"So, I haven't seen you for ages! I heard you've shifted?!.......What do you mean to the country? Really? Like cows and grass and stuff?..... Oh.... well, good for you!"
I can see their brains doing facepalms. Why would she leave Auckland? Has she gone insane? Was she a closet hippy all along and I never knew? Was she exiled? Do they do that here? The only alternative response is from my closet hippy friends. "Oh wow, that's awesome! We've seen River Cottage! When is your harvest party? Will it be BYO bale? Have you made dandelion wine yet? Will we have to pluck chickens?"
I guess it's to be expected. Why would we move out of our gorgeous Kingsland townhouse? We were spoilt for choice with amazing cafes and restaurants a heart beat away, a huge, shiny shopping mall just down the road, all our friends and family no more than 25 minutes away, the choice of three supermarkets all within a 5 minute drive, not to mention a dairy across the road. And while we are extolling the virtues of city living, lets just give a shout out to a constant water supply, cell reception and sealed roads - these are things I absolutely took for granted!
But now, the neighbours are only just visible from our house, yet we share a cow and stood in a bathtub on their back lawn making pear cider over summer. We are pinching our pennies on one income but our dinners often look like they are straight out of Dish magazine, all thanks to our vegetable garden a few laying hens and some sacrificial porkers (thank you Gordon Hamsey and Rick Swine!). My sons get more entertainment from watching worms wriggle than they do from playing games on the iPad (and I'm not kidding, who knew a handful of worms would elicit two hours of hilarity!).
The Builder still commutes to Auckland for shift work. But each time he returns, driving up the motorway and through the tunnel he starts to relax. As the road opens up to the countryside he can feel himself unwind. And I think that's what happens to everyone when they finally find the right place to call home. It feels like you are on holiday each time you come down the drive. As long as you ignore the fencing that needs to be fixed and the blackberry that won't spray itself.
Don't get me wrong, I loved living in the city, and a lot of the things we are doing here can still be done in an urban environment. Maybe just not the cow. But my brother summed it up for me today when we were all sitting around having lunch. He said that things just taste better in the country. And he's right (as much as he'd love to hear that, and I hate to admit it!), it's the relaxed pace of life, the fact that you are surrounded by grass and hills and not much else, and that there is no other distractions. It's just about being with your family, eating well and appreciating what you do have and not worrying about what you don't.