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Wednesday, 9 February, 2000, 09:03 GMT
Is life better in the countryside?

Less crime, better schools and higher employment are some of benefits of living in the countryside. This is the message from Prime Minister Tony Blair as he tries to woo rural voters.

But with fewer schools, shops and doctors, is rural life really an idyllic dream?

Are you longing to cross the urban-rural divide, and why? Do you agree with Tony Blair?

HAVE YOUR SAY I have never heard so much rubbish as stated by Carl (UK). If he cares to think about it, country dwellers also pay taxes (surprise,surprise) at the same level as City dwellers. Unfortunately, country dwellers do not have the same levels of infrastructure as those in the cities.
Peter, UK

As a virtual worker, I have an office in rural New England, as well as one in New York. Back in the blessed days when we were all connected only by the phone, life in the mountains seemed more relaxed. Then, I used to imagine that if I worked at my family's country home, I'd have more time to enjoy the great outdoors. That dream has come true. But the reality of life in the "aught" years, especially in the USA, is that, country or city, you're still faced with deadline pressures and extended work hours. And, in the extended and gloriously warm days of summer and fall, nothing beats a walk in the woods at the close of a 6 p.m. conference call. There, I can linger and savour the sound of silence...the smell of the earth.
Don, USA

At the moment I am at University in Durham which is a cross between a town and the countryside. Coming from an industrial town in the Midlands, it is a nice change to be away from the dirt produced by industry and the traffic pollution which occurs in towns. Also, I feel that living in a place which is a town in the country helps to make you feel less stressed about things as there is not continuous rushing. However one can also enjoy the benefits of a town, such as shops and other general amenities.
Laura Campbell, United Kingdom

In Canada, country life is great and healthy and wonderfully long as one understands that it means less amenities, longer travel, longer hours, and good, healthy physical work. If you don't love that, stay in Toronto.
Kristian Gustafson, Canada

Hardly any other industries received help when they suffered during the 1980's and 90's so in an open market why should the farmers get any more help?
Kevin Archer, UK
The countryside is great if you have a job or money, but if your poor then it stands to reason that amenities are further away and transport very difficult. I understand some of what Blair is saying, and have little sympathy for the farmers who whine, they vote Tory and have been receiving aid for years. Hardly any other industries received help when they suffered during the 1980's and 90's so in an open market why should the farmers get any more help?
Kevin Archer, UK

The debate is becoming polarised as the pro-hunt lobby attempt to show the country as all that is good and the cities as all that is bad. If my business fails, I don't expect the government to subsidise my chosen lifestyle, as farmers do. If you like the countryside then fine, stay there but don't expect the taxes of city dwellers to support you.
Carl, UK

I have nostalgic memories of rural Essex from my childhood. On a recent visit to the UK I returned to these haunts. I guess, it is a pity that my memories were based on Essex, as what I found were freeways galore, fast food outlets, and sprawling suburbia. Guess the answer is, if you live in the country but prefer the city, just wait a while your wish is on its way to you.
Tom, Australia

Living in the countryside is great! People are so friendly in my part of Wales. I enjoy going to the towns and cities for shopping trips and enjoy visiting my Aunt in Southampton but enjoy coming home more. In my opinion urban areas are an eyesore and more rural areas should be preserved by the government for future generations. If this had been done 20 years ago maybe my generation would have more countryside and green areas to relax in and look forward to visiting.
Vicky McAndrew, Pembrokeshire, Wales,

Let's face it, life in the country is great! It's easier to be poor in the country. I live in a one-room cabin with an outhouse, a clear brook nearby, free firewood, and abundant game. I work when I feel like it and my 1982 VW diesel gets me far enough. I grow my own food and barter with the neighbours for milk and eggs. I have no debts, no bank accounts, no charge cards, and pay no taxes. There is a public library nearby with free internet and email. Am I having a nice day?
Mikey M, USA

I grew up in a city, moved to a suburb and could not wait to return to the city. There is no life in the suburbs
Arnold, USA
I grew up in a city, moved to a suburb and could not wait to return to the city. There is no life in the suburbs. Each person stays at home or in his or her back yard. Every car has only one person adding to congestion and pollution. There is no mass transit. At town meetings, every one thinks their own view is the only correct view and there is no compromise. There is no sense of community in the suburbs, where most travel more than an hour to work in the city and only sleep at home. Back in the city, I know and socialise with my neighbours in an apartment building.
Arnold, USA

One of the nice things about Hawaii is how large a part nature plays in our city, Honolulu. It helps to create a rural feel to a city of nearly a million people. You could choose to live in a place like Mokuleia that is quite and slow, or the faster pace of Kaimuki. The true goal is neither urban nor rural but a mixture of the best elements of each into one setting. It is possible, and you couldn't pay me to live anywhere else.
Osiris Johnson, Hawaii, USA

