I can't believe my naivety about the countryside when I first left London

·3-min read
"I believed I could make friends anywhere," admits Glass, "I hadn’t factored in being an outsider" - Jooney Woodward
"I believed I could make friends anywhere," admits Glass, "I hadn’t factored in being an outsider" - Jooney Woodward

Although it’s funny living among the hipster community of Frome’s industrial estate, when someone offers to let me pitch my caravan on their farm I jump at it – relocating from concrete to an orchard, beside sheep, where I hang bunting from damson trees like I’m glamping or doing a Temperley photo shoot. My new spot is so idyllic I am loathe to leave, but I’ve planned a week in Ireland with my friend Martin.

Driving from Somerset through Wales to the ferry at Pembroke, I realise it’s almost a year since I last made this journey. A year that reshaped my life. Back then, I’d just sold the east London flat that I’d shared with my fiancé, walked out on my relationship, a job, and a life I’d built in the city over two decades.

I drove to Ireland then, under the glowering Brecon Beacons, with no idea where I was heading. Now, following the same route, I know it well. I pass Abergavenny where I came to view houses. And remember how, further north in Snowdonia, I’d tried to buy my old childhood family home back – desperately searching for something…

I drove through Crickhowell on that first journey, took a room in a pub, drank a bottle of wine and panicked. Before leaving Somerset this time, I go for a run – feeling grounded by the thud of my feet on earth.

Looking back now I laugh at how naive I was when I left London. Assuming I could buy a house in the countryside in a few weeks – despite knowing nothing about surveys, listed buildings or what ‘living above the snowline’ means. Telling people I was ‘moving to the countryside’, but with no appreciation of how different every county, village and lane in the countryside is.

I had no idea back then about the crazy ‘locals vs outsiders’ war in Cornwall or that I’d find myself caught up in it. I naively believed I’d make friends easily anywhere. I hadn’t factored in being an outsider or how claustrophobic village life can be. Or that being somewhere where you know people – as I do in Somerset – is comforting, and valuable.

I never considered, when I tried moving to Land’s End, what the rural dating scene might be like or that my clichéd jokes about dating farmers might wind locals up.

In this past year I failed so much. I failed to buy two houses in Cornwall. And failed to start the new life I’d imagined for myself as a wannabe farmer on a desolate cliff.

Writing about my failures, I’ve been amazed by how people have responded – by the kindness of women who have called offering me rooms in their homes or pitches on their land, suggesting meeting for coffee, putting me in touch with their friends, writing emails about how they started again.

Now I drive towards Ireland feeling like a different woman. Then I was leaving a relationship in which I felt scared and alone – and a job where I felt under-appreciated. It took me a year to relearn to value myself. To take pride in my resilience and independence. To find my own happiness.

A year ago, I ran to Ireland panicking. Now I am only anxious about getting back to Somerset. To drink cider at the Sheppey and see exhibitions at Hauser & Wirth. To hang out with L and F on the farm, and have dinner with R in Bath. To complete on my house. And to spend time with Alex – someone who I haven’t even told you about yet…

You can read Katie Glass's column, What Katie did next, every Saturday from 6am on telegraph.co.uk

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