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Rant on rural escapes - Penelope Hicks

Blog | By Penelope Hicks | Jan 08, 2024

Penelope Hicks does not want to escape to the country

Why does everyone talk about ‘escaping to the country’?

Those of us who choose to live in towns and cities are irritated by the suggestion that we are prisoners longing to ‘escape’ to the country. What arrogance! I live in central London and did so while I and my husband happily raised our four children. When my husband died, I had no intention of moving.

After 50-odd years in central London, we had many friends nearby. I love it when I bump into a friend and one of us will say, ‘Let’s have a cuppa.’ We’ll head into the nearest coffee shop, sit there in comfort and chatter. Not so easy in the country, if there is no café in your village.

Sadly, towards the end of his life, my husband had health problems which meant visits to a major hospital. Ten minutes in a taxi delivered us straight there. But what happens when one is unexpectedly kept in a country hospital? Does one’s partner drive for hours back and forth to visit the patient, or stay in a nearby B&B or hotel? And if so, who cares for the pets left at home?

Obviously, life for country-dwellers has a plus side. More space, fine views, maybe a garden, and country lanes for walking the dog – but it simply wasn’t our choice.

It’s not just in real life that the country is preferred to the town. In Aesop’s Fables, the Country Mouse is the one who triumphs. Although the Town Mouse enjoys better food, it has to face the threat of the cat. It’s all very charming but also very predictable. Londoners today don’t fear danger from cats – we might have to dodge large red buses, but that’s a different problem.

So I remain a Town Mouse and not a Country Mouse. Of course country life suits many people, but why should they smugly show a sense of superiority towards those who prefer town life?