Friday, May 07, 2004

We've moved ..... Country-living.info LAUNCHED !! 

We've moved hosts and my Country Living Journal blog can now be found at :


Recent Posts on www.country-living.info

recent rural living stories
natural country stone
my country garden


Email me with any queries : jwalsh@blackbridge.com

We hope you will enjoy our new site and better layout ....

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Monday, April 26, 2004

Country Living is not all fun you know .... 

The Ann Arbor News [Extract]

Spring has arrived, bringing mud with it, thawing of Livingstone County's 680 miles of gravel roads means a muddy mess

Like the sight of the first robin or a young man's fancy turning to love, a sure sign of spring in the country is the thawing of gravel roads.

The mud can sink a vehicle up to its wheel axles; the potholes and ruts can wear bearings and knock front ends out of alignment. And the April showers that bring May flowers have Mike Craine, Livingston County Road Commission managing director, saying tongue-in-cheek that conditions right now are "exquisite."

"This is country living," he said. "A lot of people still are not aware that country roads are like this every spring."

[ Full Article from Ann Arbor News ]

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Country life, climate and the weather ... 

I've mentioned it previously, but one of the things that I find quite different about living in the country versus living in the city is the impact of the weather has on our daily lives. When I lived in the city, the weather was more an incidental part of our existence. Of course a beautiful sunny day would be appreciated, but it usually didn't impact on our daily life greatly as we busily scurried about our daily routine of getting to the office, fighting with the traffic, etc; Conversely of course, when the day was windy or rainy, it had minimal impact on our lives, it was more an minor irritant than anything else.

Since we have moved to the country, I find that we now listen ever more closely to the weather forecast, and often plan our day accordingly. In Ireland, the weather is always mild but always changeable. When the weather is good we are in a glorious paradise here, and when the weather is bad we tend to find a nice cosy spot and stay indoors. For example if it is going to be a sunny, warm day we will schedule the days activities around outdoor pursuits and leisure activities such as walking on the shore etc; or gardening etc; We will spend time in the sun room and in the rooms of the house that benefit from sea views. However, if the day is going to be wet and windy for example we will plan our days activities to minimize our need to be out in the elements, and will spend most of the time in the more cosy living room at the back of the house.

Our new found fascination with all things meteorological takes me back to the days of my childhood in the country, when my ancient grandfather would demand a hushed silence when the radio announcer would read out the weather. I remember the gilded phrases in dulcit mid-atlantic tones of "anticyclones", "rising slowly", and "isobars", the ticking of the old clock in the living room .... doesn't history repeat itself !!

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Thursday, April 01, 2004

April Fool pension joke falls flat (Reuters) 

I had a little chuckle when I read this on Yahoo News ... Happy April Fools Day !

"TOKYO (Reuters) - How's this for a government pension scheme: In lieu of payments, give eligible recipients five lottery tickets a year and a chance to win millions.

A Japanese daily playfully reported on Thursday, April Fool's Day, that Japan's government was considering handing out lottery tickets to make up for future cuts in payments from the ailing public pension system.

"The aim is to suppress the public's discontent by giving them a dream that they may win millions," the Tokyo Shimbun said in the article, one of four joke stories it printed for the April 1 edition.

Some readers, however, aren't laughing.

"I don't want to see a joke that may not be so much of a joke," said a woman in her twenties, one of many young Japanese who already feel like paying into the ailing system is indeed akin to gambling.

More and more Japanese, especially the young, widely believe that they are unlikely to get much out of the pension system even though they may have to shoulder a bigger burden in payments than their ageing parents did.

By 2025, Japan is expected to have one person over 65 for every two of working age, the highest ratio among industrial countries."

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Thursday, March 25, 2004

Mother Nature's flower carpet 

It's been a week since I managed to get out for my usual walk in the blissful woodland near our home. The weather had been wet and breezy for a few days, and so when I last visited the ancient forest, the river had burst it's banks and it left large swathes of the woodland under water. The last few days have been absolutely serene spring days, with bright sunshine and crisp gentle breezes... so I stirred myself this morning and got myself out for my woodland walk.

