The Daily Telegraph - The Telegraph Magazine

FIVE NEWCOMER TRIBES

- by Shane Watson

The ‘We Were Already Here’ Brigade

This lot were already there, just only at weekends, and sometimes on a Friday. Since the pandemic they’ve been in residence for most of the year so now they think of themselves as genuine locals and, in their own minds, have floated to the top of the second-homers hierarchy. Even if they do still go to and from London, a bit, this is now their true home. They know the name of the deli owner and the butcher, are growing vegetables, and no longer panic about being out of range of their Notting Hill wine merchant. Lately they have become more ‘country’ than some of their neighbours, never taking off their gardening togs, obsessing about slugs and not batting an eyelid when their dog humps the postman. Likewise, they slightly disapprove of swimming pools (why would you want one when you have the sea?), Dryrobes, very small dogs, not composting and oat milk.

Greatest hope: That they can retire soon.

Biggest fear: Other newcomers.

The Doer-uppers

This lot see their move to the country as smart, timely and an opportunit­y: they see a barn and think entertaini­ng space; they see a cowshed and think great den for the kids – and then we’ll Airbnb it. In the stampede to find the ideal relocation location – somewhere within a five-mile radius of either Soho Farmhouse (Chipping Norton) or Hauser & Wirth (Bruton) or Jolly Nice (Stroud) or the new Pig at Harlyn Bay (Padstow) – they put in an offer without viewing the property. It is fair to say that they think of the country as a place they can make work for them. They will say: ‘Why would we move back? We’ve got it all going on here and an annexe for the parents’ before taking a call from the man putting in the underfloor heating. Their attitude is not so much ‘love the country’ as ‘once we’re finished with this place, we won’t miss a thing about Islington’.

Greatest hope: That the local farm shop expands.

Biggest fear: That they’ll miss out on the neighbour’s house sale.

The Apologists

The apologists are very aware of being outsiders and genuinely shifty about converging on this unspoilt, out-of-the-way spot along with many others, thereby risking it becoming the next Padstow. They keep a low-ish profile and spend the whole time telling their children to put back the pebbles on the beach, donating money to the lifeboat men, supporting the local bookshop, poring over bird books, learning about local walks and customs, and swimming in the sea – especially if the weather is bad – in a bid to be recognised as the opposite of fair-weather interloper­s. Having been given a major roasting by the local farmer (they missed the sign!) they now keep the dog on the lead at all times. Their secret hope is that, in due course, they will not only blend in but will be thought of as part of the local community. Valued, even.

Greatest hope: To be invited to the big local house for Boxing Day drinks.

Biggest fear: Mispronoun­cing the village where they live.

The Not-quite-inthe-country Club

Remember in The Holiday when Kate Winslet supposedly commuted a few miles from her job in the city to a cottage that looked like it was deep in the Cotswolds? Well, this lot of newly relocateds are living out the Winslet dream in a place on the outskirts of Guildford. As far as they’re concerned, they’ve escaped the rat race and gone rural but, really, if you are going strictly by the map, they’re about as rural as Richmond. Obviously this suits the Not-quite-ins, since the main attraction of the move was having a wisteria-surrounded front door, a fairylight-strewn mulberry tree with a bench underneath it, and a beamy kitchen in which to host twinkly get-togethers, straight out of The Holiday. This tribe spend the whole time chivvying their friends to come and stay so they can put fresh flowers in their bedrooms, light a fire (log burner) and open a fruity Rhône. Greatest hope: That they’ll be hosting on New Year’s Eve. Biggest fear: Cows in fields.

The Really-don’t-getit-but-tryings

The Don’t-get-its spend a lot of time in the local café drinking oat-milk lattes and using the internet. They feel a bit short-changed tbh, because although to begin with country living seemed OK it turns out it’s a lot more effort than advertised (the winter!) and so far they’ve had ant problems, fly problems, mouse/rat problems, a ladybird infestatio­n, a leak, a problem with the Aga and the cesspit plus drainage in the field (their responsibi­lity!), and that’s just recently. It does feel like it never stops and they can’t get satellite channels, or phone reception, unless standing in the field. Mainly, the Don’t-get-its are uncertain what they’re meant to be doing, in between managing household crises. It’s like their old life but much harder, with fewer friends in range, no Ubers and no Deliveroo.

Greatest hope: That they can go back to their old life. Biggest fear: That they can’t.

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