I’m not entirely sure Biggleswade counts as the “country”, is this a measurable quality? I’ve had a quick Google, and there doesn’t seem to be a definition. We’ve moved from Hatfield in Hertfordshire, with a population of 116,000 in 2014 (this is the population of the Welwyn Hatfield Borough, so does include Welwyn Garden City, so maybe half that for Hatfield? 58, 000). In 2014 Biggleswade had a population of 18,130. This is a way more exact number, highlighting just how small it is.Ok, so less people in the town, but that can’t be all that makes it the country, there are smaller towns, nearer cities, that must not count as country living.
Here are my arguments for Biggleswade being the country:
• My commute to the station includes a walk (cycle nowadays) past a farm. They have sheep and alpacas. This is a lot more country than my old commute past the empty cider cans.
• My partner and I enjoy the occasional takeaway, but we get a lot less now, the only options on hungryhouse are all Indian takeaways. I do really enjoy an Indian meal, but there’s only so many you can have in a month.
• There are a lot of farm shops, pretty much every road out of Biggleswade has a farm shop on it. This isn’t a bad thing, I enjoy a good garden centre, and if I can combine a mooch with a breakfast cooked with meat and eggs from the local farm, perfect.
• When out for a walk/run/cycle, if you head north out of the town to the Common, or south towards the wind turbines, you will probably have to cross the train tracks at a level crossing. The first time I had to do this I sent a picture to my mum informing her I didn’t think I was old enough for this kind of responsibility. I now cross like a pro.
• On my walk home from the station a few weeks ago, there was a house with pots of saplings outside, and a sign saying “Free trees, please take one”. Seriously!
• We have house martins nesting in the apex of our roof. This does mean there is a lot of bird poop on the ground outside the backdoor, but there are actual birds, living in close proximity to me. I sat on my sun lounger last night, with a Crabbies, and watched them swoop in and out, feeding their chicks.
• Livestock is a big one for me. I’m not used to farm animals being so close. Normally they’re behind a fence when I visit a farm. On my first run in Biggleswade I had to slow right down as there were cows on the path. And more recently, on a walk round the Common, I was directed to “the gate by the horses”. So many horses. I wasn’t sure I was going to get through alive. As it was, they just seemed grumpy that I wasn’t there to feed them.
• My train was delayed on the way home yesterday, the reason? A tractor on the track.
And, of course, the big one:
• We’re able to afford a house with a garden. We paid £275k for a three bed house, with a garden and a separate garage. Doing a quick rightmove search shows that we could have had the same thing in Hatfield for around £375k.
I only have one reason Biggleswade may not count as the country:
• There are no good pubs. That’s probably unfair, I’m sure there are some good pubs, but there are no pubs with good beer gardens. If this were the country, there’d be lots of land, and therefore the pubs could have beer gardens.
Not really related to the question of the article, but fun nevertheless. During my research I discovered a gold coin with the word “Coenwulf” was found on the banks of the river Ivel, near Biggleswade. This is the eighth known gold coin to have been unearthed in Britain, and was eventually bought by the British Museum for £357,832.
Needless to say, I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled for gold from now on, imagine the mansion I could buy.