Hatty shares how her preconceptions have been challenged
We moved out of London (to Swanage) two months ago. What is it really like? Have we been accepted? Are we getting stuck in or longing for London?
I asked David for his thoughts as I prepared to write this article and his overwhelming reaction was “no surprises”. He loves it here. For David, it’s all that he had expected and hoped for.
I’m not so sure. Don’t get me wrong. I love it here but many of my London-centric stereotypes have been challenged in our first two months.
Outsiders are welcome
Prior to moving to Swanage, friends had told us that unless you’ve lived in Swanage “forever” you are deemed an outsider. This made me wonder whether Londoners like us would be easily accepted into the strong community that is Swanage. I needn’t have worried. We have been made to feel so welcome. On our second day in the new house, there was ring on the doorbell and the lady on the doorstep asked David if he would come and sing tenor in her choir. We had only met her once before when we stayed in her B&B prior to moving in and, in a chance conversation over breakfast, had mentioned that we both sang in choirs. It seems it’s the same the world over that tenors are in demand!
My turn came when I rang up to enquire about joining the Town Band. The phone was answered by the band conductor’s wife and when I gave my name she said “Hatty Fawcett? The bassoonist?”. Least you are in any doubt, I am not a world famous bassoonist. Indeed, I haven’t really played my bassoon for 20 years or so but it seems after playing at the Town Carol Service word had travelled fast!
These have not been chance, fortuitous encounters. As we meet new people and start to join community groups and classes our experience has been the same. We have been welcomed with open arms and people seem genuinely friendly.
There’s as much, if not more, going on than there was in London
Another London-centric sterotype of mine was that there might be nothing to do. Of course we knew there would be lots of lovely walks and sailing (as we had enjoyed those activities on our regular camping trips to the area), but we didn’t really know how easy it would be to indulge our other hobbies and passions. Would we be sitting in our new home twiddling our thumbs and pining for the bright lights of London?
So far, we’ve discovered 6 choirs, 3 amateur orchestras, a Town Band, assorted instrumental groups and 2 amateur dramatic groups. Then there are numerous opportunities to indulge a more active lifestyle – there’s the sailing club, a running club, a badminton club, lots of walking groups, a football club (covering various ages and both genders) and bowles! The sofa might never get a look in!
When it comes to a night out there are two cinemas locally, a local theatre in Swanage itself and the Poole Lighthouse (theatre, arts centre and home to the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra). There are hundreds of places to eat and drink (as you’d expect in a tourist destination) covering every price bracket as following this link to places to eat in Swanage will attest.
Excited by so much opportunity we have started building a list of babysitters!
It is different
There is no doubt that Swanage is different to London. We are much more aware of the weather – especially in the gale force winds experienced this week. The pace of life is slower – which has taken me, in particular, a little time to adjust to. It also seems the average age is a bit higher than the young professional/family community we had in Streatham, but that may just be that we haven’t tapped into all the family groups yet. Cultural diversity is, perhaps, a little less pronounced too which is disappointing.
Nevertheless, Life Beyond London is good. It has filled us with new energy and enthusiasm. We’re all on an adventure, re-discovering ourselves, our passions and the things that make life worth living.