Scrolling through my Instagram feed a couple of days ago, I was shamefully lured in by a targeted advertisement for this charming little book. Despite protests of those who continue to fruitlessly defend their data and privacy in the information age, I’m actually not too bothered about targeted ads – I mean, they’re taking my data anyway, might as well tailor my content to suit my tastes and interests a bit more. Somehow that sneaky little algorithm must have known how melancholy I feel since moving to London, how I long for open spaces, rolling hills and fields full of crops, walks along the seaside with the sun sparkling upon the surface, and everyday cosy home comforts…
I’ve always had an unwavering appreciation for a peaceful cottage in a small, Midsomer-Murders-style village: independent pubs, inns, and little book shops; bicycles with wicker baskets; traditional church buildings or town halls; country lanes and wide expanses of land; gardens in full bloom; herbs grown on windowsills… Preferably without the ‘murder‘ aspect, of course… Just a simple life in nature, pottering around the garden planting bulbs and collecting eggs from free-range chickens, strolling through the market, knitting, crocheting, baking and gardening. Sounds like the perfect retirement plan, right? Admittedly, not necessarily the yearnings of someone at the ripe old age of 22. But that’s just me – and that’s exactly why I immediately added this book to my basket, having it delivered the very same evening thanks to the modern wonders of Amazon prime.
Moving to London onto a busy high-street has been a jarring culture-shock for me, and only now do I understand the true meaning of ‘homesick’. Sure, I ventured far from home for uni, all the way up to North Yorkshire from my corner of Kent, but it was different: York was beautiful in itself, with plenty of access to the great outdoors and quaint little villages. And – most of all – I knew I would be coming back home; it was temporary. Now I’ve flown the nest entirely, moving to be nearer my job. I wake up sometimes feeling genuinely unwell, or I’ll have whole weeks where I just cry everyday for no reason, maybe thinking about home, a flippant memory, or hopelessly dreaming of perfect life in the countryside, far away from the unrelenting horrors of external audit. Naturally, I loved this book.
Reading it through in just two days, curled up on the sofa with a cup of coffee and the blanket I crocheted one Christmas, I let myself be immersed in the romanticised lifestyle of cottage living. Unlike my normal reads, “Escape to Cottagecore” was not a fictional story, just so we’re clear. Instead, it is more of an encyclopaedia or self-help book, each chapter focusing on a different aspect of cottage life, whether that be mindfulness, homeware, fashion, or gardening. Although I got through it very quickly, it’s one of those books that I know for sure I will keep coming back to simply due to the abundance of wellness tips, gardening advice, notes on sustainable living, and recipes for food, baking, and cocktails.
Ramona Jones is an incredibly elegant writer: her meticulously detailed descriptive techniques planted each cosy image in my mind, and her vibrant passion for country-living allowed those seeds to blossom. Her heavy sense of nostalgia and appreciation for the past, along with the deep fondness for childhood memories and a simpler time, reminded me a lot of myself. Reading along, it almost felt like reminiscing with a friend, or walking along a familiar road with my Dad, telling him about the little house I’d have one day in a country village, the names of my golden retrievers, and how he’d live in the outhouse and collect the eggs for breakfast (generous, aren’t I?). In the context of a noisy street outside my window, sirens and motorcycles whizzing past, and the realm of work right there at the desk in the corner of the room, “Escape to Cottagecore” did indeed give me a much needed escape, and I’m grateful for its existence! As I said, I can see myself reading it again and again, when life gets too stressful, work gets too soul-destroying, or I miss my Dad and my lovely Kent just a little too much.
Ramona Jones emphasises that the aim is not to run away to the countryside (debatable), but to encompass aspects of the simplicity and charm of cottage-living in our everyday, appreciating nature and all things home-made and vintage… As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I still feel like quitting my job and running to the Cotswolds, dragging my Londoner boyfriend – probably kicking and screaming – behind me. Until that little fantasy can take hold though, I’m thankful for the tips and inspiration provided by this little cottage-bible to help me make the current life I lead more bearable.
I would recommend this to anyone who needs a little mental retreat to the country!
Just as a little footnote, the back of the book kindly provided the author’s instagram handle, which I have since followed (actually recognising many of her pictures from Pinterest rabbit-holes). Her feed is equally beautiful, relaxing and inspiring, so definitely worth following for delightful Cottagecore content – @monalogue