by Nat Aubry
10 years ago we moved to Hertfordshire, a couple of weeks before our wedding. We sold a flat in London and packed one in Amsterdam to move in together before the big day. I did not move by choice, Marc got a job offer in Luton when no one else was really hiring in the UK in the aftermath of the financial crisis at the time, and we could not make the commute work for him.
I requested a tube station, hanging on to the idea of still feeling like a Londoner and being able to see my friends easily, and I did not feel I could go from hippie Greenwich to Luton without a stop gap in the middle. We settled for Harpenden, after being quite disappointed by the busier St Albans. Instead of a tube station, I got a tramline to London walking distance from our house.
I was in denial about living in the countryside for a couple of years. I would stay late at work – which was fairly easy as we had so much work; and meet my friends in London before taking the train back home. People kept telling me that I would be glad to have moved once I got kids. I was not convinced. There was everything in London and the countryside was boring.
Forward 10 years, we are celebrating our wedding anniversary today and every day you can hear me say that I am really glad not to be in London. I am pretty sure I am not the only one. Country walks and the varied scenery around us has helped us again and again during lockdown. And not just because we now have children (like everyone predicted) but because I needed to see green, different landscapes and reflect on natural beauty as well, and helped me being present.
It is easy to think of all the things we are missing during lockdown – I have a long list, the main one is not being able to go back to France, my home country and seeing my family. It is tough. You had homeschooling and working to the mix, and your head get overwhelmed by 10 am, and you are not even half way through your day.
When the tears are welling up – and not just the children ones – you know it is a good cue for a walk.
Our best investment is the IOS map of our area. It helped us finding paths without many people, which makes it easier with a 3yo who does not believe in social distancing, but also using (or teaching) useful skills like map reading, recognising wild flowers and appreciating the transient nature of time.
Finally and more obviously doing some form exercise, when all other activities have stopped – and that is even the daily walks to school – and benefit from the happy endorphins, and get back into your 10,000 steps a day.