Annabel Herrick shares her experience of lockdown in Wales with Style of the City Magazine.
Even though I grew up in the Welsh countryside, I’m totally addicted to the city. I’ve lived in London for 7 years and planned to stay for the foreseeable future. That was until I was stuck in rural Wales under lockdown. Now, country living has become a comfortable reality.
In March, I came home for a weekend to visit family with enough clothes for two days. It’s now June. We began at my boyfriend’s parents before hearing the news that our offices were closing. Slowly, everything in London shut. With everything about the city that we loved stripped away – the museums, the restaurants, the pubs – there was no reason to be there. Looking for somewhere with more space, my friend offered us an empty Brecon Cottages property in Talybont overlooking the canal. This has been our haven for the last three months.
Surrounded by fields, there have been days we’ve totally forgotten about the pandemic. It’s easy to socially distance when we only see a handful of neighbours from afar. I’ve become used to waking up to birdsong everyday and walking straight out the door onto the canal path for a run in the mountain air. Instead of sharing one kitchen with four others (as I’m used to in London), we have one to ourselves, so I’ve taken up baking – olive oil cake and salt butter cookies. I’ve been working on an acrylic painting for weeks, filling in section by section, slathering colour onto a canvas and sometimes quite literally watching paint dry. I’m furiously impatient but being here has forced me to slow down. Instead of rushing to expensive workout classes across London, I’m happy with a cycle underneath the green shrubbery that arches over the canal path. The nearby heron has become a regular spotting as have plump ducklings, signettes and the neighbour’s heavyset dog, Yogi, sunbathing in the afternoon. Instead of cinema outings and exhibitions, it’s these sightings that have sparked our conversations.
Whenever I’ve romanticised about moving to the countryside when I’m older, I fear that I’ll last a few weeks before I itch for the stimulation of a city. Having been here, I’ve realised that the countryside demands a lot of creativity because you’re not fed options on a daily basis. You have to come up with your own ideas to entertain yourself. Yet, I know it’s time to leave because the mountain views have become so habitual that I pass by them too easily. I’ve started sleeping late instead of taking a moment on the terrace every morning. I need distance from the countryside that I call home to be able to appreciate it again.
One of my favourite times to be in London is in the midst of a media flurry. It’s exciting when all eyes are on the city. On the day Brexit was announced and the world was watching, I cycled past Boris Johnson’s house as part of my commute. I’m sad to have missed out on the roaring ‘Clap For Carers’ chorus every week, I’m desperate to join the Black Lives Matter protests and support my favourite local cafe suffering from Covid-19. Really, I miss being in ‘the thick of it.’ Lockdown in Wales has meant that I can more clearly visualise a quiet life here, one day. Now I’m ready to join the madness again.
Please note: Brecon Cottages is still currently following Welsh Government Guidance and will be will be taking bookings for holidays after 4th July 2020.