Well, what a transformation in a week ! Last week I experienced a waterlogged woodland walk .... today what greeted me was a spellbinding display of stunning color and awesome beauty. Mother Nature had been redecorating while I was away ... and had installed a brand new spectacular flower carpet. Because of the mild climate here (i.e. no frost/snow) plants and flowers seem to burst forth spontaneously in unison to deliver lavish displays of flora. What greeted me this morning was a stunning display of wild flowers, the obligatory daffodils have been in bloom for many weeks now, but they have still not lost their brillance. The new arrivals, consist of wild primrose in multitudes, both cream and yellow in color, interspersed with silky buttercups, and then millions of a white flower with a golden centre, and slightly pink veins running through the leaves, which I have never seen before. On this bright spring morn, I was invigorated by this simmering display, and I quietly thanked Mother Nature for laying on this breathtaking sea of color.

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Happy St Patricks Day ... 

Wherever you are around the globe, may I wish you the best of greetings this St Patricks Day :


(Old Irish Blessing)

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Tuesday, March 16, 2004

How to make the move to country life (some tips) - PART 2 - "The What" 

Ok, in the previous installment I broadly explored "The Why" - that is the reason(s) you want to make the big move to country life. In this piece, I'm going to expand a little on "The What" - or to put it another way, now that you are clear on why you want to move to rural life, WHAT sort of country living experience are you seeking ?

When Una and I developed our reasons (The Why) for moving to the country, we also noted some loose ideas on the kind of life we wanted to live in the country. Having young children, naturally their needs were a primary concern, in fact one of the key reasons for the move was the better quality of life and freedom our children would have in the wide open spaces.
In developing a picture of the sort of country life we wanted we looked at the previous scribbles and thought about things like :

- The kind of environment we wanted to live in (i.e. forest, coast, mountain, small town etc), the kinds
of views and scenery that we ideally wanted to surround us.
- The kind of property we wanted to live in (design, traditional, modern, aspects etc)
- The essential services and facilities we wanted to have within a reasonable distance
- A list of things that we were willing to give up to achieve our desired lifestyle

After weeks of toing and froing, Una and I came up with a clear vision of the kind of environment we wanted to live in. Having evaluated all of the different types of environments, we decided that living on or near the coast with an ocean view was an important priority for us, and we concluded that we wanted a traditional property with at least 1 acre of ground around it. Given that our children were young, we were also mindful that living within a reasonable distance of a hospital and medical facilities was an important factor. We also concluded that living any further than 5-10 miles drive from a reasonable sized town with decent facilities was also important to us.

With this clear vision in place, it made the whole process of finding a suitable location, and then a suitable property a lot easier.

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Monday, March 08, 2004

A roundup of recent country life articles that caught my eye : 

HOW we live - Country living holds sway in rural Clark County
The Columbian - Vancouver,WA,USA
By DEAN BAKER, Columbian staff writer. To a newcomer, the names of Clark
County's rural hamlets may seem quaint: Amboy, Hockinson ...

OAK Ranch in 1993. Among their first
Hood County News - Granbury,TX,USA
"Our interest had more to do with finding a place we could enjoy country
living and expand our opportunities to roam the land," Becky said. ...

ARE you fit to join the country club?
Telegraph.co.uk - London,England,UK
... a variety of ways of living in the country, and most people will thoroughly
enjoy being out of the city if they can just identify the kind of country
living ...

GRASS is greener across the bridge
Sydney Morning Herald - Sydney,New South Wales,Australia
... 30. And despite the perception that country living is healthier, the
wellbeing of urban dwellers and country residents was on par. ...

5-ACRE dream homes focus of controversy
Bellingham Herald - Bellingham,WA,USA
... five-acre lots as rural, but some people see them as sprawl that puts
more cars on more roads for longer distances, destroys the ambiance of
"country living ...

