22 Things you’ll know if you come from a small town.

I live in the middle of nowhere. Often when people say that they actually mean they live at least 20 minutes from their nearest Nando’s and a bit of a walk to the bus stop or train station. But I live just outside of a small touristy town in Dorset, England. It’s often featured on those Instagram travel blogger pages, don’t get me wrong it is pretty and a perfect place  to shoot a candid or a landscape shop but to me, I’m just seeing all the cobbles I’ve tripped over and all the drunken memories I’ve got of us larking about as teenagers.

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I’ve always lived in the countryside and have dreamt of living in an exciting big city for as long as I can remember. Don’t get me wrong it was a lovely a place for me to grow up as I never felt unsafe and could play out with my friends all the time. People who live in bigger towns or cities don’t realise the actual first world problems we face on a day to day basis, how utterly headbanging it can be living in the literal cowpat middle of nowhere and how life can be a little bit more like Hot Fuzz than Countryfile than first anticipated.

You can always tell who belongs in a big city and who’s just visiting. 

If you’re in London and you have to check the tube maps then you’re definitely not from those ends. Or if you apologize when someone bumps into you or you bump into them. OR if you actually wait at a pedestrian crossing…Jus saying. I honestly feel like I have mad Arthur Weasley vibes when I’m trying to navigate myself 3 stops on the same Tube line.

Learning to drive is a must.

I live in a village with a few buses a day and a train station in the next town along as soon as I could I learnt to drive so I could do all the fun things you do at 17 like driving all your mates around a Tesco car park at 10pm at night. Learning to drive little, narrow mud splattered country lanes I swear is more nerve wracking than a motorway.

 Manoeuvring around each and every pothole meticulously.

Investing in a 4×4 sometimes feels like the safest option rather than mourn your suspension everytime you drive to the shops.

Planning going out out around buses and train times.

My nearest nightclubs are either in the next town town and is a complete dive (it’s on an industrial estate and they still have under 18s nights, grim I know right) or in Salisbury which is a 30 minute train journey away.  So if we fancy a night of embarassing ourselves in a ‘Spoons we have to either get the last train home at 11, pay a ridiculous amount for a taxi home (honestly feel like I could actually charge someone for a piggyback ride for cheaper) or have to pay for a cheap hotel for the night just so you can get truly Naomi Campbell’d.

Local Newspapers.

Before we got fire, wifi and FaceBook (Y’know the 3 necessities in life) the local paper was like the Facebook of it’s time. It was practically read as gospel. If it wasn’t in the Blackmore Vale then did it really even happen??? No one is born and no one passes away without it being a part of the births, deaths and marriages page. Similarly I have way too much fun having a bit of a giggle at the cringy dating page. Turns out there is a lot of people in my local area looking for a discreet something on the side.

Local Newspaper headlines.

Full credit to some of the journalists who make a living trying to find the biggest, best and most exciting ‘scoop’. The most exciting thing that happened in my town was that someone would move for sale signs and put them in front of someone else’s house. Or when the local antique shop got their giant Punch and Judy statue stolen from their front window. It dominated headlines for weeks.

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Photo credit: @CosRyan

That moment of pure hometown glory when you see it appear on the News or on the weather map. 

Fete’s / Carnivals.

Carnivals in the countryside are a just a liiiiiiittle bit different to something like Notting Hill or Rio for instance. Think of it as a cross between Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, Jeremy Kyle, about 20 tractors pulling floats and about 60,000,000 flashing LED lights.

I mean, I may have made out that carnival’s sound horrendous but it’s pretty much always for charity and LOOK how much fun this guy is having?! You can’t say we don’t make our own fun! And also Health and Safety would have a FIELD DAY here. 

Weird Traditions.

Are you even from a small town in the middle of nowhere if you don’t have some sort of weird tradition??? I really don’t mean like some sort of voodoo ritual like you all think us hillbilly folk do but like summer fetes, gardening shows, allotments and carnivals. For instance near Gloucester there is a competition to chase a wheel of cheese down a steep hill. But we do claim Glastonbury in the West country, so swings and roundabouts I guess!?

 

No one ever knows where you’re from. 

