You know that old tale The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse? Each mouse wants to try out each other’s lifestyle and see how the other half live. That was me, a country mouse that dreamed of the life of a town mouse…
I grew up living in a teeny, tiny village in the countryside with a small population, two churches, a couple of primary schools and post office… Chesham Bois really was small and adjacent towns Amersham and Chesham weren’t much bigger. However, London was only a short train journey away. As a child the capital seemed big, scary and overwhelming in comparison to my little village but we occasionally ventured into town for the museums, the theatre and to go to Hamley’s at Christmas.
As a teenager, London was an adventure, heading into town for shopping or to go to the bars and nightclubs but always with the pressure of having to catch the last train home. Being just a little country mouse, a trip to London was always so exciting, skyscrapers loomed above me, a diverse population surrounded and there was just so much to see and do. So different to small town Buckinghamshire – and one day I dreamed of living in the big smoke and having the lifestyle I saw. Not having to run for the last train and being able to experience something new every day.
University meant big changes and something new. My friends and I were bored of going to the same pubs in town every weekend and University was the chance for expanding our social circle, meeting new people and escaping country life. However, I wasn’t quite the town mouse yet. Going to University of Warwick meant our life was very much based in the campus in the first year and after moving out of halls I went to live in Leamington Spa. Ok, it was far from London but it was much bigger than my home town and so much more to do!
When I graduated from Warwick, I went to live in Leeds to do a master’s degree. Leeds was nothing near the scale of London but I found myself walking through the high street feeling overwhelmed by living in a city for the first time. But whilst it was scary for the Country Mouse, it was also exciting – for the first time I had a large choice of places to shop, things to do and most importantly – as a student – places to go out drinking. It was the first time I’d lived somewhere where I could go and party somewhere different everyday for a month. And I loved it!
But I always had in mind what my greatest adventure would be – finally moving to London. With my student days coming to an end it was time to face reality and finally the ultimate transition from Country Mouse to Town Mouse. I had my flat organised, and I was living with my best friend from secondary school…we moved in and it was time for the proper adulting to start. We’d used the tube before, but we were yet to have map indelibly marked in our memories as we do now, the bus network was baffling (they’d been one bus a day in our home town), walking was bewildering and we were definitely far too scared to drive. But as the years went on we got to fully understand London’s confusing transport links, we both got our first proper jobs, entered the culture of ‘afterwork drinks’ and soon the dating scene.
As the years went by my friend moved out and got married, different jobs meant new possibilities, and after five years of living in London I met Mr S and he and I moved in together and got married a year later. Now after ten years of living in the city I’m a fully fledged Londoner and Town Mouse. I know that I need to always stand on the left and mind the gap, how to pronounce Marylebone and which bars and clubs to avoid! Though after all this time living in London I’m still scared to drive…it’s those terrifying roundabouts!
When you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life…I’m pretty sure I’ll never regret embarking on my greatest adventure of all time…