This is part two in an on-going and slightly rambling series in which I try to decide if it’s better to live in the town or the countryside. It’s not a definitive debate, but rather a place to gather my thoughts and try to make some sense of them. If you have any advice, I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Part one discussed things more generally, but here I want to talk specifically about walking.
One of the real perks of living in a small town is being able to walk everywhere. Because we live centrally, we’re always only a five minute walk away from Waitrose or the other delights of Ely town centre.
Walking is fantastic exercise. Everyday, I walk the children to school and back – which takes about 15 minutes each way. Sometimes this can be boring or a horrible rush, but it really is good to have this time with them. We have a chat on the way there, about the weather or what the day holds in store. We see people we know and say hello.
Driving and parking around their infant school is a nightmare, and I know we’d miss out on these little chats if I was distracted by driving. According to this 2013 survey by the Department of Transport, less than half of all primary school children walk to school every day. I think the walk there wakes everyone up physically and mentally and I’m sure this must be good for them.
On the rare occasions we do drive, it seems ridiculous to start up the car for short journeys within the town – usually literally just round the corner. We also don’t have a drive, so driving also feels much less appealing if you know someone will nick your parking space while you’re out. So, if we’re doing something within the town, we always tend to walk and save the car for longer journeys. Because I have the bulk of my food shopping delivered, we don’t need to drive to the supermarket that often.
One big plus side to walking everywhere is that the boys are really good little walkers and have great stamina. Their scooters really speed things up too, and it’s great exercise too (as I know myself after trying to ride Gabriel’s scooter!). Of course, it’s less fun when it’s raining, but actually these days are few and far between. It’s also great exercise for me too! James also really relies on his daily cycle ride to and from the station for fitness.
But is this reason enough to stay living in a town? I’m not fundamentally opposed to driving, or anything like that – it’s just that it’s easier to walk everywhere at the moment. Although if I’m honest with myself I don’t particularly enjoy driving, mostly because I don’t practise enough. If we moved to a village, we could probably still walk to school (if there were places available for the children). And even if we lived in the middle of nowhere, they’d still be lots of opportunities for walking after school (probably in much prettier surroundings) or running round in a bigger garden – although I suspect in Winter this might be easier said than done!
We could still have shopping delivered too, but I think I’d miss pottering into town for a pint of milk or looking round the market. Again, though, this could be possible in the right village. Perhaps that’s the way I’m beginning to lean? A village with a school and a few shops. Then again, there aren’t many villages round here where you can walk to a railway station and be in London in an hour. Would I want to give that up even if I only do it about once a year? And I’m not sure James would be very keen to give up his cycling if it was no longer practical.
What do you think? Do you live in a village and still manage to do lots of walking, or do you rely on driving? Or perhaps you’re a dithering townie like me. I’d love to know what your experiences are.