Things you know if you grew up in rural Staffordshire

I was surrounded almost solely by cows, sheep and pensioners


If like me, you grew up in the middle of nowhere, moving to a heavily populated area with every imaginable amenity on your doorstop was a bit of a culture shock. You grew up with little available activities to entertain yourself with, and wellies were a staple of your wardrobe. You lived nearer to multiple farms than you did shopping centres, and had to rely on your personal chauffeur (your parents) to take you into civilisation of any kind.

If you were fortunate to live by a point of interest, on bank holidays swarms of tourists from more populated areas came to visit. Before meeting you, people presumed you were posh because of where you lived, and if you were lucky enough to go to the sixth form in the next town, you were forced to leave the bubble of your village and actually meet other people your own age from places besides your village. Taking this article to the first point:

You knew everyone at your school

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Mainly because you’d known each other at playgroup but more so because your class sizes were tiny, and your primary school had about 200 pupils. More to the point if you saw someone in the village around your age that you didn’t recognise, you instantly assumed they went to the private school a few miles away.

You only had one shop, and it was something rubbish like a Spar

Some people from your year at school work there, the rest of the staff have been there for as long as you can remember. They don’t stock much, but the reduced doughnuts at the end of the evening was a bonus.

Your underage drinking habits stretched out further than the park

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One of many woods parties

Why drink in a park when you have woods, fields and caves to explore? This also often resulted in mild arson offences, and wild-goose chases from the police and sometimes ending up back at the park.

You had a ‘meeting place’ (that pensioners always moaned about)

Meet me at the clock tower at 5 yeah? Someone always insisted on littering, hindering your village’s chance at the yearly “Best Kept Village” competition.

Pensioners generally moaned about every part of your existence

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More retirement properties than starter homes? Check. More over 65’s than every age below? Check. The sort of people that moaned incessantly about kids getting their first moped, and reported your house parties to the police. They’ve now moved on to your village’s Facebook group and post pictures of fly-tippers.

Going into the village with your parents and them literally stopping to speak to everyone

Whilst you stood there and rolled your eyes, your mum and Betty discussed the new roadworks and that they’d not seen each other in weeks. Usually accompanied by someone telling how much you’ve grown in the 11 years they’ve not seen you. Is this what happens when you don’t leave the village for uni?

When you left school, people either stayed firmly put or got as far away as possible

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Or you planned to get as far away as possible but realised how much train tickets were when you had to go back. People in your year that didn’t go to university most likely stayed in the village and also work there, or have now have children (and will probably have to move out of the village now because of lack of aforementioned starter homes).

Everyone knows your business, even after leaving

Maybe you became talk of the village because you ran away to elope with a French student you met on exchange?  Or are you the barer of hostility because Sharon caught you not picking up your dogs poo? Also the sort of details found on said Facebook group. You can’t go for a quiet pint without someone asking why you’ve not been in for four days.

Nights out in a proper town or city were a nightmare, because taxis cost a fortune

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You go to the club in the nearest town and know everyone there

Sometime resulting in someone taking one for the team and being designated driver, or more often an argument with the taxi driver about their inflated prices and refusal to do more than one drop off.

The public transport available was generally dire

You learnt to drive as soon as you possibly could, or are doing so now because the buses operate once an hour and stop at 6pm, they most definitely don’t run on a Sunday, and the nearest train station is at least five miles away.

You didn’t notice the smell of manure, because you were used to it

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Sports day sucked

The only time it was noticed was when they fertilised the school field every year, more than likely the middle of a really hot day.

More people from school drove tractors before they drove cars

You may not even have your driving license yet, but Sam’s been driving a tractor on his dad’s farm since 13.

Someone always had mad house parties

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Provided alcohol was always a plus

They usually lived in a massive detached house, with a massive garden. Someone still chundered down the side of their shed and ruined their walls with Sharpies though. Everyone drank neat spirits (past the drinking WKD-in-park stage by this point), and many discovered smoking.

There are known ‘dogging’ sites

Usually identifiable by condom wrappers and empty Carling cans thrown into bushes. There were horror stories of small children walking into orgies in public toilets by the nature reserve. Ew.

You fiercely disliked the secondary school in the nearest town/village

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Fraternising with the enemy in the MSN days

They were the enemy. There were often scraps during school league football matches, and we hated them all bitterly despite not really knowing any of them. God forbid if anyone started dating someone from there.

Despite everything, coming home from uni after a few months is still the best feeling. Unless you don’t have a car, and have to spend your Summer stuck in the middle of nowhere.