An experienced Summer…

Apologies for being absent from quite a while, but it has been a busy Summer, with plenty of travelling, plans for the future, methodical moments of deep thinking and getting ready for the winter months.

We truly had a fantastic Summer this year… the sunshine kept us company throughout the warmer months, and only that made much easier the search for a future destination.

We explored various places in Hertfordshire, North and South, the beautiful countryside of the Cotswolds and to complete the list we had to go back to one of our favourite place: the Lake District.

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England, Cumbria, Lake District, Lake Ullswater, Glenridding, August 2018

Every time I spend time at The Lakes, something magical happens. Almost like an internal spiritual shift to another kind of dimension, where nothing else matter… but just you and the Natural surrounding. Being there it truly makes you wonder about the meaning of your entire existence. It is almost like if you come into contact with your deepest self, and you feel safe to BE the most authentic You.

No masks, no filters, no need to hide…  Nature has such a power to touch your deepest place. And if you are ready, you will gain the most magical experience you will ever have. You just have to be open to it, to receive its blessing, observing and listening in silence.

Be prepared to come in contact with your deepest fears, your doubts… but also to your most authentic hidden self, your pure and untouched essence. Walking in Nature is good for the Soul, for the Body and for the Mind in many ways… it will make you grow spiritually, experience after experience… It is a very methodical active way to observe, perceive, and fully opening your senses to the outer world, in order to understand and to discover more about your inner world.

The English countryside is very special, but the Lake District goes far beyond that… it is a truly magical place, the quintessential of the Englishness of things, Paradise on Earth.

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 England, Cumbria, Lake District, Grizedale Forest , August 2018

“The clearest way into the Universe is through a Forest Wilderness” – John Muir

A step forward… decision made!

After few months of thorough searching, reading, thinking, discussing, exchanging info and opinions the decision that was causing me sleepless nights has been finally made… We are staying in England! Yayyy… And hopefully opt very soon for the so much loved English countryside! I am extremely happy of this decision, mainly because is what my heart longed for… and I have started to finally sleep properly again!

It has been a tough few months, putting on paper all the pro and cons of both countries, and trying to visualize what our lives would be in these two different environments considering everything, including also the various possibilities available.

Like I said in a previous post Italy is such a beautiful country, probably one of the most beautiful country in the world, for its history, art, food, etc. And on top of everything it is my home country, where all my family and friends are. But although its infinite beauty and my emotional connections to it, Italy is not enough… Beauty is not just its strong point, as it is also very well known for its corruption and political disasters, and the present situation is very unsettling and not very promising for the brighter future I was hoping for. Probably it will never be! Sometimes I wish I wasn’t Italian, so that I could be able to appreciate Italy with the eyes of a foreigner, focusing only on the bright side. But unfortunately I am also very familiar with its true dark side…

In my opinion, England is far more ‘civilized’, at least on the appearance; but the main thing that pushed our decision into staying, is that here you have POSSIBILITIES. Possibility to work, to study, to become a better person, to open your own business, without being exploited by a corrupted government. You have the possibility of confronting yourself with other cultures and to grow together, where the diversity is celebrated. You have freedom of expression, possibilities to become who you want to be, develop your skills and your experiences and finding a job that you like, where you feel rewarded and appreciated.

In Italy does not exist meritocracy, does not exist the concept of community and living in harmony together, supporting each other. Does not exist honesty, equality and tolerance, especially in present days! It’s a culture based on aesthetical appearances, on superficiality and gossiping, on following the crowd just because the media say so. And unfortunately those minority of people who truly are hardworking and have idealistic dreams, those who want to live a quite life in simplicity and honesty, are forced to either live in a truly unfair place and adapt to the injustice that surround them, or to go and find their luck in another country.

I was one of those who, 16 years ago, chose to go to find her luck somewhere else, and here, in my very little world, I can say that I have been lucky enough to find it, definitely with sacrifice, but that at least has been rewarded. England gave me so much more than my own country. I grew up here, and I feel such a strong connection with this place. I must say, London is a truly unique and very special city, so much energy surrounds it! And probably in the countryside it will be very difficult to match the same energy and experiences that this amazing city has to offer. London has been my home for the most important years of my life, and I am truly grateful for that. I have learnt and  grown so much, and I have definitely become a true Londoner in heart, a North London Girl. 🙂

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England, London – View from Walkie Talkie, March 2018 (picture taken by hubby)

But as my 40s are approaching, I strongly feel that my metropolitan experience is coming to an end, and I almost feel obliged to give my place to someone else. There is this need to live in a smaller place, a community country town, and the English countryside is just perfect for that. I hope that its beautiful and magical fairy tale scenery will create new experiences for us, hopefully as enriching as it has been here in London. And I just hope that with the Brexit things are not going to get harder for non-english people… it would be such a shame, especially for those of us who really care about living here!

At the moment there is a strong climate of uncertainty all over the world, things are definitely shifting, somehow… And I feel that our shift is definitely to go to a much greener place, where you become an active part of the local community, living a quieter and simpler life in happiness. Another main point for me is that it needs to be a place where there will be an active Artist’s community. After 16 years in London, I do not think I will be able to survive without the Art’s energy!

So, the next step will be deciding where to move. Obviously there are many factors to keep in consideration: work is one of the most important. We are trying to understand if it is better to remain in a commutable route to London, where initially we will be able to keep our jobs, and once settled in the new town, eventually look for something more local. We looked at places around the Hertfordshire area; the countryside is nice, and some villages are very pretty. Hertford, Letchworth, Hitchin, etc. are all on the list.

