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Why Sarah Beeny is loving the Simple Life in Somerset

Sarah Beeny Photo Nicky Johnston
Sarah Beeny Photo Nicky Johnston

Since moving to our county Sarah Beeny has embraced Somerset life and in addition to her TV work she’s found time to write a new book. Sarah tells us her views on our local people and places and what 18 she loves about her ‘Simple Life’ in the countryside.

‘Hang on a moment, I’m just hopping in a cab!’ It’s certainly all go when you’re a property guru, TV presenter, full time Mum and published author. Sarah Beeny is currently working the media circuit to promote her latest book, The Simple Life, and having just recorded interviews on Women’s Hour and Radio Five this morning, she’s now en route to a book signing so is kindly dedicating her hour-long taxi ride to chatting all things Somerset.

After making the move to our county 5 years ago, Sarah is very pro-Somerset and as such is keen to share her enthusiasm for all things West Country. ‘Somerset is just so forward thinking; I really notice the positive attitudes in everyone I meet here. I truly believe that if someone said, ‘I want to be an artist, a restauranteur or a carpenter’, they would be supported in their notion. Most people here in Somerset would say, ‘that sounds fun!’ and give that person their full support. There’s a lot of life in Somerset and subsequently expansive career opportunities in the West Country, so it’s really great.’

Great British Life: The field in Somerset before the foundations were dug for Sarah's new home Credit Sarah BeenyThe field in Somerset before the foundations were dug for Sarah's new home Credit Sarah Beeny Great British Life: Double rainbow over the family home in Somerset Photo Sarah BeenyDouble rainbow over the family home in Somerset Photo Sarah Beeny

Along with her husband Graham and their four sons, Sarah made the huge move from their former stately home, Rise Hall in Yorkshire to the Bruton area at a stage of her life which she refers to as their ‘decluttering phase’. With work commitments in London and the boys growing up with their own lives to lead, the family realised they were spending a lot of time on the road, so a move to Somerset to create a ‘simpler life’ was the aim. ‘Everyone we have met here is utterly lovely and we’re so thankful to be able to call the neighbours our really good friends, I think they’re all magic! It feels like home here and we’ve been really lucky with all the different types of people we meet. Likewise, a lot of our friends from London will call in for a cup of tea or walk their dogs when they’re on their way to Cornwall, and I just love that too.’

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Sarah Beeny's move to Somerset

The move to Somerset was initially driven by Graham who had always had a dream of moving to a farm. After many ‘jollies’ where Sarah and Graham looked at several possible properties, a former farmhouse on the eastern side of the county would be the chosen one. With all the usual planning regulations to work around, and design requests from each member of the family to factor in, Graham would then spend hours drafting; and redrafting plans to create what would later become their brand-new dream home. But of course, as owners of 220 acres of farmland too, the blank canvas of tree-devoid fields also needed to be addressed, and the couple set to planting over 25,000 mixed British woodland trees and several miles of hedgerows within months of moving in. Sarah says, ‘We don’t hard cut the hedgerows that we have, and we let Mother Nature take control of the edges of our fields. It’s just a start but even in these very early days we already have a better balance with nature, and the wildlife and plant life has really started to flourish. When we first moved here it was so utterly silent, I almost expected to see tumbleweed whistling across the gargantuan fields.’ But now, with the introduction of a biodiverse woodland and the digging of two very large ponds, the Beeny family are surrounded by Nature’s soundtrack, ‘Now the sound of birds and insects is a joy to hear.’

Great British Life: Sarah's book tour brought her to Old Manor Farm near Langport Photo. Faydit PhotographySarah's book tour brought her to Old Manor Farm near Langport Photo. Faydit Photography

In addition to writing her new book, Sarah has also been filming her show, ‘Sarah Beeny’s New Country Lives’ which has taken her across the West Country following city folk as they take on the challenge of setting up rural businesses or tackling property developments. ‘Somerset is such a special place; it has bigger cities and small villages all of which have a slightly different culture. Whether you go to Yeovil, Wincanton, Wells or Frome they are all slightly different, and magical! In fact, the places are all like little people, all interesting in their own right, all with individual characters and personalities and that is what is really amazing and really diverse.’

Great British Life: Sarah as a child with her brother Diccon in the arms of their mother Ann Credit Sarah BeenySarah as a child with her brother Diccon in the arms of their mother Ann Credit Sarah Beeny

As well as giving top property buying tips (never view a house on a sunny day), Sarah’s autobiography dips into various stages of her life; from the time she bought her first property at the age of 19, to the many nights spent sleeping in the back of a van. There are also chapters dedicated to stories from her childhood which cover the tragic loss of her Mum to cancer when she herself was just 10 years old.

Sarah has also written a chapter about her recent cancer diagnosis, but she does state how she would have ‘loved to have perforations in this book so it could be torn out, which is actually a metaphor for how I would like to treat this part of my life.’ Initially thinking that she would keep her breast cancer treatment to herself, Sarah then reconsidered knowing that if she could just encourage one other person to go and get a lump checked then it would be worth the sharing of her story, ‘Plus it’s really important to remember that when someone in the family gets diagnosed with cancer, it doesn’t just happen to that person, it happens to the whole family. It’s an unspoken thing and it should be recognised that everyone close to you goes through it with you; so more people should talk about that too.’

READ MORE: Sarah Beeny receives all-clear following breast cancer treatment

Sarah tells me how she had all of her treatment in Yeovil District Hospital and couldn’t fault her care there, ‘The hospital is amazing, there were no waiting times, the treatment is advanced, and the people are top people, it’s absolutely exceptional and I feel incredibly privileged to live so close to Yeovil.’

As we look forwards Sarah tells her readers there have been many bonuses to moving to Somerset including the fact that she now feels ‘grounded’. Watching the seasons change has allowed her to slow down a touch, and she is even trying to adopt a new practice of ‘pottering’. This may include the planting of flower seeds, doing a crossword or spending time to read a book. ‘It also includes having cups of ‘tea in random bits of Somerset’ with my brilliant friend Pip, we could be sitting at the top of Glastonbury Tor one day or at the end of the garden the next, either way I can see how good it is for my mental health.’ As Sarah’s taxi approaches her destination, I have time to ask her if there is anything else she would like to say about Somerset. ‘Yes’, she replies, ‘don’t tell everyone how great Somerset is or they’ll all want to move here!’ Oops, too late.

Sarah’s book is available to buy from all good local bookstores or via sarahbeeny.com. You can also follow Sarah on Instagram @ sarah.beeny .

Great British Life: The Simple Life by Sarah Beeny Photo Orion BooksThe Simple Life by Sarah Beeny Photo Orion Books



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