Thursday, October 14, 2010

When Home is...leaving the city for the country

Have you ever considered swapping city living for a rural life? I know I have and I often wonder what the reality of such a lifestyle change would be like. Writer Hilary Burden made this move five years ago when she left an apartment in London for an old weatherboard house in Tasmania. For Hilary it was more than just a physical change of space; this move has also changed her sense of ‘home’.

‘Home was never about the place I lived - it was about me. Now my home is totally connected to place - in all senses of that word; ie town, region, community, seasons, livelihood - my life is local.’

Hilary had been looking for a significant change and had reached a point in her life where she felt it would be possible; ‘I decided my time living in a city was over. I wanted fresh air, fresh produce, fewer people, less congestion. And I no longer needed a traditional career or professional status. Being independent and child free, I realised I could live anywhere which was a tremendously liberating feeling.’

She was looking for a home on the east coast of Tasmania and had put in an offer on a rundown farmhouse which fell through; ‘I was pretty despondent. Then I saw the home I'm in now in the local paper. The ad was headed "Character & Space". It was just a classic old weatherboard house that needed some TLC. I arranged to visit and, like they say, knew instantly this was the one. I visited in August when the front paddock was full of daffodils. Maybe that helped too.’

Hilary’s only expectation about living in the country was that she wanted to live a balanced life at a slower pace. ‘This was a very conscious decision, and at times I've had to be quite ruthless about what I let in and out. This is what I love. That what I aspired to is unfolding around me and making me happy. Observing the seasons has been key to achieving this I think.

Observing the seasons has also been key to how Hilary’s sense of home has changed; ‘Home was the door to my flat being closed behind me. Noise, crowds and pavements shut out. I lived where I worked which made it home. Now I live where I live and work comes second. And I leave the doors open when I'm home.’

Her garden is one of the things she loves most about her home now – ‘this is a reflection of the doors always being open’ – and an outdoor lifestyle has also led her into a new business venture. Hilary, along with her partner Barney run ‘Hilbarn’: a fresh fruit and vegetable box delivery service bringing seasonal produce to Launceston. They collect seasonal produce from across the state, including buying from roadside stalls, organic farmers and people who sell only by word of mouth.

And now, instead of ‘seeking favourite things to do in the day rather than reflecting on the day itself’ as she once did when living in the city, Hilary loves ‘opening the doors and windows on the day. Hearing the birds wake with song. And making sure I'm not chasing the day.’

For more information about Hilbarn or to read Hilary’s blog, click here.

All photos © Hilary Burden


Josephine Tale Peddler said...

Sounds perfect. Tasmania is where I grew up and often feel homesick for. I enjoyed this post. xx

Germaine Leece said...

Thanks Josephine. I've never visited Tasmania before but after seeing Hilary's photos it's definitely on my to-do list!

Black Eyed Susie said...

Tasmania is definitely a great place to be and home for me too. I live in a small city but still feel connected to nature and the seasons. We are lucky enough to have large windows overlooking trees and the mountains in the distance and we can feel we are away from the town. Also, we are lucky enough to get to look forward to our Hilbarn delivery every week!

Lovely thoughts from Hilary. Thank you.

Meagan @ wilona and me said...

Germain I think about leaving the city for the country on a weekly basis... I think all the family should follow in Brigee's footsteps. Loving your blog! x

Germaine Leece said...

Thanks Meagan! the grass is always greener... or is it?! all these comments certainly make me wonder... gx


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