Guest Post: Sand in Our Shoes

A rather persistent run of illness from… yawn… everyone in the entire house, has slowed up my 10 year celebrations rather. Sorry for the lack of blogging :( However, here is a post close to my heart, from Suzanne at eggdipdip on leaving city life and moving back to Scotland, for a more open air life back where their roots are. It’s no secret I’d love to move to Devon, that’s where my heart lies – and I’m inspired by this post about following a dream. You can also follow them on Twitter.


For my husband and I, childhood was a time spent outdoors, on the beach, puddling in burns, building dens, walking along disused railway tracks, having freedom basically. We played out on the street until the light failed, we had fields and countryside to run wild in but were rarely further than 5 minutes from our back door.

We remember it as an idyllic childhood. Our parents were there at breakfast and dinner, commuting was an alien concept and ‘holidays’ were simple affairs involving a tent. My parents once drove for an hour, taking the scenic route to a campsite a mere 10 miles away to make it more of an adventure.

Our bikes were our main modes of transport. Or our roller-skates. Whichever was the current fad in the neighbourhood. Summer evenings stretched on forever and were filled with games of hide and seek with 20 other children from ages 5 to 15 joining in or if the parents were feeling energetic, massive games of rounders on the school playing field with as many families as possible.

That’s the childhood I want for my boys. The simplicity, the access to the beach & countryside. The freedom to run wild, get dirty, climb trees and know that they’re safe. I want them to find their confidence and sense of self, surrounded by their grandparents. To know about the mighty power of nature, the vastness of the Cairgorms, the depth of Loch Ness. I want them to live on roads that are safe enough to cycle along and quiet enough to enjoy. I want them to have space and know what it’s like to spend the entire summer with bare feet.

Sporadic visits to Scotland just won’t give them that and neither will exotic holidays to far flung places. I want them to have the outdoor childhood I had. They both already crave vast open spaces. They’re never that content when we’re forced to stay at home but are never happier than when we’re puddling around outside, discovering secret woodland paths or picking blackberries.

A throw away comment my husband made over 18 months ago, about giving it all up, leaving London behind and working in the co-op in Orkney, struck a chord with me. We’d just returned from a fantastic 2 week holiday in the sun and couldn’t wait to book our next one. But we desperately needed a bigger house – our boys were rapidly going to outgrow our shoebox flat in South London, so we were trying to figure out how to afford a bigger house and more fantastic foreign holidays. It would mean both of us working our socks off and hoping for promotion. Faced with the prospect of even longer hours, less time with the boys, paying someone even more money to look after them while we made more money…we realised we were falling into a vicious cycle.

We needed to earn more money to pay for the lifestyle we wanted to compensate for not seeing our boys enough. We couldn’t survive on one salary in London and afford a bigger property, so what could we do? I loved my job. It wasn’t exactly power suits and bankers bonuses, but it was stimulating and allowed my to indulge my weakness for pretty shoes and other sparkly things. But they weren’t enough any more. The stakes were getting higher with ever passing year. I missing out on giving my children a childhood.

Moving to Orkney for a simpler life suddenly seemed a lot more appealing than handing over my salary to childcare providers and train companies every month. It seemed obvious. We couldn’t have the life we wanted or give our children the childhood we wanted for them in London any more. It just wasn’t working. It was time to move home to Scotland.

During 2 short weeks in the summer we went home to Scotland. We flew kites, ate wild raspberries, discovered pirate coves, found dinosaur footprints, enjoyed fish only 10hrs out of the sea, watched for dolphins, hunted a Gruffalo in deep dark woods, dreamt of finding Nessie, built dens, enjoyed proper rope swings (as in rope borrowed from the nearest farm along with an old tractor tyre) and permanently had sand in our shoes.

Those 2 weeks gave the boys a taste of what we could have if we moved back to Scotland. The vote to move ‘home’ was unanimous.

So we’re looking forward to thousands of more moments shared with grandparents in tow. Many, many more picnics on the beautiful beaches of Scotland and many more nights where my children are put to bed with sand stuck to their feet, their hair sprinkled with sea salt and the sound of the waves still echoing in their ears.

We’re swapping our shoebox flat and my high heeled shoes for shoes full of sand.

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  1. says

    Yes! I love this! We’ve just moved to Devon from Brighton (a ‘coming home’ for me as I spent 10 years of my childhood here and have family here still) and totally agree and concur with everything you say! I’m loving the change in my kids and the peace that has enveloped us all. I hope your move home is an utter success and everything you dream of for your family.

    • says

      Thank you Hannah! It’s been wonderful so far, although we’re still in the honeymoon phase. it just feels like we’re on an extended holiday but I’m sure it will feel more real soon.

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