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England, Letchworth, Norton Common, June 2018

If instead we will feel a bit braver we are also considering the Gloucestershire area, specifically around Stroud. I love that town! And The Cotswolds’ countryside is just stunning, so many pretty villages. We just have to see jobwise if there are any possibilities that are suitable for us. But everything looks exciting and promising at the moment… so many possibilities!

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England, The Cotswolds, Stroud surrounding, Slad country walk, July 2018

Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions if you have a place in mind that could potentially be ideal for our needs: country town, very green, arty and friendly, with a strong sense of community, where it is easy enough to find a job locally, where properties are not ridiculously priced, and most importantly where you can live a happy life! I know it is quite a lot to ask, but hopefully it is doable… 🙂 I would be very interested to read experiences of people that have done the same thing, leaving London for a quieter life in the country. Feel free to share!

Location, Location, Location

When you decide to change your life style, and to change your surrounding, you have to take in consideration many things, obviously depending on what your intentions are… As we are deciding to conduct a life almost off grid, our needs are based around the self-sufficiency aspect, but most importantly the natural aspect.

I feel the necessity to be surrounded by green, woodland, trees, hills stretching towards the horizon, where nature’s music is omnipresent, where you can breathe with open lungs without the worry of being intoxicated, where at night you look at the sky to gaze the thousands stars in blissful silence.

After living in England for 16 years, I cannot imagine my self being deprived by the fairy tale vivid green that you see around parks and woods on your doggy walks. Here the natural aspect is truly amazing, ‘there is nothing better than the English countryside’ they say…. and they say it for a reason… especially if you think about breath taking views, such as the Lake District, or the beautiful prairies in Dorset, just to name two.

It is very difficult to make this decision, as after living in London for a long time you are totally spoilt for choices. You have everything you need, anything… you name it, it’s here. A course you might have been thinking to do, a concert or an artist you want to see, an incredible variety of shops, for any needs, and for the anti shopper like me, you have the shop that comes on your door step… I can go on for ever. But as time goes by, we have to be brave and put things into perspective. Do we really need all these things? Or is it just a psychological comfort? I live in North London, and I barely go to the city centre… last time I have been there was months ago. So, sometimes we just like the idea of having something available, in easy reach, even when we don’t really need it anymore. And so it is with things… we collect stuff, that we don’t really need, but it comforts us in many ways; probably because we have a life style that lack in something, therefore we require comforts in materialistic things.

So, when we find the courage of letting go, than we are ready to change… and WHERE DO WE GO? (A million dollar’s question) Here starts the CONFUSION… Me and Hubby are both Italians, we come from the same town on the East coast in the centre of Italy, from the region of Abruzzo. Beautiful place, but not very lucky at the moment, due to earthquakes, climatic disasters and political corruption, which I prefer to avoid getting into. Italy is such a beautiful country, probably one of the most beautiful country in the world, for its history, its sun, its food, its art, etc. but at the same time it is also well known for its corruption and political disasters, unemployment, and crazy taxes! And believe me, if you are Italian and understand the language and the culture very well, you have a very different idea of what Italy truly is, and I can assure you it is not nice. So, as much as we like the idea of going back to be closer to our family and friends, we are also terrified by the ‘culture-shock’ that we might have going back, after living for so long in a country that is far more ‘civilised’ and fair, at least on the appearance :).

The English countryside is beautiful and magical, within its naturalistic scenery… but what inspire me and interest me the most here in England is the culture itself. What I love about it is that ‘pagan attitude’, that mental freedom towards life and that ‘easiness’ of people… something that I wish I had around me while I was growing up in Italy, it would have made such a difference. And you can really see after many years experiencing life somewhere else, how growing up in a catholic culture creates a mentally limited society, without even realizing. This is something that I always been against: the limitations that we create through judgement and fears, the fear of the New, the fear of the Diverse. In London the Diversity is celebrated, in Italy the Diversity is condemned, that’s the main difference.

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England – Cumbria, Lake District, Patterdale, July 2017

But although England has so many points in favour, when it comes to the emotional side unfortunately does not have the same strength as Italy. All our family and friends are there, and as the time goes by you start a process of self enquiring, that during your twenties and half of your thirties you didn’t think it was that relevant, but suddenly in your forties it becomes one of the most significant part during your conversations about the move. Being closer to the people that you love is probably the wisest of the decisions, and considering we are both Italians, and our loved ones are in Italy, it seems a bit silly to make the move towards the English countryside, completely on our own, especially after the Brexit.

The other thing that pushes the decision more towards Italy at the moment is that in England properties value are absolutely bonkers, and if you want to buy a farm house you need money, lots of money… in Italy properties are much more affordable, especially in the country/mountains side where no one want to live. This explains why many English and American people are buying entire abandoned villages. So in terms of practicality, if you could choose between living in England with a massive mortgage or living in Italy mortgage free, what would you choose? The answer is pretty obvious if you want to sustain a self-sufficient life style. But we still have to take many things in consideration… Its definitely not an easy decision to make!

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Italy – Umbria, Gubbio, Valdichiascio, February 2018

So although the debate Italy v England is on the table on a daily basis, from the last two years, it is fair to say that at the moment Italy is ahead. I would say 60% Italy, 40% England. Once there was also California on the game, but in fairness: a) – it is too far; b) – after Trump as president of the United States, all my fantasies have somehow vanished.

It is funny how many times you feel like a gypsy, that doesn’t belong anywhere, and every place you see could be a potential place where to live for a while, or make a permanent home. Sometimes I feel like a snail, looking for a lost shell…