Country Lifestyle

Move out of London to find a better life for you and your family, it is what your move is all about. Getting a better home is one thing, but getting a better life with a huge range of different and rewarding ways to spend your time is the real and lasting benefit of switching from London to the country.

Having a more spacious home and garden gives scope for an assortment of activities like keeping animals, growing plants, ball games of all kinds, picnics, camp outs, bonfires, berry picking ... If you have children, there will be space for swings, trampolines, dens or even a zip wire. If you fancy it tennis courts, a pool, stables, a pond or stream are all possibilities. Use your imagination and the list of things you can do just gets longer and longer. Perhaps you would just like relaxing in a lounger!

apple girlYoga girlsenior joggersHowever idyllic, no one will want to spend all their free time at home and your local community and countryside will have lots to tempt you out. 


Eat & Drink

Much of what goes on in the country is food related. Although agriculture is not the main rural employer in our modern world, more physical space and acreage is devoted to the raising and production of our food than anything else, and the countryside is where it all happens.

tomato bucketGarden womanpicnic basket


Real farmers markets come to most towns and many villages, some as often as weekly. Always popular it is pleasant to have a browse and come away with perhaps a few vegetables or a home-made cake. There is the potential to get organised, shop regularly and make a significant difference to the carbon footprint of the family meal table.

Many of the smaller towns still hold regular markets which are deeply imbedded in the town’s history and origins and are well worth visiting for their quality and atmosphere. Much more than a bit of fruit and veg, these days you may find speciality breads and pastries, local cheeses, seafood, meats, dried flowers, carpentry, local painters work .... Every market is different.

Some producers will have their own farm shop, often selling other locally sourced goods as well as their own. So a vineyard may sell cheeses, hams, honey, pickles and apple juice as well as their own wines and ciders.

Asparagus bunchesOther farms grow a seasonal product and will put out the signs and open up a shed when their goods are ripe. Some sellers will even have an honesty box, we found this unbelievable when first discovered, but it works perfectly well.

Some farms will sell direct by taking phone orders. If you have space for a big freezer, a whole or half lamb, ready jointed, is a great bargain. Pork, game and the Christmas turkey can all be bought in this way and you know your meat is free range when you have seen the animals grazing.

Most towns and larger villages will have a proper greengrocers and a butchers too, so give the supermarket a miss whenever you can. 

gastro burgerRegional food & drink festivals are increasingly popular events, some have been held for years. Others are more recent developments, increasing in range and variety as our passion for home produce has gained momentum. These may be fairly small tastings hosted by one of the producers or can be festivals over several days with food, drink, music and entertainment pervading the whole town or village.

Sourcing locally is an unbeatable way to buy. Everyone’s list of favourites will be different. Some of ours are asparagus, cherries, strawberries, scallops, pear juice, sausages flavoured with hops, soft cheese, pink fir apple potatoes, goose eggs and firewood.

The Gastro Pub, a phenomenon that has taken the whole country by storm in the last decade or so, has its home and origins in the counties we cover. Inspirational use of regional and seasonal ingredients combined with a mellow and comfortable environment make for a perfect night out. In most areas there will be a choice of establishments all vying for your business.

Play, Listen, Dance…

Live music always brings people together and you can find every sort in the country.

Violin playerPopular music is well represented it may be a local band in a country pub or playing at a village fare or festival.

Mainstream headline acts appear at open air concerts throughout the summer. These events give people the chance to see a current band or performer in a convenient place and are often more family orientated than the major music festivals. Events such as the Forestry Commission ‘Forest Live’ are hugely popular.

Smaller scale music festivals are organised throughout the counties. An event local to us is a great camp-out-come-party hosted on farmland with all the profits going to a children’s hospice it has such a great friendly and positive atmosphere with good music too.

Folk music is to be found in festivals with appeal to all for their gentle charm. Even if folk music is ‘not your thing’ these events are very enjoyable. If folk music is your thing, even better, as you will find some of the best musicians touring the country festivals. Festivals range in size from a one day, single venue events such as ‘Folk by the Oak’ at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire to the world renown four day multi-venue ‘Cambridge Folk Festival’, held in early August.

Many classical music recitals are held in country areas too, often making use of the wonderful acoustics of our churches and other heritage buildings. You may find ensembles, choirs, string or piano concertos in delightful surroundings. Some of the top independent schools will play host to important touring artists with tickets for the performance available to all. Such events are kudos for the school and a benefit to you if you live locally. 

Opera in the open air, perhaps amongst abbey ruins or with a castle backdrop, is a great way to experience this art form and a particularly good introduction for younger people or those who thought this was just ‘not for me’. Pack a picnic and enjoy the evening.


All kinds of sports play a huge part in country living. You only have to take a look about you to see that those living in the country appear to have higher levels of good health and fitness than their city dwelling contemporaries.

fishing, dad & sonarcheryCounty pursuits


Team sports are well represented often with junior, adult and veterans teams. If your nearest village or town does not have a team who play your game, you can be sure that another place nearby will do. Football, Rugby, Cricket and Hockey are all well represented and welcome girls as players in mixed or girls teams alongside the boys. Aside from the fitness, skill development and fun, there is a social aspect to club membership for both the players and their families. If you love your sport but might not want to play competitively, become a coach for the youth team and give something back to the game.

