Boundaries In The English Countryside

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Boundaries.”

After growing up in the countryside I found that my perception of boundaries wasn’t the same as everyone else when I went to university.

I had two close neighbours when living with my parents. The bungalow on the other side of the hedge and the farmhouse a quarter of a mile down the road. The rest of our neighbours were the people on the farms who’s fields bordered our own.

At university my flatmates didn’t agree to this definition of a neighbour. If someone was more than a mile away then they couldn’t possibly be your next door neighbour.

I got tired of trying to explain that in the country-side it just sort of worked that way.

Farming is an isolated occupations and you often find that rural commuIMG_0782nities are the ones where everyone knows everyone and if they don’t know you then they know your aunt, or you mum or you granddad.

The boundaries shift in the countryside and seem to become more blurred.

Where I live now they seem much more rigid and guarded.

Anyway. I was mooching around Twemlows this morning after staying the night with my parents and the theme for the Weekly Photo Prompt popped into my head. It was my parent’s garden fence that actually did it.

This poor bit of fencing has been tumbling down for years, but it started me thinking about how growing up in that house had shaped my ideas about boundaries.

There’s a paddock on the other side of the house and I can remember there being a stile that you had to clamber over in order to get into the field.

581478_644062698937517_1244216414_nThe normal occupants of this field were sheep, but eventually my mother decided that she wanted to divide the field in two and plant an orchard and a vegetable patch instead. The vegetable patch faded after a few years when interest and time waned, and instead the paddock became an overgrown wilderness for my sister and I to enjoy.

After marching through the wilds of the Ol’ Veg Patch, we braved the unknown of the Overgrown Garden and dug for treasure to smuggle back to the house.

There was a surprising amount of broken crockery in the garden and many a sunny day was spent trying to piece the fragments back together . I’ve sort of covered this before in Farm Archaeology, but hey ho. Wow, I’ve just checked and that post was over a year ago. I can’t believe it’s been that long.

Back onto the topic of boundaries. The only real one that my sister a1536599_10202916867827317_202151837_n.jpgnd I really had was the brook half way down the drive. This little stream of water marked the boundary between Ash and Higher Heath, but also the end of our free run. Granted that free run went for a quarter of a mile down the lane so it wasn’t as if we were short of space.

In summer we could go paddling but we could go no further without an adult.

For me it marked the end of safety and the start of real danger. The woods beyond were dark and shadowy and you didn’t know who you’d find in them. Even as an adult they still daunt me a little bit.

I suppose that while my sister and I had these physical boundaries, we never really had any creative ones. Our childhoods were ones of mud pies, digging for treasure and made up games that went on for days.

We were as free as you can get.


  1. Typical city people, neighbors are more ‘physically based’—whether they really (or should I say barely?) know each other or not, while those in the countryside are more ’emotionally based’—covering a much wider proximity. I was ‘there’, once. I guess our boundaries (countryside people’s) are way more ‘mingled’, eh? 🙂


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