OPTIMISTS find a way to turn vast wasteland into rich farmland
Minneapolis Star Tribune (subscription) - Minneapolis,MN,USA
... Regina Ward has gotten over her aversion to country living. "I feel
like we're contributing to the advancement of the region," she said. ...

THIS historic old adobe has lasted a long time
San Mateo Daily Journal - San Mateo,CA,USA
... The thick walls of the three room adobe kept it cool in warm weather
and cozy on chillier days. Country living was simple in those days. ...

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Monday, March 01, 2004

How to make the move to country life (some tips) - PART 1 - "The WHY" 

I've had quite a few emails from people who ask for my advice on how to go about making the move to country living. I'm no expert, but hopefully some of things that we have experienced may be of some help to others. I will add things to this list over time, as they strike me, so hopefully over time this will become a helpful resource to people considering the move to the country.

This is a rather large topic, and thinking through it, I have tried to break it down a little based on how Una and I approached the big move from the city to the country. I will update each piece over the coming weeks / months as my knowledge grows ...

1. The Why ?
2. The What ?
3. The Plan
4. Making it Happen

1. The WHY ?

Naturally, this is usually the biggest discussion point for individuals, couples and families considering the move. Why do you and/or your family want to break away from city living ? For Una, and I it was really the feeling that we were "existing" rather than really "living" and the sense that our quality of life would be a lot better in the country than in an ever burgeoning city. I hasten to add, a move to the country doesn't solve all these issues, because there is more to truly living than a nice environment in which to live, but it sure helps !! Thinking back, we spent many years kicking around the crazy idea of leaving the metropolis, however we got really serious about it about 10 months before we actually moved. We sat down each evening over a period of a week, and tossed around all the pros and cons, the hopes, the dreams, the things we would gain and the things we would lose. It was fun, but hard work also, as we were questioning many of things we'd always assumed to be foundations of our lives. At the end of the week, we had distilled a document which started with the statement of principle that we had decided to move to the country for a better quality of life and that we were willing to make some sacrifices in return for this better quality of life. We had also written out some loose ideas on the the kind of life we wanted to live in the country covering topics like the kind of lifestyle we were seeking, where we wanted to live, finances etc. The most important part of this work was the decision in principle to move to the country and our WHY was for a better quality of life for ourselves and our young children.

[to be continued ....]

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Roundup of recent rural living articles that caught my eye 

... will we ever hear the end of reality tv ?

CITY GIRLS head to the Country (Reality TV Programme)
Nzoom.com - New Zealand
... The one qualification for these women is that they all have a desire
to try another lifestyle - to experience country living for real....

Unplugging UPN's Amish Experiment? (Reality TV)

(E! Online)
Lawmakers have blasted UPN for its proposed Real World-like reality series that would
feature Amish teens living it up in the big city ....

ANGRY Villagers Take Common Case to the High Court
The Scotsman - Edinburgh,Scotland,UK
... Householders in a similar plight across the country - living in what
they describe as "Villages of the Scammed" - accuse "unscrupulous"
land owners ...

Feds Part of Tribe Pushing for New Casino
(Associated Press)
A once-tiny, nearly destitute American Indian tribe is pushing hard to build a $100 million casino; but it's not traditional tribal members gunning for riches.

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Saturday, February 21, 2004

Recent articles on country life 

I am up to my neck in a new work project, so I haven't updated in a few days, but have loads of stuff I want to share ... when I get a minute !! Meantime here are a few stories about rural living around the globe that struck a chord with me.

Use of Internet in Rural Areas Increases
Associated Press
Use of the Internet in rural communities has increased, but still lags that of city dwellers and suburbanites, according to a new survey.

BLUE Cypress's remoteness one of its biggest attactions
Vero Beach Press-Journal - Vero Beach,FL,USA
... The February 2003 issue of "Country Living" depicted the 1958 trailer
of Charlotte Terry, a Vero Beach resident who represents people buying
beach homes in ...