As a 20 year old who was brought up in the countryside and now lives in the city, I would have to say that the city offers much more in the way of life opportunities like work/qualifications/social life etc. Moving to the city was the best move I ever made, and unless country life improves significantly in these key areas, I can't see myself going back.
Gordon Boyle, Scotland

Certainly not! It may be better for stagnating in but for living the cities win every time.
Claire Attal, UK
Those people who have made comments about rural life seem to have missed the point. It is not about city people enjoying life in the country, it is about the people born and bred in rural areas, who are suffering as a result of current government policies. The people who have come to live in rural areas and commute to work in the cities have ruined the rural communities by not using the village shops, pubs, post offices, schools, etc. They think that living in the country is wonderful, but at the end of the day they go back to their city employment and amenities.
Ifor Jones, Wales

Is there life in the country? It appears dead every time I drive by and with the nasty whiffs floating over the fields it smells like it too.
Mark Verth, UK

It might be better in the UK but it's hell over here. We live in the middle of nowhere and it's a hell of a drive to find even the smallest hint of civilisation. Oh to be back in New York!
Sue Heap, USA

Life is what you make it, wherever you live.
William Heatfield, UK
Life certainly used to be better in the country but the times they are a-changing. Vast tracts of land are being sold off to developers on which they build truly ghastly dwellings to be sold for astronomical prices. Locals like myself cannot afford to buy property nor are we able to buy a small bit of land to build a sympathetic dwelling. Then, just to rub salt into our wounds, we have to suffer constant complaining from the newcomers who are offended by the smells and animal activity of the countryside. At this rate I'll be moving to town.
Felicity Armhaus, UK

People who love living and working in the country are entitled to their lifestyle. Why they expect the rest of the nation to subsidise it, I'll never know.
Andrew, Born in the country live in London

Cash machines in village post offices? In which demolished shop or boarded-up pub am I to spend my money? Decisions, decisions...
Adam Middleton, UK

Life in the British countryside was once the envy of the world, and now it's an absolute joke.
Christopher Blight, Australia
I left the Family Dairy Farm in Cornwall 12 years ago to start a new life in Australia, as I felt that rural life was being eroded by poor government policy. Today, Cornwall is one of poorest counties south of the Humber. It's about time someone had the political will to put it right, because life in the British countryside was once the envy of the world, and now it's an absolute joke. The only country in the EU where the rural identity has been maintained is in France. So come on Tony Blair you are Rural Britain's last hope, before it's too late.
Christopher Blight, Australia

All these farmers and countryside folk moaning on about the government. Funny, I don't remember seeing them marching through the streets when the last lot in power were laying waste to hundreds of mining communities and who, incidentally, are largely responsible for the crisis currently facing rural communities.
Jonathan, England

I really appreciate the fact that I live in the countryside, whenever I have to go to a city for my work. Cities are OK, but give me the countryside any day; the cleaner air, the sound of silence. Nature. It's natural, and many city people are in danger of forgetting how to appreciate and respect nature.
Phil W, UK

I grew up in London, but throughout my childhood I always wanted to live 'in the country'. Well, now I do. My ambition is realised; and I love it. I live in a terrific village with a well-developed community spirit ... and ... I surf the net chatting to some friends all over the world. Let's not forget our global village friends out there too! Village life can be isolating ¿ but only if you let it:-)
Phil Circa, UK

Hard question - need to weigh up whether you would miss all the benefits from living in a city (Starbucks on every corner) with how nice it would be to live with little lambs and foals. I say leave the evils of London and go to a fishing village in Spain, where you'll have a fab lifestyle.
Marissa Holden, UK

Where was the countryside when miners were being dammed? Where was the rural support for minority issues and groups?
Robert Carter, UK
There is and has always been an old rump of shallow minded anti Labour feeling in the countryside, I know, I grew up there. What these people are really upset about is that, for once, their agenda isn't the primary concern. They must learn to adapt, stem their greed (farmers in many cases are some of the richest businessmen I have come across) and accept that the rich tapestry of the UK cannot always bow to their idyllic ways.
Where was the countryside when miners were being dammed? Where was the rural support for minority issues and groups? The countryside does need reform, but that will only work if the countryside puts radicalism before conservatism - something I fear they are just not capable of. Finally, whatever agendas are pursued, will the countryside consider animal welfare?
Robert Carter, UK

I would just like to offer my full support for the view of Martin IIes. I couldn't think of a better way of putting it myself.
Jo-Anne Ormerod, England

