Although Samuel Johnson reputedly once said, ‘Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,’ I have always thought precisely the opposite. It is surely when you wish to maintain your joie de vivre and a sense of appreciation for the speed and opportunities of urban living that the desire to balance it with time elsewhere arises. When one is continually mired in the centre of the action, it’s easy to become disaffected, stressed and resentful of its pace; whereas from afar, one can fondly muse on all of the good things about living in the heart of any throbbing metropolis.
For us Brits, that ‘afar’ means the countryside: hallowed turf that connotes calm, fresh air, good living and relaxation. There you imagine you will be restored to your best self, engaging in hearty hikes and even heartier pub lunches. Your face will bloom with the ruddy glow of someone that actually gets outdoors, oxygen will blow freely through your gills and you will feel fitter by association and more alive by default. And therefore more able to cope with the city, wherein most of us must work.
Sadly, a second home in the country, or even a complete escape, is but a romantic fantasy for the majority, an aspiration for when we retire or win the Lottery. But help is now at hand, for we have been working on a glorious new large-format volume of some of the world’s most beautiful, by our standards, countryside homes, ELLE Decoration Country. Within the pages of this standalone tome, you can live the dream vicariously and begin to believe that one day you too will decamp from the dust and enrich your life by being surrounded by a greener and more pleasant land.
For myself, I managed to get as far as Brighton, but seeing as that’s unofficially known as London-by-Sea, I’m not sure it counts… So I’ll join you in yearning for an ideal life beyond the smoke.
First published as my Editor’s Letter in the December 2012 edition of ELLE Decoration UK