Alexander Averin

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Another Day in Paradise?

Phil Collins
Another Day in Paradise

Dear Diary,

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That's how the light gets in.
~Leonard Cohen

Before I start I had better say that this is not a 'complaining' blog. How could I complain about living where and how I do? And watching the Phil Collins video brings its all home. (Dear Phil, he used to be a neighbour of mine when we both lived in the same Sussex village).

Let's face it, to have a roof over our heads makes us lucky when so many in the world are starving and/or homeless. My own mother was an Irish immigrant, pregnant and homeless in London in the 1950's, so I have every sympathy for those who need shelter. The following words are just to show the 'downsides' of life in rural Wales and to illustrate how:

‘Nothing is perfect

My son-in-law said that to me once and the words have stayed with me. This phrase can be applied to everything in life I guess.

My son-in-law is very bright and very wise - well he chose my daughter didn’t he? My daughter is also very bright and very wise so they make the perfect couple.

I digress.

My previous blog post was full of much lyrical waxing, so much so that it seemed to inspire envy from those who would like to live here in the ‘happiest part of the UK’.

Well here and now I am going to redress the balance somewhat. It may be because it feels like winter today, for as I look out of the cottage windows there is a gale blowing and the rain is blowing horizontally across the field. Anyway here are the downsides of life in rural Wales.

The jobs are few and far between and very low paid. It is/was the lowest paid county in the UK. Career opportunities are so poor that most young folk have to leave the area to find work.

The cost of living is high because of the above and also petrol prices are higher than most places in the ‘Otherworld’.

We have no big supermarkets and therefore spend more on our basics than those who do.

Public transport is practically non-existent and what there is doesn’t run often enough or at times that would link in with people’s work/social lives.

You could not live here without a car (unless you used taxis all the time).

Travelling time. You will use/waste a lot of this in order to do anything. My dentist for example is 45 minutes away and he is private (no chance of finding an NHS one). Hospital appointments, or visiting loved ones who are ill, God knows how people without a car or enough money manage this one.

The climate – this one doesn’t usually bother me but this summer has been exceptionally poor. The only consolation is that it has been poor everywhere.

The growing season is short up here in the hills, the temperatures are lower than elsewhere.

There is a dearth of shops. This is an advantage sometimes as one is not tempted to spend money. But it’s difficult to plan meals and you need to because you can’t just pop out to get whatever ingredient you need for a recipe you fancy. Because you have to travel miles for ANYTHING you soon learn to stock up well when you do go shopping (yeah, yeah, who am I kidding here?).

It is miles to an A & E. We have NO county hospital and of late the Air Ambulance (God bless them) has been employed on more occasions than it used to, all funded by local people too.

We are plagued by berludy motorcyclists every weekend who treat our roads as a racetrack. They honestly scare us.

Do they get caught?


Guess who saves them (sometimes)? Our dear Air Ambulance.

If we creep over 30 mph in a 30- limit do we get caught?

You betcha.

Low flying jets regularly scare us (and the animals). It’s sometimes like living in a war-zone.

Mobile phone reception is nil in a lot of areas (including my area). Ditto TV reception, thank God for digital.

Broadband speeds? Don’t ask. (Mine is 1.1 Mbs). If you can get it you are lucky, some folk still can’t, imagine - in this day and age.

Anonymity? Be prepared to lose that if you move to the area. Everyone knows everyone and gossip can and does get ‘distorted' shall we say?

The flipside of this of course is the wonderful sense of community that exists but let’s not venture back into the world of advantages here.

We lack a diversity of cultures, we see the same old faces (and a few young ones). It’s easy to see the risk of becoming ‘insular’.

Tourists too can irritate some folk though they shouldn’t as they are contributing to one of the main sources of income in the area.

And speaking personally now. We have no central heating, coal has gone up to £16 a bag! Calor gas prices have also rocketed and logs will be next I expect.

I had better stop now. I can’t think of anything else to be honest.

A future post had better be on the advantages of life here. I promise that will be a LONG one, honest……

But really, in every aspect of life, if you sit down and think about it, you can always weed out the negatives, it’s all a matter of perception. It’s best to just concentrate on the positives and always remember what my dear son-in-law says:

'Nothing is perfect'……………


Debs said...

No, I suppose nothing is perfect, but it could be worse.

I still think it sounds gorgeous where you live.


ChrisH said...

