My View, Mel Hewitt: Why I long for simpler, healthier lifestyle

Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers in The Good Life
Felicity Kendal and Richard Briers in The Good Life

Earlier this month a job opportunity in a remote part of north West Scotland was the focus of much press attention.

Scoraig Primary School needs a new teacher for its five pupils.

One feature of this post is, it seems, having to be rowed across the loch to the school.

Now, I don’t know about you but there are times – strangely more frequent the older I get – when living on a beautiful peninsula that takes time and a little trouble to get to appeals enormously.

Watching television productions like ‘Cider with Rosie’, aired last weekend on the BBC, only underlines this sense that there is a bucolic and fulfilling lifestyle to be had somewhere out there. Set during the First World War and the 1920s in rural Gloucestershire, this famous book of childhood and adolescence recalled by Laurie Lee, cannot fail to charm – even though there are aspects that we would no doubt find harsh and confining in our modern world.

Brought up in Sprotbrough in the 1930s my dad could remember the last remnants of an older, perhaps simpler, world as a small boy. Douglas Bader’s mother, wife of Vicar Hobbs, would chat with my grandmother, asking after her eight children. My dad used to recall her beautiful blue eyes and graciousness in later years.

Only a few years before in 1926 Sprotbrough Hall, where my husband’s grandmother had been cook, had been demolished and the gates by the Lodge at the entrance to Park Drive would soon be a memory.

Swimming in the Don was a popular pastime for the boys and sadly brought tragedy to the village.

A young lad, who had the same name as my dad, fell in the Don near the weir and at first the news came to my grandmother that it was my father who had drowned. One can only begin to imagine the impact that day had on the close knit community.

In 1975 when ‘The Good Life’ started we had a first glimpse of what life might be like if we gave up the day job and planted potatoes.

Who could fail to be seduced by the contraptions Tom made, and the animals? Whilst the buffer of having generous neighbours Jerry and Margo, who had remained very firmly rooted in the ‘rat race’ was – whether they wanted to admit or not – a real help to Tom and Barbara, the flavour of going self sufficient was really captured in this hugely popular series.

I’m sure many of us have wondered if we could really give up all our creature comforts and reap the more natural rewards of a simpler and healthier lifestyle.

In reality, the freezing mornings and backbreaking work aren’t often part of this vision, so I’ll be staying put for the moment. I may buy a rustic loaf and bread today though and just dream.