It's been almost three months now since I moved out of a three bedroom stone cottage and into 'Princess Pea', a small Sprite caravan, in the grounds of my friends' house in the Forest of Dean.
How did I end up there? Quite simply love, or lack of it, and the sheer pig-headedness to not do what was expected of me. I lived in the beautiful cottage for 9 months with Jon and at one point I thought that he was the love of my life. In fact, we both did. However, life never works out the way that you think it is going to and at the start of May this year we decided that, even though we had given it our best shot, living together and being in a relationship was a really bad idea. We gave notice on the cottage and began to plan our separate lives.
Don't get me wrong, it wasn't an easy decision, and at times it has been really hard letting go of the last 3 years, but it was definitely the right decision.
At the start of May, the one thing that I knew for certain was that there was no way I was going to move back to the city. I own a flat in Bristol and it would have been all too easy to move back there and slot into my old life. The trouble is, that I have lived in cities for the last 14 years and I have spent most of that time trying not to. I love the countryside and now that I had finally made it out here there was no way I was going to move back.
Luckily, some old friends of mine have a house close to where I was living and there was space for me, and my cat, in Princess Pea. However, it's not your average sleepy countryside home! Hillcrest is a vibrant community of friends on the edge of the Forest of Dean.
The first thing you notice are the dogs, usually 3 of them, often 5. They have big personailities and loud barks and are all as soppy as hell towards the people they know. Then there are the three goats pottering around the field with the constant accompanying sound of their alpine bells. The next thing you'll probably hear are the kids, three girls between one and three, with the usual repertoire of shrieks, giggles, songs and cries. At times you'll hear work going on in the carpenter's workshop, or skateboarding coming from the skate ramp out back. Occasionally there are parties and banquets, when the neighbours are notified and the mixing desks and amps are set up in the dorms, and off we go until morning. When Camp Hillcrest springs into action, you'll find kids running about, taking part in graffiti workshops, splashing about in the wood-fired hot tubs, or whittling something around the campfire.
Most of the time though, you'll hear nothing but birdsong and the rustling of leaves in the wind.
So this is where I have been living for the summer and while my space is small and posessions are few, I am more content than I have ever been. There are plenty of new and exciting possibilities just peeping over the horizon and I am going to make an effort to chronicle them all here. There will be the challenges presented by living in something other than a house, there will be the cold, there will be a 'move' or two (more of that soon!) and hopefully lots of fun on the way.