So, let’s get started without ChatGPT.

Monday 26 February 2024

A slow start to the working week

We started our week in Cranleigh at our cosy Airbnb.

It was a slow start to the working week as we were still sorting out our new home with lists of things that needed doing both for us and our landlord. It’s funny how you try to prioritise the important and big work and PhD tasks but still end up doing the little nitty gritty jobs to get them ticked off your list so that your mind is free to concentrate. I guess we need to implement some Tim Ferris strategies.

It was also meant to be Piano move in day at our new house but Anna and Klaus of London Pianos decided to give it a bit more time to figure things out as it’s going to be a difficult move with four movers and lots of tight manoeuvres. It turned out to be a good decision as Anna has a tendency to double book her time because she likes to do as much as humanly possible and had also volunteered to do a tour of Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL) for important guests and she wouldn’t want to miss either.

Later that night I was also accused of being a gentleman by the local builders for offering Anna my coat to cover her in multiple layers as I met her from our now much loved Cranleigh bus stop where Anna gets dropped off by Surrey Connect (We decided not to cycle this week as we were pretty tired from all the activities the week before, plus it was cold and wet too).

Anna resting and watching her film
Tuesday 27 February 2024

A good day of work

Tuesday was a day of good work with lots of breakthrough solutions for a project we’re working on. Working from home definitely allows lots of good focus time. I don’t think I stood up from the time Anna left to go to the space lab to the time we decided to meet at Sainsburys for our favourite activity of food shopping.

I can’t quite remember what we did on Tuesday night apart from that we watched a 3 hour long form interview by Lex Fridman and Tucker Carlson where they discussed all sorts including Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin.

I’m sure we probably did a bit of work as we normally do in the evening and I may have had a quick nap too but maybe not. It’s really hard to remember what we did each day. That’s why we really like writing our weekly journals so that we can look back on everything we do with fond memories. Looking back through Telegram and our photos does jog our memories though.

James And Anna at the bus stop
Wednesday 28 February 2024

Lots to sort and do

Wednesday saw Anna reunited with her much loved gloves we bought in Japan at Christmas. On Tuesday night Anna couldn’t find her gloves anywhere and thought they must’ve been lost forever. Luckily when Anna got on the Surrey Connect bus (or MSSL school bus as she likes to say) that morning she was relieved to be met by the driver who handed her the gloves and was joking about that if he didn’t see her on the bus this morning he would hand them to her like a baton out of his window as he overtook us on our morning cycle to MSSL. I think we’re famous for cycling like we do up Holmbury Hill.

In general Wednesday was a good day of work and PhD with lots of in progress projects keeping us busy on the business front and lots of research tasks and talks to broaden our horizons/minds.

Also, our new landlord fixed lots of little things from our Monday list in our newly rented home which was very good whilst we were in our last full day of Airbnb in Cranleigh.

We also started our search for a car as we’ll be slightly too far away to cycle to MSSL next week.

Anna also had a hard day dealing with the absolutely inadequate court system in the UK about getting the correct legal documents to accompany her documents to support her passport name change at the Russian Embassy in London (I think Anna will write a full article on this never-ending legal administrative journey one day).

Lots to sort and do.

Cheakpea sandwich
Thursday 29 February 2024

Fast internet and slow transport

Thursday was a long day and the day we moved out of our Airbnb. I set off at 7:30am on my journey to pick up the Enterprise van from Guildford for a good discount of £45 for the day including damage protection (just in case) and Anna packed all of our belongings before heading off to MSSL ready for me to pick up and take to our new home.

Anna had a day of training and supervisors meetings, whilst I waited in the afternoon for our super fast broadband to be installed (Thanks EE / Openreach) so that we can be efficient whilst running our business, doing PhD research and doing all the other things we need the internet for. One thing we learnt from travelling is that we need fast broadband to do what we do because it shouldn’t be the case that the technology is slower than the human.

It was nice to have the van because as soon as it hit 16:45 I picked up Anna from MSSL (no cycling this week) and headed off to London to pick up plants and our fig tree from our old house that our housemate Neda had been looking after. It was very nice to be back in our old environment and drive through London during rush hour even if the round trip did take about 5 hours.

Leaving Airbnb home after a month

Friday 1 March 2024

Freezing cold inside and out

Friday involved us waking up and going straight to big Tesco at 8am in Horsham to stock up on essentials whilst we still had the van.

I then spent the morning dropping off the van in Guildford and then travelling back by foot and 2 buses for 3 hours via Dorking through some pretty amazing scenic countryside. This is the beauty of living in the Countryside without a car. Everything takes much longer than city life and involves a lot more logistical planning due to the public transport schedules.

