I left London 1 year and 5 days ago on Friday 13th April 2012. Now apparently I live in the depths of Mid-Wales, in the woods overlooking the Dyfi estuary – perfection qualified slightly by the postage stamp size view I have of the sea, and the ongoing battle with mice in the beautifully crumbling, freezing wing of an old hunting lodge that I live in.
I live in a cluster of houses so I’m getting to practice rural idyll with neighbours, with two particularly special mentions going to Corrine and Daniel who have been the kindest of support in this strange experiment I’ve embarked on. I have a couch grass infested but gorgeous corner of the walled garden to grow veg in, my shopping list now includes both olive and chainsaw oil and I got an axe for Christmas. In 370 days I have completely changed my world.
I had intended to tiptoe into the local community in a cautious Londoner kind of way, but seem to have parachuted directly into the epicentre of my local village by becoming one of the managers of the new community run village shop and café. It’s a little unsettling having life and work so closely intertwined, London allows community but its scale also permits anonymity. One of the realisations of the past year has been that I’m not happiest when independent and flying solo but rather when part of something communal. There’s nothing more inspiring than a common mission be it work or play or ideally both at the same time…
I spent Tuesday in the shop loading in our first order (we open in just over 2 weeks) and discussing local suppliers. When I left I turned left out of the forecourt rather than right to go home, the day was too fresh and smelt too good not to go to the beach. Ynyslas, the most stunning beach is 10 mins from my home, so I walked and sat for an hour and mulled and felt good about this curious journey I’m on.
I don’t know if I’m undermining myself by still calling this part of a transitional experiment but it’s hard to attach to a place when you arrive on your own. It takes longer to create your own niche. Machynlleth and the surrounding area is pretty exceptional though, there’s a feisty, fun, proactive crowd here, I think it’s probably easier to start out here than in many places.
I think you belong somewhere not when you have a place to live and a routine, but when you form strong connections. There are lovely people here but it takes time to form close bonds; I didn’t miss London when I last visited but I was really sad to leave my nearest and dearest. That said I have a thank you for my grandmother who I chatted to on Tuesday while lying in the sand dunes. I miss her and she misses me but she’s been nothing but full of joy and support acknowledging it as my adventure rather than my departure.