I went to a 3 day conference for work a few years ago and the table all took it in turns to introduce themselves and say their name and where they were from. There were the obvious ones like Cardiff, Birmingham, Stockholm (It was a weird mix of people I won’t lie, not quite as iconic as New York, London, Paris but maybe one day it will be who knows???) But then everyone turned to face the little country bumpkin that is  me and I said I was from Shaftesbury in Dorset to which none of them really knew where that was until one exclaimed loudly that she absolutely loved when she saw Cats in the West End and stayed in a lovely hotel just off of Shaftesbury Avenue…

No signal. 

Oh my days this is the bane of my life. I spend about 90% of my phone calls shouting ‘YEAH I CAN HEAR YOU, CAN YOU HEAR ME????’.  I think I might have had full signal on my iPhone at home once. Then I moved my phone by a quarter inch off of my bed and it was gone again.

Literally ever.

It was practically a grand event where I’m from when a shop goes Contactless. God knows what’ll happen when they discover Apple Pay. OR fibre optic broadband.

The old adage goes that in London or any other big city, you’re never more than 6ft away from a rat, well in a small town I reckon it’s the same law of averages about people you went to school with. 

Deliveroo is a myth.

The nearest Topshop, cinema, civilization is about 20 miles away. 

Praise the Lord for online shopping and free returns is all I can say.

More indie shops.

You know me, I love an independently run shop, coffee shop, cafe, restaurant or whatever and smaller towns have such interesting high streets whereas bigger towns or cities can sometimes look all the same, littered with the exact same high street stores.

EVERYTHING INVOLVES COMMUTING.

Traffic.

Congestion can often have a different meaning from a queue of cars, to being stuck behind a tractor or a farmer taking his cows from one field to the other. One slight benefit is that you’ve always got an excuse if you’re running late and happened to be stuck behind a tractor, again. I really hope none of my friends see this because I am ALWAYS running late and there’s always a tractor going slow. HONEST. Ahem.

Everyone knows everyone.

It’s more than likely your friends have dated someone you’re somehow distantly related to.

Pubs everywhere.

Some of them quaint and charming, some of them filled with old men that stare at you as if you’ve walked in with a vial of Anthrax with a pint of local cider.

Country pubs are better than clubs and bars. 

Biased but if you can find me a bar or a club in the middle of London that serves a ploughmans, has a log fire and a cuddly pub dog then HIT. ME. UP.

Everyone is friendly. 

I live in a village that if you pass someone you must always say ‘Hello!’ or ‘Good Morning’ or at least comment on the weather. You look like a bit of a weirdo in a city wishing strangers a good morning so maybe it’s just a small town thing.

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As much as I whinge and moan about the trivial things it really is quite beautiful and will always feel just like home. I can’t imagine growing up anywhere else. And sometimes when you want to take a few moments away from social media, the lack of signal has it’s benefits.

MUCH LOVE.X

 

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Friendship breakups and why they’re totally ok.

When you get dumped by a boyfriend or a girlfriend there is practically a whole shelf or two in Waterstones on what to do, how to dress and how to think so you can carry on living your best life. You can reinvent yourself giving yourself that full fringe you’ve just decided upon, grab your gals and that new LBD you’ve seen in New Look and paint the town red. Or just head into your local Vodka Revs and cry into several pornstar martinis whilst spamming pics all over your Insta feed of just how FIIIIIINE you’re looking. OK I digress but you get my point. As I sit here typing this, as someone who’s gone through the besties forevz cycle several times, I wonder why there isn’t a book, a notice, a giant banner somewhere to say, breaking up with a friend is totally OK. Better than okay in fact, sometimes it’s simply just life. As I get older (listen to me eh!?! I’m only 23 sounding as if I’m 57 years old sat on a porch decking in Alabama telling you all my wisest thoughts) I’ve come to realise that it gets so much harder to actually meet people and make proper true friendships. Especially if you’re an extroverted introvert like me. I like to go out but I also like coming back home to my comfy bed just that little bit more. Ya feel me? There’s a plethora of apps out there to meet the person of your dreams, or nightmares whatever you’re into I guess, but what are you supposed to do when you’re in your twenties, you don’t want to join the W.I and have grown apart from all your school friends because you’re not the same person you were 6 years ago?