Racquet sports are well catered for and you may well find your village, or one nearby, has Tennis courts or a Squash or Badminton club. You might have to drive to your game but there will be no traffic, no parking problems and no long waiting list to get on a court. Most clubs have coaching for juniors or for adults who have perhaps found London life has let their serve get rusty. It's a great way to meet people. Some schools, both state and private, will open their facilities to parents and locals on summer weekends and during holidays. Many organise friendly family competitions too.

Gym membership is generally much cheaper than in London, ranging from leisure centres for all to the private gym. The spa facilities of country house hotels often offer membership programmes for locals who can take advantage of their guest facilities at excellent rates.

Charity walks, runs and triathlon events are prolific in many areas and a great way to get together with others, support a cause that matters to you and raise your fitness levels at the same time.

There will be lots of choice for dog walkers and many dog friendly places (and friendly dogs rather than unhappy inner-city mutts) with lovely places to go your trudging 'the same old park and pavements' is a thing of the past.

Running clubs for all sorts of ages and abilities can be found and cycle clubs have become very popular. Some are started up by a note in the newsagents window or the Parish magazine whilst others may be more formal and competitive.

Fitness is a constantly changing business with new ideas and inovations becoming very popular. We find all the current trends filter through very quickly so, if you are looking for Cross Fit, bootcamps, interval training or the next 'must do' method, it can all be found in the regions that we cover along with the more traditional methods of keeping fit.

Golf ball flyingGolf clubs of all sorts abound from those offering kid’s lessons, practice ranges and pay-and-play for all abilities, right up to the very best pro-designed, exclusive membership multi-course clubs and world-class links courses.

Classic country pursuits might be of interest. Hunting, shooting, working dogs or fishing perhaps - from fly fishing for tasty trout in lakes or reservoirs to hooking a carp in your own garden pond.
For those lucky enough to find a spot on or near the coast, river or reservoir, all the water activities are waiting. Sailing, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, sea angling, swimming, beach combing, kite surfing or just taking in the air and watching others at it.

For those with riding as their passion, the country is definitely the place to be. For non-owners lessons are readily available in most parts and are much more affordable. For owners, properties with on-site stables are not hard to find or there will be local livery stables offering anything from dry hire to full service.

There really is a huge range of active and sporting stuff to do in the country – we simply have more space for everything.

Village Life…

villageMany of the larger villages and small towns have a lot to offer. A mini high street will have a selection of shops. There is perhaps a greengrocer and butcher, gifts or antique shops, hairdressers, at least one tea shop and a couple of take-aways, fashion shops, florist, pharmacy, pet shop and maybe a specialist art gallery and picture framers. Even if your village is a tiny one – a pub, Church, one shop and a primary school - there will be plenty of things going on and a variety of clubs and societies with all the details in the Parish magazine.
(Incidentally the ‘Parish Mag’ is a reliable place to look if you are after local trades - whether it is someone to fix the dishwasher, trim the hedges or deliver logs for the woodburner, an Ad in the Mag will find you an established local)

If you have opted for a truly rural spot, your nearest village is perhaps simply where your children go to school or where you stop to pick up a newspaper and some essentials.  Further involvement in village life is optional and indeed some families moving to the country prefer to keep to themselves and just enjoy the scenery. But, there is a much more available if desired.

All but the tiniest of hamlets will have a village hall. In many larger villages these have been updated or rebuilt in recent years, many with ‘millennium fund’ money. Some are rather delightful spaces, well designed with good lighting and heating and sprung wood floors. Anything and everything from baby yoga to stand-up comedy or Cinema screenings goes on here.

All villages have an annual Village Fair. These are most often Summer events and may be held any weekend from May to September. Some with a history dating back hundreds of years, they either welcome the Spring, celebrate Summer or bless the harvest. You will find good old fashioned games such as wellie-throwing, traditional stalls like the coconut shy, there will always be a raffle and a tombola or two, home-made cakes for sale, a plant stall and local producers of anything from wine to vegetables. There might even be a light hearted dog show, pony rides, classic cars, steam engines, a celebrity or two... Nothing to beat it if you are in the right mood and the weather is kind.

Social and fund raisers for the local Church or schools add to the regular roster of events, but it does not stop at that. There will be boot fairs, car shows, art festivals, antique and collectors fairs, flower shows, bake-offs, scout troops, ploughing matches, book clubs, ecology groups, archaeology, local history, charitable groups, local politics and so much more. The list goes on, so get as involved as you wish.

Heritage and Nature ...

HighclereDonnington Castle, BerkshireLavenham, Suffolk

Rural England is the most wonderful place to feel immersed in our heritage whether it is the rolling view of fields and hedgerows, a Norman castle atop a hill, medieval farm buildings or an ancient market square.  There are National Trust and English Heritage properties to visit as well as independently managed historic houses and castles.  Perhaps your village street, it's pub and church, hold just as much charm.Places that have evolved slowly in the contours of the land are so much more pleasant to live in and this gentle beauty lifts the spirits. 

Opportunities to experience nature and our native wildlife, flora and fauna are limitless.  So be inspired and be calmed.  Nurture your new environment with conservation and ecology or simply appreciate its bounty.

Woodland sunsetBodiamswansWalled GardenBadgerKingfisher