I thought long and hard about having children: When to have them. Who to have them with. Where to bring them up. Yet even in these early days (a 2 year-old and 10 month-old now in tow) it’s evident I only got one of these considerations spot on, and that was where to bring them up. My answer? Cornwall.
With flexible working, transient communities and our friends and family spanning the globe, these days we can bring up families pretty much anywhere. I thought about returning to Australia – not my native land but none-the-less a place I love for its heady and seductive combination of sunshine, beaches and people who are gung-ho for life. Then there was the option of relocating closer to my family. Sorry, but for me Grannies on tap are no compensation for a life within the limits of suburbia.
In Cornwall my children are rich in all the ways I could wish for them. Sand, sea and bucketfuls of fresh air are their currency and they love being outdoors whatever the season. The beach, the woods and the dunes are everyday environments for biking, tree climbing, scrambling, kite flying, running wild and eating sand. Taking them shopping is akin to taking wild goats into town.
Although we’re not wealthy in the same way as our city friends, what price can be attributed to the health, time and happiness we are banking here? Even if money was so tight I couldn’t afford to run a car, it’s a short trot over the dunes to the beach, or an even shorter scoot down the hill to the park and skate ramp. We haven’t compromised on more practical amenities either – there’s a supermarket, school and children’s centre a quick buggy stroll away, not to mention the surf lifesaving club and the library.
We’re not yet chained to a routine of childcare and schooling, but I hope when we are that the assets of our location are leapt upon before and after the school bell: walks to school along the coast path, after-class family surfs, dinner at the beach. In the long-term perhaps our location might turn out to be more important than the less-consistent father figure who has already flown the family nest. Who knows? Knowing my luck both my boys will grow up hankering to live in the hubbub of a city and earn stacks of money. I only hope that their coastal upbringing is engrained in their prosperity and wellbeing, wherever they end up.