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This time last year I was a big London complainer. My partner and I were both hamster-wheeling our own businesses, staring at computer screens for 12 hour days, six days a week, holidays were a relic of some dim and distant past.

Our brief windows of relaxation involved grabbing a Starbucks and popping over to a heavily-landscaped common to lie on the yellowing grass along with 1000 other refugees of the city-machine, none of whom I ever remember exchanging more than a few words with. Alternatively, we’d indulge in one of the countless material treats London has dreamt up for the temporary relief of emptiness.

Modern life is rubbish, we’d bewail, but would still derive cold comfort from reminding ourselves it could always be worse. Imagine eking a living out on a dump in Dhaka? Or slaving down a Congan Coltan mine? Or being a free-thinking woman under the Taliban?

Then 6 months ago we escaped to a cottage in Doune (well Buchany, technically). Lamentably, we still seem to work most hours God sends, but our transitory respites do now permit access to a myriad of non-material pleasures: a rich and beautiful natural environment, fresh air, a stronger sense-of-community and some welcoming, trusting company.

Perhaps I’m getting old, but surely these are the foundations of a stable happiness, not cash, status, stuff, media and relentless technological novelty? I hope one day soon The World, as I, wakes up to such truths and finds us a little more time to enjoy them.

For example, take the breather my partner and I snatched yesterday: a short walk through a serene, sun-dappled wood down to the old Kilmadock cemetery, and a refreshing dip in the Teith with a pair of Red Kites soaring overhead. In a subtle but vital way this was more satisfying and restorative than any dinner at The Ivy, 3D Imax experience, underground Soho club, or Covent Garden clothes shop could ever be.

So now, at least, when we collapse on the sofa after a particularly gruelling work marathon, we say, yes, but it could always be worse: imagine living in London!

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