Giving up the irreplaceable

The Cotswolds look beautiful in the rain. Welsh towns with their grey stone, look grey. Warm cosy buttercream stone. Dark monotonous depressing grey. Colour holds such power over mood. We may buy in Monmouthshire or Gloucestershire, we can’t make that decision. We like villages on both sides of the Wye between Monmouth and Chepstow. We’re at the very beginning of our relationship with the Wye Valley. Only just getting a feel for the villages, learning the landscape, taking in its distinctive character, as we make it home in our heads, replacing this Cotswold home, so familiar it feels within us, beneath our skin. We love it here. If we could afford the life we long for here in this very village, we would never have considered moving house. It’s been four weeks since the valuation on our house kicked all this talk of relocation off. I quickly detatched myself emotionally from the actual house, but I’m getting twinges and pangs of sorrow and guilt, I’m getting cold feet and having second thoughts when I’m out in our garden, and when I’m out on the pavement in front of the house, walking into the village centre. It’s not that I’m not sure I want to move, it’s that I know what it is we are giving up. Ben calls where we live the promised land. The weather always seems better here than anywhere we are driving from or to in the country. A week hasn’t gone by in the three years we’ve been in this house that we haven’t gushed to each other about how we’ve got everything here, how it is the perfect place to live. We must be mad to be giving it up. We are already living the dream, if the dream is an idyllic setting, idyllic surroundings, and an idyllic lifestyle on your doorstep and on offer all around you. It would be perfect if we had the cash to enjoy that lifestyle. But we’re in the Cotswolds on a Midlands budget. We didn’t move here with London riches. We can’t afford to ever become a real part of the Cotswolds life, it’s just beyond our means. It sure is beautiful to look at though. So we’re moving, so we can be fatter, happier fish in a smaller pond. We are gaining more than we are losing in every way. We are moving from one AONB to another, and centreing our property search around a superior tourist destination. We are gaining glorious forest and a dramatic valley with stunning views. While our first impression driving though the forest and then down the Wye was of a lived in, modest, but cute place to live, the further down the Wye we drove the wow factor we had been missing came into view. It reminded us of holidays in France. It was a really exciting and impressive wooded, carving valley to behold. And then as our online property search continued we seemed to have found what might turn out to be a miniature Cotswolds! Oh happy! We have been spoiled by living here, and would miss the pride living in a well-to-do, gentrified cluster of villages imbues. Just walking down the street here is a joy. Owning a house here makes you feel like you’ve arrived in life. We don’t want to give that up. The reality of the move hit us on that first recon trip a week ago. The Forest of Dean was no Cotswolds. Could our lives ever live up to what we’ve come to enjoy here? But we don’t want the Forest or the Wye to be a Cotswold substitute. We want to revel in the differences and embrace our new identity in a new exciting place distinctive from everywhere else in the UK. We will be close enough to return to the Cotswolds, often, as tourists, with money. Then we can really live that Cotswold lifestyle. And so much of what we love about our lives here, we can take with us. I’m still letting go. The Welsh Wye is my mistress. As yet I’m still married to The Cotswolds.

~Jen

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