Skip to main content

Our village

Last week was The Big Move.

After what felt like an eternity spent booking things, cancelling things, and packing things, we finally moved into our own home, the first house we’ve owned in almost 6 years. And we’ve already had a visit from the village communications hub (aka Mandy), and two of our neighbours; we’ve signed up for the village lunch club – first lunch of the year is on Thursday; and we’re going to the pop-up pub night in the village tithe barn at the beginning of February. In other words, we’re immersing ourselves in village life.

Not so long ago, the thought of community living would have been a complete anathema for us. Before moving to a small sheep farm in Portugal’s Setúbal, all the places Jack and I had lived, had enjoyed a very high level of privacy and we came to regard that as our preferred state of living.

But Portugal changed that.

Enforced community living

In Setúbal, we rented one of four houses in the grounds of a small farm. The other three houses were all holidays lets. It was autumn when we first moved in and the holiday season had finished which meant we had the place to ourselves, including the large, leafy terrace outside the front door. It was bliss. Then Easter arrived and with it came the visitors.

Our leafy Portuguese terrace

Suddenly there were people wandering past our front windows at all times of day and night, having barbecues on the leafy terrace and, at one time, conducting a loud telephone conversation directly outside the open window of our ground floor bedroom at half past midnight. It’s fair to say it was something of a shock to the system. We retreated to our small back terrace which gave us much more privacy. Unfortunately, it was also unbearably hot, completely without shade, and the default breeze made it almost impossible to use a garden parasol. Privacy became something we could only enjoy early in the morning and after 4pm when the sun moved off the terrace.

When the owner decided to let the house next door on a permanent basis, we were delighted, until the new neighbours took over the lovely front terrace as it was directly outside their front door. At the same time, the owner decided to sell her home on the other side of the peninsula and move permanently onto the farm. From that point onwards, she was a constant feature of our lives, frequently popping to chat to us from both the front terrace, and the rear.

We became very used to seeing her, and our neighbours, in and around our home all the time.

When Brexit heralded changes to the law for the length of time non-EU nationals could stay in a country, we were forced to relocate to the UK. Once again, we found ourselves tenants on a farm, this time a much larger farm with sheep, goats, chickens and dogs – lots of them. With fabulous views over the Devon countryside and a continuous flow of visitors to the farm and myriad farm animals grazing outside the front door, privacy was once again off the agenda. But we loved it there.

The farm

Village life

Now we’ve moved into a small Somerset village with just 200 or so residents. From the little information we’ve gleaned so far, many of the residents are actively involved in the community whereas others – including the neighbours on one side of us – prefer to keep themselves to themselves. Before Portugal, Jack and I would have been firmly in that latter camp. But now we’re happy to become involved and to participate in village life.

It feels like we’ve now got the best of both worlds, a completely private back terrace and small rear garden and a small front garden which is on the main street and gets full sun from early morning. With as many as three cars an hour during peak times, and a handful of folks a day passing by, the front looks like a nice summer breakfast spot. At the same time, there are lots of village activities to get involved with, so community living is there when we want it, and not when we don’t.

At least… that’s the plan.


I’d love to keep you updated with my latest news and reviews

I don’t spam! Read my privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply