Apologies to anyone reading who hasn’t been basking in balmy summer temperatures this week, this post may be a little annoying! We have enjoyed the most beautiful sunny last week of September since the 80’s apparently (why do Brits love a weather fact?) and London has been transformed into a summertime city for the last seven days.
I love living in London whatever the weather, but this week the city has sprung to life with an energy and vibrancy that makes me vow to never live anywhere else. As many of my friends struggle to find appropriate places for their aging parents to live, lots of our recent conversations have centred around where and how we are going to live when we get old. We joke about communes in Bloomsbury and old peoples homes by the sea, but as we all know, where we live is vitally important for a happy old age and this is a serious issue we are all going to face.
On Tuesday when the Today programme asked on Twitter ‘Is the city or the countryside the best place to live when you are old?’ and commented ‘You can’t live in the country if you are a a senior citizen and don’t drive,’ Amanda and I both replied without question ‘the city of course’. For us, being able to walk to interesting and useful shops and restaurants in less than five minutes is really important. It’s not so much about shopping – although it’s great to be able to buy pretty much anything, including, freshly made bread, nuts and bolts, organic meat and fruit and vege from all over the world – but more about having a chat with the local shop keepers, meeting up with friends and neighbours and interacting with the world in general.
I know for sure when I am an old women, these things will become more and more important and the thought of getting in the car for a loaf of bread, even now, is a step too far. I like to walk or cycle and if I need to go on a longer journey I’ll hop on a bus and read my book. When I walk the dog I like to meet other people for a chat, I’m continually fascinated by the diversity of the people I encounter on a daily basis, I find the sound of sirens and people walking past my house at 3am strangely comforting and most importantly I like to feel like I’m part of a big city, which is full of life. None of this is going to change as get older, in fact I think it will probably become more important.
My 77 year old neighbour is an example of how I want to live in the future, she is a regular in the local pub, knows all the local gossip, has loads of friends and cooks (delicious food) for everyone in the street. When her children tried to persuade her to move to the suburbs to be nearer to them, she said to me ‘why would I do that, I might as well be dead, every day is like a Sunday’.
I couldn’t have put it better myself! What do you think, where do you want to grow old, the city or the country?