The Perfect Place to Live

As I go running most days, I am aware of subtle changes around me, depending on the time of year. At the moment it is the ever increasing signs of Spring, primroses in grassy banks, the green fuzz of buds on the trees, lambs their fleeces smudged with red or blue numbers and also the growing number of houses up for sale.

Of course this is traditionally the best time for marketing your house, you’ve probably given it a Spring clean, tidied up the garden and done a bit of DIY and your mind turns to pastures new. But where should that be? A lot depends on your circumstances and
budget, but for me, and I’m biased, the ideal family friendly place is
a small market town.

When we moved here in 1982, our market town was only slightly bigger than the village in Cheshire where I’d grown up. We originally started looking at villages in this area, but I soon came to realise that with two small boys, no second car and a husband that worked late and was away a lot, this was not a sensible or practical option. We turned our attention to bigger places and finally settled on Buckingham.

We ended up in a new house, at the end of a cul-de-sac, about three quarters of a mile from shops and schools. For me it was perfect, the children could play safely outside without the worry of traffic. The town ‘centre’ was within easy walking distance, and despite having to push the pram up a steep hill to get back home again, it was a walk I did daily for the next twenty years!

Of course, there were, and still are, drawbacks. The nearest ‘big shops’ are thirteen miles away in Milton Keynes, we have no cinema, Starbucks or Costa, no Nandos, no bowling alley, skating rink or night life. We have a leisure centre now, instead of the open air swimming pool (which has been replaced by a skateboarding park), though I’m not sure if that is an improvement! However, there were playgroups which I joined to get to know people as all our family was over two hours drive away. Walking to the shops meant someone was always around to talk to, either on the journey, or in the shops themselves. When they were old enough, all the children (I had two more after we’d been here a few years!) could walk to school alone, go the park just across the road and even to the shops. When they were older teenagers, it was a bit more problematic, there isn’t much for them to do in town, although teenagers seem to say that wherever they live! Having no car meant relying on friend’s parents to give them lifts, or having friends staying here. Once they could drive and got their own cars that problem was solved.

Now all my four have grown up and left home, I feel that I should now be looking to move somewhere else. It would be nice to have theatres, cinemas, museums and cafes on the doorstep, but I would miss the friendliness of people. Walking into town and always passing someone who knows me, the shopkeepers knowing my name. The lady at the library asking after the children, the butcher knowing the cuts of meat I like, neighbours waving to me when I’m out running, or asking if I’m doing the London marathon this year
Trouble is, the house is a bit too large now and I’m thinking that perhaps we should downsize and let another young family enjoy living here instead!


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