Smallish Founder Estelle Lee brings you dispatches from the Shire in her new monthly column
We moved to Somerset nearly two years ago on my 40th birthday. It feels more like 10 some days, when I try to remember what it was like to just ‘pop’ anywhere or order a tasty Deliveroo on the evenings when I’m too tired to put bread in a toaster. There have been darker days in the colder months, I won’t lie. Quite literally. You don’t usually get airy bifolds in old farmhouses. Everyone warned me that winter in the country can do funny things to one’s get-up-and-go. But when the seasons change, and fragrant wisteria comes to life on the honeyed Hamstone of our home, the reasons for our family’s migration make complete and perfect sense.
Moving to the country is a funny old thing. London friends and acquaintances think you’ve checked out of life and regular hair removal. And it’s true to an extent. I might be growing my eyebrows, but I’m somewhat fortunate in the sense that freelance life means a computer and fast broadband connection (no guarantee if you’re dead set on remoteness) is all I need to work. That and the essential component of motivation, which isn’t easy when weeds are taking over the vegetable patch, the dogs are chewing the front door and even putting out the bins is a 30-minute manual labour operation. Let’s not even get started on the marathon school run… Life may not be easier, but it feels more considered. I prioritise in a way I never did in London. Back then, I just packed it all in.
We’re not going away in the summer this year. According to Mr Lee, it is not the done thing when you have just moved heaven and earth to live in the most beautiful part of the country. Instead, I will delight in my children’s semi-feral joie de vivre and try not to grind my teeth at Other People’s Holidays on Instagram. I might just book the boys into Bruton’s Mill on the Brue, where they can try their pleasingly dirty hands at climbing, grass tobogganing, fire lighting, apple pressing, assault courses, rafting and zip wires. There are even days for dads to join in too – just to get my own back.
Dining outside is the new dining out in the summer months, when you’re a bit bored of scampi at the local pub. I shall begathering my clan around a beautifully laid linen table (from Once Milano, if you’re asking) under blossoming bowers and candlelit lanterns. Obviously you don’t need to live in the country to try this recreation of Petersham Nurseries… What I will not be doing is wringing my hands at the two children who insist on building and watching LEGO Ninjago instead of playing in the dappled twilight, even though we recently bought them an extremely large trampoline to encourage (bribe) them into playing outdoors all summer long.
It’s not for everyone, I know. And I promise I’m not about to turn into some tragic fetishisation of Felicity Kendal circa 1975. Although I wouldn’t mind a pair of dungarees… and I do want to get a few chickens this summer.
Follow Estelle on Instagram @mrsestellelee