Nature Ramble

A bit different again this week.

Let’s look at what happens to sanitised townies when they move to the countryside

A short guide to the country for townies

Those who move to the country should realise it is violent and muddy, horses don’t need road tax and there is no poo fairy

Horse riders on the North Downs Way in Surrey. ‘When [town dwellers] come to the country, they try to sanitise it to make it more like the town.’ Photograph: ICP /Alamy

The gamekeeper on the shooting estate where I have a small country retreat received a phone call from a panic-stricken resident of the nearby village a few weeks ago.

“Is that the ranger?” asked the lady, who had recently moved from suburbia to our little corner of the Surrey countryside.

“Ranger?” said the gamekeeper. “There ain’t no ranger here.”

“Yes, well,” continued the lady, very flustered, “someone told me to call you because you are the person who takes care of foxes.”

“That I am,” said the gamekeeper, now on more solid ground.

“Thank goodness,” said the lady. “I need you to come and deal with a fox in my back garden.”

“Right you are,” said the gamekeeper, and he drove straight over to her large, elegant house, located the fox, and without further ado, put a fatal bullet in it. Upon which the lady came screaming out of her house.

“What did you do that for?” she wailed.

“You said you wanted it dealt with.”

“Yes, but you didn’t have to kill it.”

The gamekeeper then saw that he was dealing with a townie.

Townies, as the cricketer and country-dweller David Gower complained in a recent interview, have very little clue as to what life in the country is about and how one might survive it. Townies think you can deal with foxes by ways other than killing them. Perhaps they think you can hypnotise a fox into the back of a Land Rover and then take it for a course of aromatherapy, after which it will see the error of its ways and desist from slaughtering poultry, game birds, smaller farm animals and family pets.

Gower is right to say town dwellers should be forced to learn about the countryside, but I am not convinced you could make them listen.

When they come to the country, they try to sanitise it to make it more like the town. Where I am, we woke up one day to find that a millionaire who had moved into a mansion with faux turrets had, during the night, resurfaced with shiny tarmac the dirt track bridleway leading to his driveway. So when we ride our horses on it now, they skate down it.

There is also a lottery winner who flies his wife to the pub in his helicopter. All this is very irritating for those of us who try to live as nature intended, which is to say driving to the pub in a beaten-up Fiat Panda rather than landing there in a Sikorsky.

Wearily, therefore, and with no expectation they will heed it, I give townies this short guide to what they should know about the countryside before moving there:

1. It is violent. Get your head around this basic choice: kill foxes or watch them kill everything else. There is no other option.

2. Horses are entitled to walk on roads. Do not shout at riders to ride on the grass verge. This is not legal. And no, horse riders do not have to buy road tax, in case the charming man who once screeched at me to do so is reading this.

3. Wellies may become stained by mud. Get cheap ones for everyday and save your special edition Hunters for best. Ditto Range Rovers.

4. Dogs may defecate in woods. Please refrain from picking up your dog poo in deserted places and hanging it in a small black bag on a tree. There is no poo fairy who comes in the night to take it away.

5. Stiles are provided for your convenience. Do not stand next to them rattling gates and demanding farmers “open up” or you will call the police. If you can’t climb a fence without suing someone for emotional distress and/or going to the European court of human rights, please go back to suburbia.

6. Trees and grass may grow, as part of a natural process. Do not ring the council to complain. They get government money per head of population and if only six people live there, then all you need to know about the local services is this: there are none.


11 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Alex Jones on July 29, 2013 at 8:08 am

    Well said! I am fortunate living in an area that is part countryside and town, so I get the best of both worlds.



  2. As Alex said, I live in a hybrid too (obv not Gib). If they want to bring in legislation in my pueblo to clean up after dogs then we’ll abide by that. But when goats, sheep, horses, draught cattle all defecate in the road, I’m not sure of the added value. Cats invariably try and use my garden and people use the river bed.

    I have a friend, and she was out one day with another rider, and they were run into. Her friend’s horse was killed/put down. While I’m not into snooty riding, I do think roads are for everyone. People, cyclists, horses and in our case, donkeys, sheep, goats and bueys as well. They were all there rather before the advent of cars.

