“You live in THAT house?”, “Wow! Sooo cool!” and “Let me get this straight: you are going to live at work?” have been just a few of the reactions to our latest move. In October, I finally left the daily commute behind and we moved to possibly the most desirable address in Leicestershire: The Lodge, Bradgate Park, all of 100 yards from the office. Yes, I suppose I do now live at work as we are surrounded by it – 800 acres of what is, according to TripAdvisor,the 8th most popular park in the UK and we are slap bang in the middle of it.
Living in the middle of the most popular bit of countryside in the county does have its drawbacks, such as when you want to pop out to the shops at the weekend and it seems as though the entire population of Leicestershire is walking up your front drive. But these pale into insignificance against being able to open the curtains in the morning and see the deer grazing in a parkland landscape that is unchanged in many ways from the one that the Park’s most famous former resident, Lady Jane Grey, gazed out on from the window of her tower in the now-ruined Bradgate House nearly 500 years ago.
I always rush to tell people that our new home as not as grand as it looks: we occupy one half of the sizeable Victorian house – think the sort of rectory in a prosperous village that now tends to be inhabited by commuting bankers – rather than the whole six-bedroomed pile. A continuing pre-occupation since moving has been the ongoing struggle to squeeze the quart of our worldly possessions into the pint pot of our new quarters. We have recently acquired a spare room – in a self-storage warehouse in Leicester – and that is beginning to make the exercise seem possible.
So far, the effect on my work-life balance from living at work has been overwhelmingly positive. I probably do spend a bit longer in the office but this nowhere near eats up the extra two hours a day that I have gained by giving up the commute. It is fantastic to be able to walk out of the front door at 8.25am and be at my desk by 8.30 or to switch off the computer at the end of the afternoon and be out with the dogs enjoying that ‘middle of nowhere’ feeling you can get in parts of Bradgate fifteen minutes later.
Our only real complaint about living in such splendid isolation is that it never gets properly dark.The nearest streetlight may be a mile away in the village but we do get the dubious benefit of the continual orange glow that is Leicester after nightfall.It is a lot darker than our previous house, although that was in the middle of a village and had two streetlights close by, but night here seems like broad daylight compared to the three years that we spent in our little valley in the Brecon Beacons.
Anyway we are here and looking forward to getting to know the Park on a more personal level as we live through the changing seasons and the rhythms of life at Bradgate.
I might even find time to do some writing…