Without Farmers in the UK we would truly be at the whim of world markets, do you want to risk that with food?
Jon Collins, UK
I was born and have be brought up in the countryside, what planet does Blair live on? I earn a reasonable wage but cannot afford to purchase a house or flat. My family has only had a car for the past four years, and with the decline in the rural bus service getting around has become increasingly difficult.
As for the topic of whinging farmers, how many commuters work the hours that farmers have to, and when a farm goes bust the farmer loses everything, including their house. It is often forgotten that food production can be very variable on a world wide scale, about a year ago the USA had a bad drought in the midwest, there was a world shortage of grain but the EU cut set aside so the shortage was stabilised. Without Farmers in the UK we would truly be at the whim of world markets, do you want to risk that with food?
Jon Collins, UK

Life has changed so much in recent years that we all watch the same TV, we are all homogenised whether we like it or not.
Daryl, UK
I have lived in both country and city and can quite honestly say that I prefer the country. It really annoys me when we get people saying about 'townies coming and ruining our villages'. Life is all about change, if life didn't change how bored would we all be? Can anyone honestly admit to wanting to be in a village where there are no communications, travel doesn't happen and no-one has any form of entertainment?
My point is that life has changed so much in recent years that we all watch the same TV, we are all homogenised whether we like it or not. Sure, I was saddened when the village I lived in lost its shop, but you have to ask, why did it close in the first place?
Life is about people who embrace change and those who don't. If your world changes around you and you don't like it then tough¿that is with it !
Daryl, UK

I love the countryside! I have to admit that as a teenager it was frustrating to get from A to B but now, in my late 20's and with a car life, is much easier! You get used to the fact that there's no public transport and no taxis after midnight. But who cares, when you've got fresh air, friendly people, good old village pubs (not Americanised) and a leisurely 10 minute journey to work (maybe getting held up by the occasional tractor) which is better than a hair-raising slalom to London getting held up by a massive pile up on the Motorway. No thank you - I love to visit the cities but I love to get back to the countryside even more!
Sarah, England

Let's face it, farmers have been taking some hard knocks recently - just like the miners did in the 60/70s or The City and Royalty in the 80/90s. Let's just be sympathetic and do what we can to help. After all, it might be our turn next.
Chrissy Phil, Wales

When I first moved to Wiltshire as a child little did I know that the migration of which I was a part was destroying rural life. The influx of relatively wealthy people drove house prices through the ceiling and the cost of living soon increased as average earnings of the incoming migrants was so much higher.
The net effect was that tenant farmers found their farms sold to housing firms, children from local families found themselves unable to live in the home town because of the cost of accommodation and the social fabric of the market town has been replaced by the considerably colder dormant village, consisting of commuters who know little about their community or neighbours and even less about the countryside.
Peter Vincent, Scotland

The countryside is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want live there.
Martin, UK
The countryside is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want live there. There's so much about living in a city I'd miss. Restaurants, theatres, gigs even shopping. It is nice not to have to drive everywhere, despite all the moaning, I still find public transport in London pretty good.
Martin, UK

I wouldn't live anywhere else but in the country. I've been to cities, and worked in them, and I hated every ghastly moment of it. No, my ideal would be a hillside of my own with neighbours just visible somewhere near the horizon
Bob Harvey, UK, Lincolnshire

The city is a great place to live if you don't have family. Bringing up children in the city, though, can be tough (though, to be fair, some manage/have to do it). Personally, I like the idea that I do not own a door key, that we live in a cul-de-sac with other families, and that my kids are not exposed to the seedier side of city life. But then I live in the suburbs, which is a beautiful compromise between city and country life ... both are near enough to enjoy.
Mark M. Newdick, USA/UK

We only have public transport 2 days per week and then only one bus in and one out.
David, UK
I live in a village which is fine as far as it goes but to earn a living I have to travel 25 miles to the nearest big city. But we only have public transport 2 days per week and then only one bus in and one out. Social Life again requires a car which means more cost and the wrath of John 2 Jags Prescott.
David, UK

It's a miserable place in North Devon: no parking, no access, no overnight camping, no motorbikes, no entry, no BBQ's on the beach, no nude sunbathing - basically it's a no fun place made worse by bleating farmers complaining about tough life is.
Will, UK

We would love to move to the country. I work in the City and have a long commute each day. Unfortunately, the variety of educational opportunities for our children, particularly at A Level, has been a brake on our desire.
Furthermore, I would prefer to live and work in the countryside. Also, as a commuter I feel that I would be unable to make the appropriate contribution to the local community. Perhaps in a few years' time I will take the plunge and downsize when I am confident that my children's education will not be compromised.
Chris Klein, UK

One of the most destructive forces of countryside life is the city commuter family who decides to move to the country.
Martin Iles, UK
One of the most destructive forces of countryside life is the city commuter family who decides to move to the country and along with their vegetarian children use their influence to decide what they think rural life should be like. They will complain if they see a farmer shooting rabbits or pigeons (both of which are a severe agricultural pest), complain about tractors stopping them getting to work, and they will moan about the twice-monthly clay-pigeon shoot half a mile away.
All of their shopping is done at the nearest shopping centre, the local post office is of no use as you have to wait two minutes before you get served, and mummy and daddy don't go to the local pub in case you bump into one of the locals and have to talk to them. They have though, the ultimate passport to the countryside; the AGA cooker.
Martin Iles, UK

I don't understand how people can find others that are thinking same way in cities. In the countryside everybody knows each other and it's easier to communicate.
John Wrath, Finland

We have lived in the country now for the past 8 years. We do have some compensations, freer roads, less congestion, more peace and quiet. But we have many disadvantages - less money, fewer jobs and with this Governments attitude towards the countryside fewer future prospects! They want less development and more access for townies and expect us to flourish? Blair and his advisors have got it wrong - they are living in cloud cuckoo land and have now really lost touch other than with the 'Party Set' from the South East. He's going to lose the next election because reality has become fiction in his cosy little Westminster and 'Chiantishire' worlds.
We're being strangled by high fuel taxes, hikes in rates, and more taxes, but with some of the lowest incomes in the country, average wage about £8-9,000. Way below the national average. Blair and his cronies are lying, blatantly, and we will not forgive him when the election comes.
John Morgan, UK

Life in the country is far better. The lifespan of those who work and live in the country is better because it is much healthier. And, it is interesting that those who live in the cities have very little knowledge of survival while those who live in the country know how to fish, hunt, grow crops, gardens, and live a much more wholesome life.
The city is a place where nobody has time to really experience 'life'. And, that by itself is dangerous. The future will be good for those who live in the country and especially those who know how to do a few things that the city folks never learn.
Dave Adams, USA

Rural living means that you are more isolated and farther away from services.
Jeff, USA
Tony Blair made those remarks primarily to woo rural voters. Urban and rural living have their advantages and disadvantages. Rural living means that you are more isolated and farther away from services.
I lived in London for two years growing up and I did not find it bad as far as big cities go. Compared to other metropolises, it is clean, safe, everything is accessible, user-friendly, offered no end of theatre and other cultural events, many of which I could not easily get to if I lived in the country.
Jeff, USA

I live in an old (by US standards) part of a major city in the west. I'm finding a lot of disenchanted country-folk who have found themselves turned into suburbanites by the urban sprawl - very interested in moving into the urban centre because it offers community, and a real, genuine sense of place that they were looking for in the country.
The problem with sprawl is you end up with no uniqueness, no sense of place - and the country-dwellers sometimes rediscover this quality where they least expect it (the city). I urge everyone not to be afraid of the city! Love your neighbours, and you may find that they love you back.
Alan, USA

We need to stop and think about what the countryside is. There is a strange tendency at the moment to think that the internet can provide solutions to rural problems. In some senses it can, but at the end of the day the countryside is not just another form of suburbia. To actually be countryside it needs the engagement of man with nature, the contact of hand and soil, the stockmen and the countryman.
The countryside can make its own way and pay its own way but not if Government interferes with those who know about the countryside. After the Second World War this country made a massive mistake of not listening to warnings from what were mocked as old-fashioned farmers, the result included the pesticide problems. Mr Blair - do not make this mistake again, listen to your countryside, come out with the working class of the land and quietly and sensibly learn.
M Wright, UK

I moved from the city to the Hudson Valley in the Carskill mountains of New York. The slower pace of like, the beautiful restful mountain scenes both summer and winter relaxes me beyond anything the city could offer me.
Valerie Da Silva, USA

If people in the country did not, en masse, want newcomers they could have refused to sell their properties to them.
Chris Rodger, UK
The only reason that "outsiders" have been able to buy properties in rural areas is that locals have sold it to them. If people in the country did not, en masse, want newcomers they could have refused to sell their properties to them.
Of course this is completely unrealistic - country dwellers are as much driven by the desire to make money as anyone else, so they have been happy to sell out. That is fine - well, we do live in a capitalist society - but please could they stop whinging about it whilst simultaneously pocketing the cash.
I grew up in the country, now live in central London, love both, and can't stand the culture of "gimme, gimme", whether it is farmers, underground train drivers or those who can't be bothered to work.
Chris Rodger, UK

I grew up in the countryside and moved to London at the earliest opportunity and have never looked back.
Jim, UK

There is no "better"! Life in the city is more hurried, with more amenities and public transport, whereas country life is far more laid back, with large amounts of green areas for cultivating or other activities. Town and country have good and bad things about them. Each is better for some things and worse for others.
Alex Knox, UK

There is no countryside to speak of in the United States any more. Greedy developers and bankrupt farmers are making sure of that. In the past 4 years, my rural neighbourhood has seen 5 major housing developments with 250 - 900 homes, 7 strip malls, 2 primary schools, addition to the high school, and 4 more schools on the way. Might as well live in the city..
Susanne, USA

I have lived in London all my life. London cannot be confused with other cities in Britain, it is unique simply by it's scale. I couldn't live in the country, I would feel isolated. I like the fact that I can just jump on a bus or a tube and go to another part of town. I also like the fact that although I've lived here all my life there are still places that I have yet to go to. I can go out into the country if I want some peace, it's not far from where I live, but I look forward to getting back into the big smoke!
Sarah B, London

Life here in the country is great, apart form the whining farmers!
Alan Poacher, UK

I live in a village 10 miles from a major city but it is still rural. Most people who say how great the city is, specifically London are kidding themselves. When they go on about the galleries and restaurants etc. They hardly ever go because they have to pay £50,000 per month on the mortgage on their broom cupboard and have to park their car in the next county. Please don't publish this I don't want the townies moving to my village. Labour policies on the countryside are another issue.
G White, UK

There are two sides to rural life - one is the converted barn, housing an executive and his/her family, very often have 3 cars (including the obligatory Four-Wheeler) in which they commute to the nearest city and the other is the dispossessed and unemployed, miles from the nearest jobs and who have no car. The former makes it hard for the latter to live/work locally and the desirability of rural homes pushes house prices up. If there is a real "crisis in the countryside" and it is not just media hype then this dual aspect of rural life is it.
Andy Freeman, England

As I grew up in London, it is a lonely place for young people. My school was awful and I was lucky to manage to get enough education to get out of London. I live in the country now, and it is bliss. People are friendlier, the place is cleaner. However transport is poor. I also think this is another publicity stunt by Blair.
Ian, Dorset, UK

The city is the world of bodies; the countryside is the world of the soul.
Simon Cameron, UK

Tony Blair would say that wouldn't he. Where else would he find the sheep that he needs to succeed in government?
Steve Hunt-Anschütz, UK

I grew up a country lad and have since moved to the city to get a job. I have to say that although good, rural life was always a little slow and, because of this, drink and drugs are much more prevalent (especially amongst young people) in the country than in the city. Where I grew up this was very much the case and it is a trend that does continue into later life. The rural idyll is not all it is set out to be...
Dr. R. A. Coxall, Scotland

Some aspects of rural life are better, yes: no traffic congestion, less noise, crime and pollution, sensible housing costs. But there is a downside: you need to have your own transport if you're going to have any degree of social-life or a decent job, there are few or no local shops or services and what there is tends to both cost more and offer fewer choices.
Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK

I was born in the country and absolutely hate living in the city. I just wish I could be in a position to move back there.
Barry Allsack, UK

It's obviously down to personal choice. I live in the city, but I'd prefer to live in a rural area. I'd far rather spend an evening in a pub where I can hear and talk to friends rather than be deafened in a characterless city chain-pub. I'd rather be surrounded by farmland and nature (though most of that is now being bulldozed) than a homogeneous concrete landscape. Country life is not the idylic, simple and trouble-free existence it's often portrayed as, but it's definitely for me. Unfortunately, village life is under threat from those moving in from the city and using the village as a pleasant "motel" from which to commute. This is forcing house prices up beyond the means of most longstanding villagers, and is also taking away the community atmosphere. Speaking from experience, many of those moving into the village where my grandparents once lived still retain urban attitudes such as resisting interaction with other villagers etc. I fear country and village life is, ultimately, doomed.
Nigel Barnell, UK

Country life for teenagers can be really depressing. My parents live in the country with my sister who is 17. She has not yet passed her driving test and our local town is 12 miles away (buses are non-existent). My parents are beginning to resent driving her to music classes, parties etc, particularly in the evenings. It is really frustrating for her as she didn't choose to be brought up in the country, only wants to live a normal life and is always greeted with sighs when she asks to be taken into town. If the bus routes were better (and cheaper - not £4.00 for a 12 mile journey)maybe there wouldn't be such a problem. But each family in the country basically needs a car per adult member which rather destroys any "rural idyll" images townies might have. As well as transport, our village shop was burgled twice in two weeks, causing the 70-year old lady who owned it to have a nervous breakdown and close down for good. Country life may be different but it is not idyllic.
Sarah, London

I've just decided to move out of London. I'm sick of having to put an hour either side of anything I do, like meeting friends fo ra pint, for tube travel. I'm sick of the lack of continuity and community and I'm sick of the prices. But I'm not going to the country, because, quite frankly, I'd die without a good choice of restuarants, pubs, bars, and shops. No, I'm finding a middle ground. It's in the form of Brighton, and I can't wait.
Ingrid , London, UK