'GO west' and escape Sydney's train chaos
Dubbo Daily Liberal - Dubbo,New South Wales,Australia
A cheeky campaign to advertise the benefits of country living alongside
train timetable delays is being considered by Dubbo City Council. ...

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Some recent stories of country life ... 

THE Window sill Snake: A true and disturbingly vivid account
Dover Community News - Dover,NH,USA
... theory. At any rate, this was country living, where the flora grows
green, and the fauna drops in for the occasional visit. Marc ...

LOG cabins are growing in popularity

Quad City Times - Davenport,IA,USA
... The interest in log homes is I think growing every year," said Barry
Tripp, promoter of the Titan Log Home & Country Living Show this weekend
at the ...

SIP local bubbly with your sweetie

Fredericksburg.com - Fredericksburg,VA,USA
... Barboursville Vineyards' Barboursville Brut also has gained national
attention, and is featured in the February edition of Country Living magazine.

TREASURE hunt takes rain check

Houston Chronicle - Houston,TX,USA
... in. But I'll try again next trip. I've had enough country living for
a while, so I'm heading home. See you back at the house. You ...

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Sunday, February 15, 2004

The joy of a simple hello ... 

One of the very nicest things about country life, is the fact that people generally take the time to "pass the time" with you.
In the city as I went about my day to day routine, I very rarely made eye contact with strangers, or the people I passed on the street. Like all the other ants in the colony I carried along on my own sweet path completely oblivious to all of the other people around me. It was almost as if the other people who inhabited the space around me in the city (i.e. those outside my family, and personal circle of friends), were irritating obstacles in my path as I carried on with what to my mind were my own highly important daily tasks !

For example, as part of my get fit regime (that's a whole other story... ), I have recenly taken, every other day, to walking in a local ancient forest which has been beautifully preserved and mapped out with enchanting walking paths. It is a place of truly awe inspiring serenity and beauty. This ancient forest is indeed a treat to the senses, where most of the trees are many hundreds of years old, and even a few which might even have reached the ripe old age of 1000 years ! There are beautiful rivers and ponds, with every kind of vegetation you could dream of, and even in the depths of winter it is a riot of colour. I read on the public information boards posted around the reserve, that even the anthills in the forest are old ... with some of the ant families loyal to the same tree for over 150 years ! Anyway, I digress ... each day as I have walked thru this magicial woodland, without exception every single person I have met has saluted me with a smile and a simple "hello" or a "good morning" or "fine day for walking" ... all the more surprising is the fact that due to the beauty of the West Cork, all year round many of the walkers I met are city dwellers often from other countries as well as the Irish.

What is it about being in the country side that makes us all relax, chill out, and turns even the most brusque city dweller into a civil smiling chatty individual ? Whatever it is I like it ... if we could only bottle it ... we could again bring back civility to the whole world !!

I think the poem below sums it up far more eloquently than I could ever dream to ...

"What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stop and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this, if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare."

By: W. H. Davies

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Tuesday, February 10, 2004

CITY slickers go bush ... 

City slickers go bush ...
Bendigo Advertiser - Bendigo,Victoria,Australia

... of the Bush - a group of leading regional businesses - the campaign
seeks to encourage city residents to come and experience a weekend of
country living. ...

© James Walsh,2003-2004


Monday, February 09, 2004

Cost of living in the country ... 

One of the pleasant aspects of living in the country is the fact that the cost of living is noticeably cheaper. Perhaps its the fact that we do not spend our lives in the malls, and shopping centres like we seemed to when we lived in the city. But in general the price and quality of goods, seems to provide better value overall. One exception we have noticed is that our land line phone bills did go up significantly when we arrived, the reason being of course that we were making a lot more long distance or national calls as opposed to local calls as previously. Thankfully the web came to the rescue again and we were able to get a much cheaper provider and we signed up online, and made great savings with FoneValue. Now, if anyone knows how I can cut our mobile phone bills, do let me know ....

© James Walsh,2003-2004


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