My last week was dominated by a less-than-tranquil experience of finding student property again. I always try and better my accommodation every time I move; this was a very ambitious job since I had a beautiful (unfurnished) place in third year. Well I have now settled down… on a farm in Scotland!
I won’t be publishing my address online (sorry scammers) but I have moved into a cottage in Fife that is really quite the charm. The property is really large, spanning many, many acres surrounded by arable farming all around the boundaries. Rabbits and deer run wild, squirrels are numerous too. And why did I take out such “posh” accommodation? Ironically because I couldn’t afford the university’s own! There are times when you know you got a “good deal”, maybe Trump would be proud. This is my deal of the year so far.
My cottage consists of four rooms
It is very modest. No gas heating as well, so I am provided with (and have offered to cut) timber from the forest around to use in the stove. There are electrical heaters all around, but the countryside lifestyle in me prefers the woody smoke in the lounge on these cold Scottish nights. On a separate point on temperature, I don’t think many people (at least not me) understand initially how cold it is.
Another real gem here is the scenery. I am spoiled for vistas when waking up, with excellent light (c.f. Gardeners “Cottage” – my non cottage in Durham last year which was very dark) and the fresh air is also beneficial. The natural area is a great escape from the built environment and offers one time and space to reflect on matters outside of academia and employment – two big concerns for anyone at this stage in life.
With all these lovely benefits comes one large con – it gets lonely. This is also underestimated at first. I have two very kind and respectable (elderly) landlords living quite close, but one can’t pop round for tea every single night. Being a good many miles away from the University doesn’t make matters easier for finding people. While halls owned and operated by the University can be expensive (£8500/50 wks), you’re a five second walk away from humanity. I’m now obliged to attend as many drinks receptions (but not drink ironically) and meetups in town as possible. Also the occasional single-glazed window in the cottage is a bit prone to letting out heat, but the real deficiency isn’t warmth – it’s companionship.