There is no secret in the fact that I spend the majority of my life and my time online. Just take a look at my Instagram or Twitter feed which shows some sign of life on the daily. You see what I have for breakfast, me live tweeting my commute to work and a sneaky snapchat update of me filtered to the max complaining about another humpday slump. For me it was only natural I fell into a blogging community as I love, love, lurrve writing and reading interesting blog posts. But similarly because I have a about 3 real life friends and count you folk online as some of my closest pals. It was an easy gateway into chatting to and making internet pals with some of the loveliest, funniest likeminded people dotted all over the planet. Even though I’ve never met some and they could be the world’s most extravagant catfish stunt posing as a lifestyle blogger from Dorset. Imagine that eh!? I hasten to add I am not. I am me, I am the girl in the pics, writing these nonsensey essays in the hopes that y’all are reading/liking/wishing we were IRL besties too. If only there was a tinder or plenty of fish app so you could swipe right on potential pals. If you’re into trash tv, copious amounts of alcohol, being a bit of a dork and eating lots of food then please enquire within.

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I’ve always known I wasn’t a normal child and not quite the same as the others, maybe it was the day I shoved a jewellery bead up by nose aged four just to see if I could and actually got it stuck and could have potentially died. It is funny, you can laugh, I am, we can all gather round and have a good old giggle about it now, laugh at baby Abbie doing something silly for a lol and almost dying in the process. I should have known from a young age my inability to fit in and also my complete lack of common sense when it comes to doing anything to make myself and others chuckle, whether with me or at me, would run throughout my life. I’ve always been fairly outgoing and sociable for as long as I can remember really. My mum is probably one of the chattiest people in this entire universe so either my sister or I were bound to inherit that trait. She’s the type of person who could go to the supermarket to grab a few bits on a whim and come out with a new best friend, the phone number of a long lost relative she happened to have bumped into in the frozen aisle (arguably the worst out of all the supermarket aisles in my opinion) and a pen pal from Outer Mongolia who’s just visiting for the weekend. It became a bit of a running joke in my household the way in which my madre can just speak to people and develop almost genuine bonding moments and friendships. Something I’ve always been a wee bit jealous about.

I’ve always found it quite difficult actually keeping and maintaining friends. I am a bit of a chatterbox once you get me going and could quite easily sit for hours discussing anything from conspiracy theories to Eastenders to any random thought bubble that pops into my brain like why the chocolate chips don’t melt when you bake yo cookies?!?That’s probably one of the only reasons I liked working in retail is that I could talk to people and pretend I was actually doing my job but in fact I was having a chinwag with Judy in payroll about Eastenders that week. Is it any wonder my former employer then started logging phone calls that were longer than five minutes??? Sorry about that one Judes. I have had as many ‘best friends forevers’ as I have had lip balms both holding stark similarities to how I quickly lose them before long. Oh the LOLs. But to tell the truth, when I see those interactions between lifelong friends, sharing in jokes from actual DECADES ago, their families being close, sharing pivotal life moments from first crushes, to first relationships, from first hangovers, to work dramas, to real life dramas and all the boring little bits in between that actually mean a lot. Like what their Starbucks order is (mine is either a skinny vanilla latte, iced peach green tea lemonade or the gingerbread latte. Depending on the season obvs. Or what snacks to bring when your bestie is going through a really sucky life crisis and you know only a big tub of Ben and Jerry’s finest Phish Food will get them through. I get so jealous knowing that I’ll never properly have that. *CUE MAJOR DAILY MAIL ESQUE SAD FACE*.