Rural life can be terribly alienating - just look at the high number of youth suicides that occur in rural areas every year. While the concept of fresh air, bracing walks across the moors and knowing everybody in the local shop can seem appealing, there is a downside. This is seen in the higher use of drink and drugs, the complete lack of anonymity, and intolerance of anyone perceived as different. There is often no space in rural areas for non-conformity, homosexuality for example, and the only way to survive is to deny who you are. This can be deeply depressing and isolating, particularly if you are young. Tony Blair appears to have the idealised view of rural life of many who grew up in the city, and while rural life is not all bad, it is certainly not the nirvana that Blair appears to think it is.
Grainne Phillips, Ireland

I was brought up in the countryside of Mid-Wales, I went to the local school - which had a catchment area of 30miles, Our nearest town of any size was 10 miles away, we had no public transport, our nearest doctor was 5 miles away, in the same village as the one-man police force. Yes, we may have had a lower crime rate, but we also had higher unemployment, higher rates of suicide amongst the young(two in my year by the time we were 16) and farm workers, little or no 'entertainment' for the young in the evenings - for a long time our nearest cinema was nearly 30 miles away, now it's 10 miles, no choice on schools, shops etc, and also higher prices for most things from petrol to groceries. Maybe Mr Blair and Mr Brown feel that the people in the countryside have never had it so good - but how would they know? They've barely visited our countryside let alone lived there!
Siobhan, UK

I think that there are people who 'fit in' to a style of living. You will always have 'city folk' trying out the country life and failing. Mainly due to expecting things to be the same. Country life is slower less hectic and by definition more isolated. It is up to elected people who run these areas to provide the necessary services for young and old alike. But it's up to the voters to make sure that these things are done and making councils and politicians responsible for their actions. So don't whinge at Mr Blair for the troubles, Blame your councillors, They're the one's who run the buses and regulate the abattoirs etc;
Ron Luton-Brown, Norfolk, England

All the interesting jobs are in the cities.

Life in the countryside has never been the idyll it is painted to be. It has always been tough, and now, with rises in petrol taxes budget after budget, small communities and farm houses are getting more and more cut-off. The countryside is under a threat with proposed half-baked house building schemes, threats to jobs and livelihoods, and growing intolerance between the urban and rural populations. No government has ever got things right - and never will. If the politicians had to do the "school run" in the morning because there was no other way to get their child educated, thanks to the successive cutbacks in rural public transport, there may be a few changes. "The Archers" paints a semi-realistic picture of how things are - if it was more true-to-life, I'm sure that the BBC wouldn't broadcast it!!
Amanda Hodgkinson, UK

I have lived in a small rural village for over two years now and the biggest down-fall is the lack of facilities and transportation to get to the nearest town. The local shop and post office has closed down isolating individuals to their homes, there is then a lack of meeting and community spirit. The nearest town is almost ten miles away and with only one bus a week it is not feasible to live in such an area without a car, this means that it is common to see houses with two or more cars. Actually adding to the number of cars on the roads. The roads are a real hazard during the Autumn and Winter, the farmers are constantly coming in and out of fields leaving heavy mud all over the road. The roads are not gritted at any time and I have seen a number of cars lying in the ditches along side the road! The big plus though is the peace and the view of the rolling hills uninterrupted by the concrete blocks.
J.P. Evans, Lincolnshire UK

Yes, country life is better and we don't need Tony Blair to tell us, but there are some problems. With the problems that agriculture has had to face over a number of years the economy isn't as strong as it could be. Village life is being destroyed by the second/weekend home market that makes houses less affordable for those that live there. We have to suffer the Government increases in motoring costs (usually from a higher starting point) along with everyone else - but we don't have a viable alternative as Pete has already pointed out. In the South West (that, by the way doesn't go as far up country as Bristol) we have the highest water charges in the country, mainly due to maintaining the coastline and providing facilities for the annual influx of tourists. But I wouldn't swap it. The clean(er) air, peace, the slow pace of life (that some find hard to deal with) brilliant ! Perhaps the media should also realise that those of us who live in the country are not terribly interested in London's white elephants (like the Dome and Eye) or political irrelevancies (like the election of the mayor). Keep local issues for local news
Nigel Middlewick, Cullompton (Devon) UK

My husband and I both took early retirement from high stress City jobs, in 1996. He was a police officer, I was a police crisis counselor. Within a month of leaving our jobs, we had moved "home" and eventually moved to a small village in West Cornwall. The changes were dramatic, both externally and most importantly internally. Our income dropped, we no longer had a motor vehicle, but relied on public transportation and our neighbours. After three years of raising hens and running a small B & B, our souls and spirits were restored and priorities re-assessed. Because of the low Canadian dollar, we left Cornwall last year. Both of us have been irrevocably changed by our "rural" experience. Of course this "retreat" would not work for everyone and the timing and willingness to change would have to be present. But we are thankful and eagerly planning our return.
Pat van der Veer, A Brit in Nova Scotia

Planned growth is the answer in the city! I've lived in rural Oregon and am back in Los Angeles and after 3 years am ready to go back! With the internet and upcoming wireless technology a person can be anywhere and stay in touch.
Tom Vannini, USA

