When I moved to Shropshire from our home down south eleven years ago, I thought I'd be settled for life. I loved the idea of living in the country and raising my family in a rural environment. I had visions of country walks, coffee in quaint cafes and fresh country air to breathe.
The reality has never really matched up to this fantasy. Don't get me wrong, it was the best decision I ever made to leave my flat and my drug dealing neighbours, but I've always felt like a city girl in a country setting, and that feeling has been growing. When I first moved here, it was quite a thriving little market town, but slowly the shops have closed making the high street a depressing collection of charity shops, bargain shops, kebab take aways and not much more. I had a favourite canalside shop and cafe which was a lovely place to spend a few hours. It closed down a few years ago like most of the other places I liked around here. Even the local branch of my bank shut down meaning my nearest one is miles away. There is a weekly market which is very well attended but I can't stand it! Stalls selling clothes, books and fruit and veg that are all open to the elements and have seen better days, really don't do it for me. I like nice, big shiny shops with fabulous displays that sell beautiful things. I like a wide choice of eateries and coffee shops. I like art galleries, museums and parks.
The nearest shopping centre is 20 miles away, and it isn't that great. Many shops stand empty and a lot of the stores I love at the Bullring or the Trafford Centre are not found in Telford. We have to travel 50+ miles for any serious shopping!
My dream of having lovely, long walks in the countryside have also not come to fruition. Any land around here is used for farming, and although there are some pedestrian routes across fields, that isn't the kind of walking I want to do with the children. I like woodland walks with safe pathways for the kids to cycle, a field to kick around a ball and a cafe by the car park!
The fresh country air turns out to be a disappointment too. The smell of the fertilizer that the farmer spreads on the fields smells like a combination of fish and vomit. It's acrid! If the winds in a certain direction, all you can smell is cow manure. It's like a thick, green cloud of stench descends over the town. I'm not cut out for this agricultural living!!
There is also the fact that my children can't just pop to the cinema or to a concert. The nearest cinema is about 15 miles away and there is no bus to get them there. In fact the bus service from here is abysmal, with more routes being cut all the time. The nearest train station is 40 minutes away so they can't even get to the major towns without our parental taxi service. The opportunities are limited to hanging around parks or going to sleepovers with bottles of WKD to add to the entertainment. I want my children to be able to see the latest films, see top bands, go to the theatre and have access to ice skating, bowling and bustling shopping centres. We're not even in a Domino's Pizza delivery zone here!
So, we've made the decision. It's time to go. Megan is graduating this year and intends to head down south to do an internship or graduate scheme in London (fingers crossed). Ian already commutes 50 miles into Birmingham everyday for work, so it wouldn't make any difference to his job if we moved a similar distance South of Birmingham. Joe already lives in Northampton, so that seems like a good starting point for us to look at relocating. There are some places around there for us to look at.
I'd love to be closer to a big town or city. I'd love easy access to public transport meaning I could whisk myself into London when I'm invited to events! My children would have every opportunity to live the life they deserve with a degree of independence.
I'm under no illusion that it will be easy to sell my house, although it is a lovely four bedroomed detached house with an amazing ensuite bathroom in a nice quiet, cul-de-sac. It's not that I don't like my house, it's just I don't want to be here anymore. A fresh start sounds really attractive. I've never really made many friends here and I spend every day sat at home with Freddy waiting for the afternoon school run. Not that I'm complaining too much...it is a great opportunity to do my blogging! I'd love to be a lady that lunches with a circle of friends when Fred starts nursery, and it isn't ever going to happen here.
So, we're throwing our future into the hands of the Gods. If we sell, we move. If not, we'll carry on making the best of what we've got....and putting plenty of miles on the car to give the kids the life I want them to have.