At the humble age of 23 it’s starting to make me wonder. Is it me? I seem to be the common denominator here. When I was at primary school I was best friends with a girl called Hattie, we went round for tea at each other’s houses all the time and I remember sleepover’s at hers playing with her huuuuuuge Betty Spaghetty dolls collection (who needed an iPad back in those days?!) However she moved to Texas when we were about 10 or 11 and we kept in touch for a bit sending each other letters and parcels but after a couple years the effort on each end lessened and well we kinda got on with our lives, I was starting secondary school and well she was in America after all. I couldn’t be *that* weird kid at in a big new school of over 2000 kids who’s only friend lived about 5000 miles away. I went through secondary school with a fair few different friendship groups not really fitting in or sticking with a particular set. Looking back now, really I’ve got to give credit to my family for actually remembering their names after a while because it was almost a new person every week. This theme pretty much carried on throughout sixth form having a group of pals but not being particularly close to that one person in particular. I had friends but like I didn’t have that close bond I really wanted. Part of me thinks that’s just life and discovering who you are and your actual self. I don’t think I should feel shamed or that I’m fickle for flitting from one to the other. It’s not like I abandoned a friend in a foreign country cos I couldn’t be bothered and someone much better or shinier came along. Like I’m not that bad.

I’m a big believer in that everything happens for a reason whether that be you walking into a glass door twice within the space of about 11 seconds (true story it was embarassing it was in Accessorize in Salisbury, Wiltshire and it hurt my pride a heck of a lot more than it hurt my face tho) or whether that be the people or your experiences of things all play an important and equally vital part of who you are and what you’re like. Friends, family, colleagues, bosses (both the grumpybum ones and the kind ones) mistresses or lovers whether they are part time people in your life or full time can all hold an equally positive or an equally negative effect on you. Experiences shape you like work and university or whatever you go through so the things you have in common with someone are no longer the same anymore.

I’ve got to the point in myself where I can kinda say I’m quite happy on my own. I mean at the back of my mind I sometimes think or wonder whether in the future I’ll ever be someone’s bridesmaid or who would be mine? Jumping the gun a little bit there as a single woman but I hope you get what I mean. When I was in my teens this type of thing would have probably really affected my mental health and would have left me feeling really rubbish and like it was all me and not like a normal thing the majority of people go through.

I haven’t always been the perfect friend or pal either and I can admit that. I’ve been selfless and I’ve been selfish. I’ve cut people off of literally ghosted the pants off a friendship as it was easier than having it out with them. I’ve ignored messages hoping that the other person would just realise that my week long replies aren’t because I’m really *really* busy (no one is that busy I mean especially not me) and eventually give up. And the same has happened back to me so you could quite easily sit back and read this all and say well this is all karma. I’m only 23 years old. That’s practically foetal still in the grand scheme of life living. Yes I’ve probably hurt people, upset many and annoyed plenty too so I want to take this space to apologize for that. Truly.

With some people; I just simply grew tired of putting up with bad behaviour. Nothing illegal like but just toxic friendships like someone not treating me the way a friend should. Not making the effort or blowing me off at the last minute to do something else with someone else. I put up with that type of thing for ages because I didn’t have any other friends or any other choices. I grew fed up of always being the one putting the olive branch out to negative people and then getting slapped in the face with it. Some say I’m fickle for how I can give up on a friendship but I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to fit in for other people. pleasing other people and not myself.

Sometimes it’s all just about cutting the wheat from the chaff and seeing people for what they are or for what their purpose in your life is. Some people are your friends because you went to the same school together and played in the same hockey club and both watched tracy beaker, some people you just bonded with whilst you were at uni and it would be you and them against the world out every night at your local Oceana cheese rooms and some people are your friends because you worked in the same place and both didn’t like the boss and could take longer lunches together. Buuuuuut once you leave those places and surroundings it can grow harder to keep those common things between you both, well….in common. This shouldn’t be seen as a fault on you or them, but just a factor of life and simply how the oat and raisin cookie crumbles. Like rather than seeing it as a bad thing, see it as a I had such a lovely time at X place because Y would make me laugh so hard I sounded like an overjoyed seal every single damn day.

This is all probably going to sound like the ramblings of a mad woman but I don’t really care because it’s heartfelt. Everybody deserves the good things, the nice things, the shiny, pretty things. So if you a gorgeous abundance of friends that has such an unbreakable bond I hope you know that I’m a wee bit (ok totally) jealous. And if you notice me liking the ultra cute pics of you all together all dressed up before a night out, know that I probably smashed that like button a little bit too passively aggressively wishing it was me photoshopped in the background looking amazing and a little drunkeyed.