Oh Cait, that's so true! I sometimes look at the job pages in the local paper... and there are no pages let alone jobs, food and fuel have gone through the roof and I'm 30 miles from am A & E. Yet the years in Wales have been some of the happiest of my life... so I can't really complain.

Kaycie said...

Honestly, what you describe sounds remarkably similar to the rural area of Oklahoma where I spent my childhood. I think to a certain extent small places are much the same.

I have to say, though, I don't miss that small town lifestyle. I might go back to it for the views you have, though.

Kaycie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I enjoyed readng this, and the last post as well. I think sometimes it is easy to fall in love with a place and want to live there, without really knowing what that means. We have friends on the Isle of Skye, which is assuredly a most impressive place, and they tell us that every year someone visits (usually from the States, I fear) and decides to relocate. After a few months of winter winds, and other things, the house invariably goes up for sale. No doubt, the grass always seems greener on the other side of the fence.

Here we are struggling with the problem of health care. It is good, but it is expensive and there are so many without insurance, which can be dreadully outside of reason when it comes to price. I happen to think that everyone deserves health care, and that no one should be denied because of inability to pay. But, believe me, not everyone agrees here,and changing a system that has made so many people rich, will not be easy. It is an interesting, and often mind-boggling, election year.

Leonard's words are, once again, wise and true. And nothing, or no place, is perfect.

willow said...

I agree with Pamela! Our health care system is totally out of whack. My husband works for himself and we can't always afford the $1000 per month for health insurance. It's awful.

90 degrees right now and the sun has just set. I could use some of your cool temps right now. Everythings relative, I guess.

Preseli Mags said...

Your 'paradise' sounds exactly like mine. My main bugbear at the moment is that it takes so long to get anywhere and petrol is so expensive round here too. And I know what you mean about those bloomin' motorcyclists...!

Tea and Margaritas in My Garden said...

I love that song. It`s so true and so very heartbreaking. Always makes me grateful for what I have. We also have slow internet. Dial up but slower than even it should be due to our area and we put up with it because satellite so expensive.
You`re still in a lovely place :)


Frances said...

Cait, I really enjoyed reading this "full disclosure" post.

The realities of paradise are much as I would have expected. I think that there are many places in my large country that are similar in their access to various amenities ... like food and medical care! However, they don't have your beautiful landscape.

Also think that there might be more poetry in the air round where you live.


laurie said...

yep, i'm with kaycie: rural problems are similiar all over the world. varying degrees, obviously. but the distances, the expense, the isolation without the privacy..

not sure what chased you into this funk today. maybe the distinct feeling of seasons changing? but i hope you feel more even keeled soon.

(want me to list the disadvantages of big city life? crime? smog? congestion? small yards? terrible traffic? long lines? distance (as in sprawl)? ....)

Pondside said...

Cait, it's good to say what 'is' every once and awhile. You're right - nothing is perfect, we just make the best of what is and, like you do, usually look on the bright side.
Much of what you wrote could have been written about where I live. I chuckled when you mentionned te motorcycles - we live in an area in which the roads are merely logging roads, paved over. Every weekend the roar and screech of the bikes is terrible, and every weekend we can hear the ambulance.
Would I move? Not on your life.

bradan said...

Sounds just like here, Cait. We have even started to get bikers now, but we haven't got Broadband yet.


Cait, such a well balanced view of your life in Wales. Thanks for sharing TFx

Withy Brook said...

You could say almost all of that about our beautiful Northumberland too. Even the motorbikes, though not exactly where we are. The ambulance gets heard though!

DJ Kirkby said...

I am not sure that I like the idea of a lot of the things you mentioned in your blog, no central heating and nosey neighbors esp!

Cait O'Connor said...

We have no nosey neighbours DJ, in fact we have the best neighbours in the world. I was just speaking 'generally'.

elizabethm said...

WEll i recognise all this too although we are not quite as isolated as you are. Wouldnt swap it though although today with the horizontal rain i wouldn't have said no to an afternoon in a nice warm gallery with a coffee afterwards!

CAMILLA said...

Dear Cait,

Agree, nothing is perfect as you say, we have bikers zoom past cottage sometimes at great speed, and it was my HL who rang the council to complain that someone, or animal might get killed one day because of it. It was then the 30 mile redestriction signs were set up, and did the cars or bikers take any notice, no sireeeee.!