WHY CHOOSE TO LIVE IN ESSEX AND SOUTH SUFFOLK
Essex and South Suffolk are unique having beautiful countryside, a long and interesting coastline and excellent access to London, the motorway network and Stansted airport.
The landscape comprises rolling wheat fields, historic woodland, tiny hamlets, traditional villages and small market towns. The climate is one of the driest in the UK.
There are excellent state and public schools that feature regularly in the top of the education league tables.
Living in the countryside
Moving to live in the countryside for the first time can be a big change. Gone is the traffic noise and 24 hour-a day hubbub of modern life. Instead there's space to enjoy life, tranquillity and far more of a real community spirit. Whether you choose to walk or ride on the quiet lanes and bridleways, the countryside starts at your door.
There are local events, shows and festivals to enjoy and new friends to make who share the same interests and values.
Whether it's a home with land or a country cottage nestling in a beautiful village, you will feel a part of a rural life that retains the tranquillity of a bygone age with the benefits of modern living. Many people who move to Essex or South Suffolk commute into towns or cities to work or run a business from their home.
Looking after land
If you buy a property with land, you have the opportunity to use it to develop your interests or to change the way you live your life. There will be hard work to do – whether it's mowing the grass, maintaining fences and hedges or working the land and being responsible for animals.
Food from the garden
Nothing tastes as good as fruit and vegetables straight from the garden. Whether it's a few lettuces and strawberries or year-round self sufficiency in fruit and vegetables largely depends on the size of the plot available and your time.
Vegetables will need to be 'rotated' every year so that pests and diseases don't build up and the soil will need to be fed with animal manure or compost and limed occasionally.
Living in the country gives the space to keep animals, whether it's household pets such as cats and dogs; horses to ride or show; and even stock to produce food that can be eaten fresh, stored or sold.
Moving to the countryside gives the opportunity to have that dog or pony that you or your family have always wanted, to keep chickens in a free range environment to provide your eggs and bees for your honey. Depending on the land and time you have available, you can also consider keeping sheep, pigs, goats and even cattle.
There is plenty of advice available on creating the right environment for healthy and productive stock keeping.
Horses and ponies
Whether it's a pony for the children, horses to ride, show or for carriage driving, there's nothing quite like having horses at home. With a small paddock and mobile field shelter you can keep a pony at home.
If space permits, put in a manege and exercise your horse year-round whatever the ground conditions. And Essex and South Suffolk are ideal for hacking out – quiet small lanes and bridleways criss-cross the traditional countryside.
Many people want to be self sufficient to save money and eat fresh wholesome food, using their land and the surrounding hedgerows to provide it with the opportunity to sell their surplus. This can vary from producing food from the garden and the wild countryside through to learning the crafts and skills to become truly self sufficient.
John Seymour's famous book 'The New Complete Guide to Self Sufficiency' is the classic guide for realists and dreamers, full of practical advice.
Here are three ideas to get you started:
Sloe Gin Sloe Gin is the perfect warming drink for a cold day in the countryside. In one North Essex village there is a competition each year for the best Sloe Gin and a cup is presented to the winner. The Akers family have won the cup several times – here's their winning recipe:
To make three bottles you will need 2kg of sloes; 1kg of sugar and three bottles of cheap gin.
Pick the Sloes (which grow in hedgerows on Blackthorn bushes) after the first frost or pop them in the freezer overnight and then defrost to soften them.
Put them in a glass container with a stopper – a large Kilner jar or demijohn is ideal. Add the sugar and gin. Seal and leave in a cool place away from sunlight, stirring every week or two.
After three months strain the liquid through several layers of clean cloth and bottle it - keep the gin bottles for this.
Try to resist drinking until the next winter – it will become even mellower if left a further year.
Vera Loudon's Green Bean Chutney
Vegetable gardeners often have a surplus of runner beans during the late summer – here is a wonderful recipe to convert them into delicious chutney which is perfect with cheese and cold meats.
You'll need: 1kg of runner beans; 750g of onions; 1½ heaped teaspoons of cornflower; 1 tablespoon of turmeric; 1 heaped tablespoon of dry mustard powder; 500g of Demerara sugar; 500g of muscavado sugar; 800ml of vinegar.
Cook the beans in salty water, chop the onions and cook in 200ml of the vinegar. Mix the turmeric, cornflower and mustard into a smooth paste with the remaining vinegar and cook for 10 minutes. Add the sugar, beans and onions and simmer for a further 15 minutes. Bottle and cover.
To make fruit jam: clean and sort the fruit, weigh it and cook it with sufficient water to make it tender. Then put in a large pan and bring to the boil, adding the amount of sugar specified in the recipe. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved and test for setting by putting a little of the jam on a cool plate. When the jam has cooled touch it with your finger – if the surface wrinkles it's done, if not boil for a little longer. Allow the jam to cool a little and pour into hot clean jars, cover and seal.
Quantities: Raspberry jam – 1.8 kg raspberries, 2.5 kg sugar Plum jam – 2.7kg plums, 3kg sugar, 300ml water