    One of the reasons we didn’t move to the countryside was a) not wanting the local hunt passing my garden and b) not wanting to see local animals rounded up to be slaughtered. Total towny me. I have cheap wellies though for the chicken run, (he has Hunters). We do have three Landys but no Range Rover, just an old Series, a Spanish Santana and a rather shiny Defender. It doesn’t get to go off road.

    Horses for courses. So to speak.



    • >rough, do bears poop in the woods? Old question, but the reply is obvious and applies to any animal. Pooping on the road is as good as any other place, animals have been pooping long before their were roads, a birthright I would imagine.

      Sorry to hear about the horse, motorists seem to think that they ‘own’ the roads and are most inconsiderate when using them.

      Not in favour of the ‘hunt’ as a sport, whereas farming is not considered sport. I love Land Rovers, never been in a Range or Defender, to me they are toys, not Land Rovers. I used to have an old ex-army 80 incher, wonderful.




      • Motorists think they own the roads here in the city too. Many roads in Gib don’t have pavements – too narrow – and motorists expect right of way. What are pedestrians meant to do? Stand there all day and not walk?

        I’m not into killing animals but we have trapped the odd rat/mouse, so I’ll hold up my hand to hypocrisy. Oh and flies. And mosquitoes. And cockroaches. My animal rights activist badge is being withdrawn as I write. As for hunting, we supported Hunt Sabs for many years. Tearing a fox from limb to limb, running for it’s life for a few rich people to jump hedges? No. Does not suit my thinking.

        I used to fancy a Rangey, they are one big heavy vehicle, I’m not talking Evoques here. I also fancied a County Station Wagon. The Santana substitutes for that. Looked at a Rangey a few years ago and the urge had disappeared. While the Def isn’t as good as a series (my fave) ours is not a toy and would be most offended by that. I’ve never been in a freebie, but I did drive my boss’s Disco. Our Def is 2005 so pre-Puma. At least it still has the vents. All ours are LWB.

        Did a little Landy task at the weekend. Must update my Landy blog. If you check it out, search for glass and you will find why we had to buy the Depender. It was the only decent Landy for sale in Gib at the time.


  3. When I moved many years ago to my small town from the city I thought I had found heaven. Then the subdivisions came in, People wanted all back roads paved because they didn’t want the dust on their cars or coming in their homes. Many of the new homes are going up near a farm (farmers have been selling off some of their acreage but still farming a small area near their home), one moved in these people complain bitterly about the smells that come from the farm (manure). Everything gets paved over, and all wildlife they believe should be shot. We had one man who was baiting for bears just so he could kill them,illegal here. Yes, I wish anyone who can’t share the countryside should go back to the city.



    • >lsf, subdivisions are the death knell of the country. If people don’t want smells, don’t want dust and don’t want bears they should stay in the city. There is coming a time when people will be flocking to the country from the cities because the city infrastructure has collapsed; just look at Detroit, that scenario is going be repeated across the western world.




      • Detroit is a sad story, but I see it as an opportunity to have a better life if they ever embrace local small businesses. With all the houses that have been torn down parks could go up, those remaining could expand their property to include empty lots and turn the city into a smaller town easier to support. That of course would mean getting rid of much of the city government employees to cut back on expenses.


      • I’m not sure of all the ins and outs of Detroit, but from what I gather the don’t have the funds to do even that. The empty lots are doomed to return to wilderness, literally islands of wilderness in the city.


  4. I waste no opportunity to tell townies how horrible the countryside is, in the hope that they’ll leave it – and me – in peace. Jx



    • >Jade, welcome to my blog. I love your strategy about the horrible countryside. Personally I love it, one of the best times of my life was when I lived on a dairy farm in Bolivia; ah, the smell of cow poo… wonderful and so important for ones well-being.

      Been over to your blog, just read the latest post and about, will have to go back. Thanks again for the the visit and comment, always appreciated.




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