Yes the quality of life in the country is good in matters like food, air, public relations etc. But what about education and health care.
Sridhar, India

I also grew up at countryside. I have always wanted to get back to my roots. Silence, peace, no bureaucrats within miles. free to do things based at your own initiative and innovativeness. I envy farmers but since I never inherited a piece of farm or never became rich enough, by city working, to be able to return to countryside, it has remained a dream. It is good that at least farmers can live another man's dream.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland

I've lived in a mining town, a sea-side town (where I was born), downtown in a city and in the country side. All are different and all have offered me different views on life. Given the choice, I'd live in the country or the sea-side town (out of season of course, after all the tourists have left!) I do enjoy the theatre, movies, museums and all the other things a city can offer, but when I look out my back window and see the rolling fields, an hour's trip to the city doesn't seem so bad. I do not like, though, to have town people coming to the country (this is a dairy area) and complaining about the smell, the tractors holding up traffic, the dust from ploughing, muck spreading and other assorted aspects of country life. Please, if that's not for you, don't come here, and certainly don't build on land and complain it's not Constable painting imagined.
Mark Jones, USA

Why do we have to choose between a way of life?Surely it is a matter of what is right for each of us. Yes schools are probably better in urbanised areas, but what good is a Cambridge degree to a farmer? Likewise, hands on experience in cattle management is probably not going to stand you in good stead on the trading floor of the futures market (one would hope)! Personally I try to enjoy both lifestyles having a job in the City whilst spending my weekends in the country. The balance is perfect and I get the best of both worlds, so who cares which one is better in Tony Blair's opinion???
Steve Hart, UK

I have lived most of my life in the country. Three years ago I moved to the city of Salford. In rural areas those without transport are severely disadvantaged. You need a car to get anywhere and face a 10-20 mile journey to shop etc. This is both good and bad. However in the city the public transport is much better but no-one uses it. There is more easily obtainable entertainment in the cities, which probably means they are better for our teenagers, but they are more exposed to crime. In all, it is a case of personal preference, and as they say "the grass is always greener on the other side". I prefer the country but that is probably a reflection on the enjoyable times I had growing up as opposed to any logical evaluation
Philip Bunn, UK

I've just moved to the deep country after living in Dublin. It's very quiet, peaceful and beautiful here and I can see cows from the window of my home office. Life is better here than in the city but the major downside for me is lack of conversation about the issues I'm really interested in - there's fewer opportunities here to meet up with people with common interests. However there's always the internet and BBC Online ... and my phone bills have gone up accordingly.
Susan O'Donnell, Ireland

Has it dawned on you that in our lives sometimes we are called to serve in unpleasant and difficult places, and other times scenically beautiful areas where we are tested for spiritual growth in different ways. The country is not a soft option, just a different one

I would like to know which countryside the PM has visited. Certainly, not my village. If I were to become unemployed I could not travel to a job starting before - no buses. If my wife wanted to buy some sugar she would have to walk 4 miles and pay over the odds, if she wanted to go to town shopping she would have to pay a 4.50 return arrive in town at 10.15 and leave again at 3.30. Our nearest doctor is 10 miles. Police station - which may be closing - 10 miles, a village pub, which was saved only by a very brave businessman but is being crippled by rates. Rising crime, the village recently suffering it's first ever burglaries. The farmers dropping like nine pins. Come on Tony, get in to the real world and stop playing with figures. Start doing the right thing, I wonder just how many millions you will spend on the election and how many, nurses, police and teachers. Not only rural but urban, as my son will soon have to travel over 15 miles to school
Kelvin Marsh, Northumberland, England

Surely you need both? I miss the glorious English countryside, what's left of it. We need desperately to fight to preserve what's left, in what is one of the most crowded countries in Europe and the world. I am a frequent visitor to the south west when back in Britain. But as a young single person, I want to work and live in (existing) great cities. The worst of both worlds, it seems to me, is monstrous Stalinist ideas like "Millennium City", tearing up Kent and slapping down awful, identical and unecessary housing. Let's rejuvenate the cities and pay whatever we have to to keep England's idyllic countrside free from further development. If this means subsidising its effective guardians, the farmers, so be it.
Ben Broadbent , (English in) US

It comes to the question of trade-offs. Does a person want the calm of the country or the benefits that are available in the city. I.e. mass transit, shops, and a better selection of services. It depends on the situation. If you can drive and don't need the benefits of mass transit, then I would select the country anytime. Does England use septic systems out in the country, and do country dwellers depend on well water? This needs to be considered also.
Vickie Reeves, USA

As I see it, to question this would be self-abnegation. England is an emerald isle, steeped in her rich traditions of pastoral bliss. That much was brow-beaten into me, and thankfully, with a little bit of clear-eyed judgement, I find that to be true.
Yeap Teng Chin, Malaysia

