My husband, Tom and I met when I was 27. I lived in London and he lived in Somerset. I never imagined in a million years that I would end up living in the countryside, with tractors driving past instead of police cars and wellies as my change-into-footwear over a pair of heels. The excitement was the start of a new life. I didn’t have anything terrible to leave behind but I did feel that I wasn’t in charge of my own destiny and that London seemed to be carrying me from one stop to the next. I was leaving because I chose to. A few people thought I would be bored out of my mind, a few people didn’t get it and others probably thought I was giving my life up for a man, but interestingly, everyone looked forward to being able to visit ‘their friend in the countryside!’
It’s been a complete whirlwind since the early days of opening Caro as a little stall at the Bruton Christmas fair. It’s been so hard at times - I did’t have any friends when I moved here, and the lack of autonomy with being a shopkeeper was a strange thing to get used to. The mixture of not having anyone to confide in and the feeling that everyone was talking about this new girl opening a ‘lifestyle’ shop provoked me to close-off a bit - a behaviour that is not my default.
It took me about 3 years to settle and get to grips with the way of living here. Now though, I can honestly say I wouldn’t move back to London. I often visit and as much as I love going, I love the security of knowing I’m leaving. There’s a point on the A303 when my heart opens as I see the sun setting over the rolling hills. It’s sounds sickly but it’s true.
I was lucky that Tom lived in a town down the road from Bruton which meant I knew it well from visiting over the 6 years before I moved here. If I was to be moving to Somerset, I said to him, we’re living in Bruton. This was before Hauser & Wirth opened so it wasn’t on it’s way to gentrification at that stage but the people seemed creative and interesting - inspiring the idea to open a shop. And anyway, At the Chapel had everything I needed to make me feel I wasn’t completely alone.
I’ve loved the slow act of making a home; Discovering how we all live together as our family grows (It’s finished growing now!) On the other hand, I am useless at growing a garden but was saved by landscape gardener, Jenny Hyden who developed a garden for us that is abundant but needs pretty much zero care. We also have an allotment a 10 minute walk away which we experiment with growing vegetables. I say experiment because most of the time we’re pulling weeds rather than a bounty of vegetables. I feel very lucky to have outside space to enjoy a bit of alfresco dining though. My next project is to get some pots going in the courtyard.
Tom and I have often fantasised about living in another country but Bruton is making it hard to leave!
TIPS FOR MOVING OUT OF LONDON
- How remote do you really want to be? Often the fantasy isn’t the reality. Do you mind getting in the car if you suddenly realise you need something from the shops?
- Do you want to be able to go out for dinner and not have to worry about getting home? Cabs are expensive and very hard to guarantee in the countryside. THERE IS NOT UBER
- Do you like a gym? Do your research into your nearest location as good gyms are seriously hard to find.
- Do you want a house you can move into or a renovation? If it’s a project you’re after, watch out for the Grade Listings - Grade I Listed means you can’t touch the inside or outside of the building, Grade II listed means you can play around with parts of the interiors but not the exterior.
- Building Contractors are hard to come by and often have waiting lists for 6-12 months.
- What is the community like? If you’re looking to make friends, are there events happening? Exhibitions, talks… Are local businesses offering any event programmes you can tap into?
- What clan are you looking for? Have a couple of meals in the pubs, cafe and restaurants to try and glean whether they’re your kind of people.
- How quickly do you need to get to London or another city to get that fix? Is there good train links and what times to the trains go!