Friday was also a really cold day in the house as we’re still getting used to how storage heaters work. When I arrived back, Anna was sitting in her hat and coat doing 3 online training sessions for her PhD.

Due to it being such a cold day James was put into a Churchill nap and woken two hours later by Anna reading our self-posted valentines card that we wrote together without seeing last week which was very sweet and then we thought to make our favourite comfort food, French Onion Soup to warm us up before bed.

It was absolutely freezing in the house that night due to the storage heaters not having had time to store the heat, plus we were aware of slight gaps around the windows that would let cold air in (Don’t worry it’s all in a spreadsheet to be fixed by the window company) so going to bed that night was a cold one.

Luckily we had our electric blanket that we were so excited to use to warm the bed up just like we did during our cold castle nights in Scotland. We also enjoyed our favourite pastime activity of asking Echo “what’s the temperature outside and inside”. It turned out to be 10.2 degrees Celsius inside (0°C outside) which I’m guessing isn’t great. We definitely feel for the families that had to sacrifice heating their homes last winter because of absolutely ridiculous energy prices.

On the way from Guildford to Warnham
Saturday 2 March 2024

A nice country walk

We woke up and the radiators were on and working which was perfect as we were starting to feel warm in our new home (now that it was 15.3°C, still a bit off the recommended 18°C but much better). We also had our first hot bath in months, probably since July 2023 during our honeymoon in the Lake District (there were nice Onsen’s in Japan and spa pools in New Zealand but not like our favourite type of bath together).

Since we moved into our new place and have been familiarising ourselves with everything, bathtime has become a measurement of flow rates and boiler efficiency tests for Anna and myself to understand how much hot water we have per day, especially considering the price of electricity these days.

Saturday has mainly been a day of sorting out the house, receiving Amazon deliveries, and with Anna baking and salad making, as well as sorting out a few bills and changes of address with a nice country walk right on our doorstep to break up the day.

Anna having a walk in West Sussex
Sunday 3 March 2024

Waking up early to start resting

Sunday started off with us waking up early (6am) so that we could start resting (We coined this saying “Let’s Start Resting Early” because we were trying to fit so many things in to one day including resting and now we’ve added it to Funny With James & Anna).

The funny thing is that we didn’t actually end up resting because Anna started doing Prioritisation and Work Life Balance LinkedIn learning and I was watching some how to web development videos on YouTube.

After we’d finished resting we started our day with Anna’s hidden talent of making amazing soups, this morning it was Zucchini velouté & cherry tomato confit. Whilst the magic in the kitchen was going on I was honing my web development skills by improving our business website which has been an ongoing web redesign project of ours since we had our business consultancy sessions with Nine Nine Lab back in April 2023. As I’m sure builders can relate, you only get time to work on your own home improvement projects in your own spare time just like us with building our own websites (I’ll write an article about the process one day and calculate how many hours it’s taken so far, I’m guessing 100’s).

As well as this Anna was doing lots of clothes folding and we had time for a quick walk to the post box and back down our quiet lane.

We’re definitely glad we did the majority of our weekly journal yesterday because after we’ve published this article we can spend the rest of the night choosing which film to watch. I would probably go for some 1980’s movie starring John Candy and Anna would go for some period drama or English countryside-based detective show resembling Miss Marple.

signposts of West Sussex

Enjoying our time doing what we do and moving in to our new home surrounded by beautiful countryside during these cold winter months and expenses that seem far too high for what they’re worth reminds me of two things (I’m not sure why, probably because it was a cold few days and I’d watched too much YouTube videos about Propaganda, Living Standards and Wealth Inequality from as Anna calls them my mates… Neil, Damien, Sasha, Gary and Russell): –

  1. The Baz Luhrmann sunscreen song which mentions how each generation wishes their politicians were noble and prices were reasonable.
  2. How my grandparents’ generation during the “good old days” went to bed in cold houses for various reasons including the fact that it’s just the way it was.

I think if we listen to wisdom and learn from the past we’ll be able to navigate life’s challenges and uncertainties, especially if we stay true to ourselves, take a few risks, be self aware, be kind to others, grow personally, live without regrets and embrace the journey of life with resilience and optimism.

It’s nice to know things stay the same whilst being different. 

If you are curious, here are our living costs for this week 9 of the year (26 February – 3 March 2024).

26 Feb – 3 Mar 2024
One week of rent of a one bedroom house in West Sussex but near Surrey Hills
Surrey Connect bus to MSSL and back plus renting a van for one day and paying for petrol
Quite a bit of food shopping as we were stocking up for our countryside life plus Anna induldged herself with pasties at MSSL.
Amazon purchases and B&Q purchases for slightly decorating our new house

p.s. no ChatGPT was used here which I’m sure Anna and Elon Musk will be happy about.

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