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14.12.2020- On Embracing Local Living

Before this most unprecedented of years, it would be rare that I'd spend a whole weekend at home. In a past, much faster-paced life, I'd be forever flitting out and about at the end of the working week, determined to make the most of my free time, irrespective of the fact that it was leading me on what was more or less a one way ticket to burnout. Even in spite of that, there was something about the prospect of staying still which I found oddly more stressful than knowing where I was supposed to be at any given weekend, sometimes months in advance. 

I've lived in the same place for every one of my now thirty one years. Betwixt and between Croydon and Gatwick Airport, aka suburban Surrey. When I was a teenager, and even to some degree at the start of my twenties, I think it's fair to say that I was a bit down on my neighbourhood. It was somewhere to be deliberately vague about in conversation with uni friends, and then work colleagues. I'd venture out of the village every day to travel to work, choosing to engage more with scrolling through my phone on the way to the station, rather than soaking up those precious moments of fresh air, open sky and green surroundings before a ten hour stretch of being swallowed up by the city. Repeat and repeat- until this year. 

There's something about being restricted to staying in one place which will inevitably encourage you to find the little pockets of positivity in your local area, and for me lockdown was a real lesson in not being so down on where I'm from. Since March, I've found all of the pluses and cast aside all of the negatives, and felt (indeed, feel) so overwhelmingly lucky to be where I am now. I've made an enormous array of discoveries right on my doorstep, from the rolling, refreshing beauty of the Surrey Hills just a short drive away, to the incredible community spirit which spills over in the little acts of kindness we see every day- many of which find their way into the Facebook group set up at the start of the pandemic to support those in need. 

I used to feel confined by this village, like it was too small to offer me anything- a totally teenage attitude if ever there was one, right?!  Now, however, I love the fact that I can walk from one end to the other in twenty minutes. That I can get changed into my running gear without any idea of where I might be going, but still find my way home without even having to think about it. That I can now spend to support my local economy, whether that be at my local salon or favourite pizza takeaway. After over thirty years, I'm still finding things to surprise me about where I live- not least how thankful this year has made me for being in this place, at this time. 

Have you found a new love for your local area this year?

(Image credit: Sarah Farrell, please do not reproduce without permission.)


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