Ten reasons why my children will be country bumpkins

Since I’ve grown up (hmmm) and become an adult, I’ve come to realise just how lucky we were as kids and what a lovely place we grew up in. We didn’t realise it at the time, but we had great freedom and during the summer months we roamed the fields from morning till dusk, playing, hanging out with our friends, building human sized bird’s nest from straw and making hand grenades out of stubble and clay. (The best kind because when you fling them, stones fly out as shrapnel).

It was all we knew. We could ride our bikes to school, walk the half mile to our friend’s house and most of the time we had to find things to amuse ourselves because there wasn’t a whole lot to do and a big lot of time to do it in.

Being the person that I was, I used to bring my journal down the fields and write made-up stories. I fancied myself as a future Enid Blyton. Being the person that my brother was, he took to slicing the string on the straw bales that the farmer had neatly packaged up and stabbing our heating oil drum to see where the weak points were. I’m not sure what he wanted to be when he grew up, but I’m glad to report that petty criminal he is not.

blackberry anne marie 2
My friend Anne Marie (also a country bumpkin) with her two children and August, blackberry picking today. I need to learn how to take photos without me in them!

They were innocent times and we were innocent children. And I want my kids to grow up in the exact same way. I may steer them in the direction of a mirror and hair straightener a bit earlier than I made it there, but hey, it kept me away from the boys for a few years longer. (Not by choice).

We managed to buy our house in a small estate in a village just outside a large town. We are very lucky and I know a lot of where we bought is to do with the property market and mortgages and other factors that many people do not have choices in. But, we did make the conscious choice to live in the countryside, as my husband and I had been reared there.

Here are ten things I hope my children learn from being country bumpkins:

1. Freedom

With vast land comes freedom. The freedom to roam, to get the wellies on and get out, to watch the harvests and enjoy the fields again when the corn has been cut. We were let off into the fields to do pretty much what we wanted because we were far from roads and traffic. This in itself brings freedom and makes it safer and less worrisome for parents when you take off down the boreens on your wobbly bike.

“Where are you going?” mother would shout.
“To the shop. See you in seven hours.”

2. Innocence

Country kids are not known for their sophistication. Peer pressure is not so much a problem, because, well there’s hardly anyone to hang out with. There’s a difference between innocence and naivety though. Innocence is attending your first school disco in your black school brogues and hairy legs. Razor anyone? Naivety is going to your first school disco and wondering why everyone is not running around the school hall and instead are up against the walls ‘shifting’. *freaks out*

blackberry child in distance
There is a child in there somewhere

3. Saying hello

In the country there is a special way of greeting. You don’t say anything. You don’t even open your mouth or wave your hand. You just sharply move your head to the side as if flicking off a wasp with your jaw. This means ‘howya’. You use it when somebody is driving and you are walking. It is the only way farmers say hello.

4. Nature

I was always a bit of a nature buff and could tell you all the names of the trees, plants, weeds and different types of shite. I read books on how to track animals and convinced myself there were deer about when more likely they were just a few frisky cows. We once went bird-watching, armed with a large expensive camera, only to capture a few long shots of shiny black crows. Us and nature? One.

blackberry august
Eating blackberries. The value of a free lunch.

5. Fresh air

Just that it’s fresh and it’s air.

6. Sport

Irish communities are fierce competitive when it comes to local sports. None more so than the GAA team. People in the parish will support the team even if they couldn’t give a toss about football. It’s actually very warrior like. Our kids will learn the value of winning. And depending on the season, more likely, losing. And then they can go for a rake of pints afterwards. Because let’s face it, isn’t that what sport is really all about?

7. Trips to town

Going down town was a big deal when I was young. You had to wait all week for the chance to get the lift in, the friends met and the one ear pierced. (Yes I got one ear done. My friend told me it was the cool thing to do. There’s that naivety V innocence thing again). You looked forward to these social outings so much that they were a treat. These days, they still kinda are.

blackberrry mammy
Still got that one ear pierced. The shame.

8. Combine Harvesters

Have you ever ridden in a combine harvester? No? That’s because you’re a townie so.

9. Slurry in your washing

Most people who have had the pleasure of growing up in the countryside will have encountered their mother racing out to the line as the farmer appears spraying a fine layer of shiny shite over his fields. Slurry day. This odour will settle in the fibre of your clothes rendering them unwearable. (Unless you want to walk around vomiting all day). But with this farming incident comes the value of ‘fertilisation’. Of growth. Of death becoming life. Of understanding where our food comes from. Of realising that we must put back into the earth what we take from it. And that the whole world revolves around: poo.

10. Culchie accent

Sure who doesn’t want to sound like a culchie?

blackberry anne marie
With thanks to the lovely Anne Marie for taking us out blackberry picking today. Here they all are, sitting among the spuds. Sure where would you get it?

16 Comments on Ten reasons why my children will be country bumpkins

  1. Ah I love it! I’m a fellow country bumpkin and will never forget the day we went from our tiny country primary school into town for secondary school, we were shell shocked and also stood out like sore thumbs! We used to tie twine to the handle bars of our bike and steer it because y’know we just thought that was really cool, ah I love being from the country 🙂

  2. This brought me back reminders of my childhood, I grew up in the country (well most part) and we had a ball out playing etc, I sort of live in the country now as farm behind our house and over the road, just a huge main road in between :(, but we can go for lovely walks in minutes. I love the countryside, apart from the smell though x

    • If you look beyond the bad smells, there’s loads of amazing ones; earth, rain, bark. I sound like a crazy presenter on children’s TV! Yes the reality is that our countryside is filled with major roads now, but at least you can step into the fields within a few mins.

  3. Yes to this! We are currently living in a small town but saving to move out into the countryside. I spent all of my teenage years wishing I could tell my parents I was going “out” followed by a slam of the door. But it would have been pointless, we were miles away from anything – I want my kids to have this same pleasure (hehehe!!)

    • hahaha! so funny. out into the blackness of the night, where you were scared to death! my brother once ran away and we found him in the garden in the treehouse. he had his bag packed and all. he said ‘i’m not coming down’. but then he got hungry and did. he ran away for real some time later. but that’s a whole other story!

  4. I could not agree more with this post and it was one of the main reasons we moved to rural France so we could bring up our boys in the country. There are of course the odd disadvantages (for which I am about to blog) but overall it is a great life …. and when I asked the boys if they would rather live here or in a town they both said here #phew!!

    • Wow, that sounds like a dream! There are always disadvantages to every situation – what I thought were disadvantages when I was young have turned out be advantages later in life. I’m lucky the hubby is of the same thinking, otherwise it could cause some dilemmas. I’ll have to check out your blog now, love to hear how you are getting on in France. Merci beaucoup for stopping by 🙂

  5. What a fantastic post (feels guilt from not living in the country…). I’ve always lived in the city, but we love getting to the country and think it’s got so much to offer. Plus, I’m another Enid Blyton fan…..

    • Oh don’t feel guilty, I didn’t want to alienate! I just wanted to appreciate how lucky we are. For the record, I know loadsa country bumpkins who hotfooted it to the city as soon as they got a chance! Enid Blyton rocks, (we’ll gloss over the chauvinism and racism!)

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