It is unusual these days to open an article about family life and not read something about an unending quest for work-life balance. And statistics about city life and children raised without the freedoms of their parents’ childhoods are never easy bedtime reading.
And that is exactly how we felt 12 years ago when we were losing between 6 and 8 hours a day to a city commute. And where we stretched weekends in Cornwall visiting family or friends to a late drive home on a Sunday… or even a shuttle at the crack of dawn to beat the M25 traffic and make it to work on time.
But no matter how long we stretched the weekends, or how many times we came, there just never seemed to be enough time. We always planned to relocate, or at least to buy a second home, and were thinking about 7 years distant when our children would be nearing secondary school age.
And then one weekend in early summer we took a long weekend in the hills not far away from the Saints Way, which is a renowned Cornish walk from coast to coast. With sky in every direction and daily discussions about which seaside cove was our favourite and our best, we found ourselves flicking through a local paper after a long lunch by the river.
The ‘perfect’ family home
And there it was, an oldish 3-bed in the middle of a couple of acres of grounds headlined ‘perfect family home’. And my husband I agreed it was indeed a lovely looking family home – and quite affordable. With an employer that encouraged flexible and home working we started to think that, just maybe, a relocation was within our sights after all.
Fast forward a year and there we were: same beach, same pub for a weekend lunch, just a different place to call home. We didn’t pursue the oldish house in the remote location, we opted instead for somewhere in easy reach of town amenities and where school could be reached without the aid of a car!
Fast forward another couple of years and we were not crushed by the defeat and stress of primary applications and we were confident that both boys would attend the same place with no difficulty. The move had not been without the usual stresses associated with such a big life change, but there was so much to look forward to that we took it all in our stride.
Cornwall is not the out of the way secret destination that it was in my childhood. And while there is no shortage of countryside and beaches, the area makes so much more of the opportunities that the location affords.
Finding a balance
Our work life balance since the move has involved more than its fair share of picnics and BBQs at the beach. But it also takes in regular bike rides, train trips to St Ives (quite simply the most beautiful train ride in the world) and the occasional trip to the Creally Adventure Park if the children are celebrating a birthday.
Food is a much indulged passion in our house and we have enjoyed finding new tastes and places – there simply is no better place in which to enjoy seasonal, local food. There are a fantastic amount of local artisan producers who have revived not only local interest in their trade and skill, but have worked together to make the foodie revival a trend that is enjoyed and embraced by the whole county.
Farmers markets are always worth seeking out, as are the agricultural shows where producers will meet and greet and offer an array of samples to tempt your tastebuds. And mimicking popular supermarket deliveries to take the hassle out of your weekly shop, The Cornish Food Box deliver seasonal and local ingredients straight to your door, regardless of where in the county you live or how tricky it is to drive the van down your lane!
This attention to detail and level of service is something the county is being renowned for more and more, and a huge factor in why so many families are relocating here. There is no longer a feeling of being cut off and away from it all. Road networks are vastly improved in recent years and the high speed train link to London is under way.
Cornwall is one of the fastest Infinity (super fast broadband) connections in the country so we can all work and enjoy leisure time with no compromise. The 4G network is now linking the county better than ever before so, with the occasion of a few secret beaches we know, the communication black spots of old have been eradicated.
The right decision
So, some 12 years on we have found ourselves asking if we made the right decisions. We are dashing back to London a bit more frequently than before and the visitors trundling down the A303 have slowed as some of our long time friends prefer a half term in the Canaries to Cornwall these days!
Our boys are now in their teens and with screen time such a key part of their entertainment sometimes we wonder if they realise that the beach is just a walk away. But they have freedoms that their city dwelling cousins just don’t have. We have no anxieties about after-dark bus trips and they have enjoyed their independence from an earlier age.
Where once we lusted after the large house with the paddock and an apple orchard, now we are pleased to be the ‘in town’ destination where the boys congregate before sports fixtures, or where pizzas are delivered to after a cinema trip!
The quality of schools in the region is second to none and combined with the low crime rate, we are certain that there truly is no better place to raise a family. Our work life balance is better than most, we are part of a thriving and supportive local community – and the local pub has welcomed our kids for family meals from toddler age to teen.
And when we can get them out the door in time there is always a beach to head to for a sausage sandwich. Cooked on the BBQ with sand in our toes and the sea in our sights – simply put, there is no better way to start the weekend!
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Hus spoke to MumsNet Cornwall for this week's blog post.