I wake up when Peter puts my morning cuppa on the bedside table along with dog biscuits for Buddy and Layla. They snuffle noisily around the bed demanding that I sit up and give them their morning treat. On cold winter mornings, I’m loath to leave my bed cocoon. The house is like an ice-box so I stay in the comfort of the bedroom with its under-carpet heating for as long as possible. After their treat, the dogs curl up asleep on the bedroom floor, gently snoring. From my bed I can see the little seed-eaters jostling each other at the bird feeder and the francolins scratching about on the ground – there’s quite a flock of them that visit our garden now. I remember the excitement when I saw my first francolins in the garden; I spent hours watching and taking pictures of them. But I’ve become blasé and hardly pay them any attention.
Actually, I’ve become a bit nonchalant about country life in general, taking what I have here for granted, assuming it will never change. But the countryside is changing as more and more urban expats relocate to the country. Some, like me, want to leave the city behind to experience a slower, quieter pace of life; to live more simply and closer to nature. The dirt roads, the remoteness and the lack of shopping malls and plastic food are part of the appeal. Others seem to want to bring the city with them. Perhaps they’re not here out of choice or perhaps they fell in love with idea of living in the country but the reality turned out to be not so charming. So now they live in the country but want to have all the mod cons associated with city life. The irony, of course, is that the more “urbanised” it becomes, the less appealing it will be to all of us. Residential estates are replacing farms, electric fences break up the landscape and restrict the movement of people and game, land owners are moving workers off the land to prevent possible land claims, and a huge fast food outlet has just opened at the local petrol station. I can understand motorists wanting to grab a quick meal on their travels but the scale and variety of food on sale (15 different restaurants) indicates a local demand as well. Are locals that keen to buy convenience food? It saddens me but I understand that people have different needs. And it makes me wonder how long it will take before the first shopping mall opens in Nottingham Road. We’re on the slippery slope folks!
It’s made me realise that I shouldn’t take my country experience for granted, especially the wildlife that visits our property – in future, those francolins will not go unnoticed. What’s here today may not be here tomorrow and we need to appreciate what we have before its gone.