I would dearly love to live in the country. But when your winter commute is in -20 - -40 deg celsius, with blowing snow, it is too much hassle. There are very few jobs out in the country here, unless you work in lumber, construction or other resource based industries. I grew up in a Scottish family, with stories of the countryside in "the old country". It seemed idyllic and I would love to live the villiage life I heard about. More humane and fulfilling than the impersonal big city life in Calgary.
Collin, Canada

I grew up in a small town close to countryside, and found it very oppressive and close, with practically everyone knowing my business at all times. A car was also an absolute necessity as public transport was poor. Last year I moved to London, and have never looked back. In spite of its faults, I know where I would rather live.
Robert Li, UK

I think it depends on the individual. Personally, I don't think I could cope for long living in the country. I come from Leeds, which I'm sure you'll agree is a fairly large city, and I love the fact that whatever I'm into (be it music, museums, art, film, restaurants), I have an amazing variety to choose from. I like the fact that in cities you tend to get more of a mix of cultures, and can meet people from all over the world, and from all walks of life. I can see the attraction of country life for some people, with the peace and tranquillity, but I must say that really isn't for me.... oh, and I don't drive (yet), which could pose a problem!!!
Tristan O'Dwyer, England

Let's see ... cleaner air, pleasant people, clear skies at night, roads on which you can move at more than 5mph, being able to keep a pet in decent conditions, birdsong in the morning, decent pubs, getting away from the Americanisation of England - I guess that answers the question (although it begs another - why do I live in Croydon ?!) Do I agree with Tony Blair ? Very rarely !
Alex Stovold, England

It isn't much fun living in the deepest countryside of northern Scotland if you have to travel 25 miles to fill your petrol tank. And when you do it costs you £7.50 per tankful more than a town dweller. But - just look at the scenery!!!
Alasdair Cameron, Scotland

It's a bit of a strange question really. Comparing life in London to life in the depths of the country is rather like comparing Mars and Pluto. Neither are 'best', they're just completely different. The same seems to apply to the inhabitants of these two planets...
Alex Parker, UK

The CLA represents 50,000 rural businesses in England and Wales. Sixty per cent of our members own less than 100 acres and many are struggling farmers. The CLA website discusses all aspects of the rural economy and we would very much appreciate your adding our internet address as a link to this page:
Country Landowners Association, England

I've lived in rural Suffolk all my life and I can never turn my back on it to live in the town or city. People in the city are always concerned about themselves within a hurried atmosphere. In the urban world, you are a person. In the country, you are a human being with feelings.
Ben Archer, UK

Country/city; each has its pros and cons. "Just give me land, lots of land, under starry skies above,....don't fence me in"! I live where there's more open land than houses because I've lived in Miami, Orlando, Boston, escaped Seattle and shudder at which is uptown or downtown - Manhatten or the Bronx. When I leave my house the doors aren't locked and the keys are left in the ignition. You tell me what's better... seven locks on your door or no lock at all. I'll take country any day!
Melanie, USA

The problem in the UK is that many people have a misguided impression of what exactly country life is. There is still this "Darling Buds of May" type of country idyll, with perpetual summer and nothing else to do except lounge around drinking cider and eating home-made goodies. Having grown up on a farm in Scotland I know that the reality is somewhat different. Getting up at 6am to work outside come rain, hail and snow (this is Britain remember), being woken up at 2 in the morning to assist a cow to calf and not having holidays as something always needs caring for - regardless of public holidays - is not the countryside of fantasy. The other misconception is that farmers are very well off. However, I would guess that there are few captains of industry who would be willing to go into a business where, it takes a year to produce a product who's value is then determined by the market and not themselves. Life better in the country - dream on Tony ....
Douglas Herron, England

Gosh! What I'd give to be in either the country or the city anywhere in the UK. At least you can travel from the city to the country and vice versa around London within a couple of hours. I've lived in America all my life in both the city and the country here. When you live in a truly rural area (not ghastly American suburbia), you are, more than likely, several hours away from any decent urban area.. A great many American's easily spend up to 3 or 4 hours a day in round trip commuting. As for me I only spend two and a half hours in mine.
Jonathan, An American son of a Brit, USA

I think you need both. Sometimes you feel want to go someplace special and sometimes you want to get away from the rat race. The country, especially with little towns, really make England. London is a horrible place for beauty, people are indifferent and it is dirty. In little villages, people are friendly and less judgemental as to what you have or drive.
Neil Goodson, U.S.A.

I lived in Kent for a year while commuting to London each day to work. What I remember most is getting off the train each night at my rural station and smelling the fresh air. It really does exist in the countryside and you have to visit London to appreciate it. There is no place in the world like the English countryside.
Julie Marriott, Australia

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02 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Blair to woo rural voters

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