I can trace much of it to going to college in Bathurst, a country town about three hours drive west of Sydney. Most students rented old Federation houses that are probably worth a fortune now. We spent weekends playing pool at the Perthville pub. Oh and in the library of course! I loved the space and the relaxed pace and the friendly, interesting people I met. The whole experience as a student in a country town was brilliant and I'd recommend it to anyone.
Before going to uni I also lived in a country town of around 5,000 people in Germany for just over a year, but I don't think that was the source of it. Back then I was still a dressed-in-black city chick through and through. I liked seeing bands and drinking beer in dingy pubs. Going out dancing. Cafes. Just walking along city pavements and window shopping. I still like all those things. But if it means crowds, queues and traffic I'm not keen on doing them often. Once or twice a year will do. By my early thirties I was a tragic Country Style magazine subscriber and David and I went on many driving holidays in country NSW and Victoria with one eye on potential new places to live.
Enid Blyton. I loved many of her books as a child but The Children of Cherry Tree Farm series and Shadow the Sheepdog were among my favourites. Possibly just beaten by the Faraway Tree books, but well ahead of the Famous Five and Malory Towers. Recently my mum confessed that she read Shadow the Sheepdog before giving it to me for Christmas and shed a tear or two, and I don't blame her at all, on both fronts. It's a lovely book. Johnny and his pup adore each other and have all sorts of adventures and misadventures.