Farmer Andrew Meredith sitting on the back of his tractorAndrew Meredith © Richard Stanton

This will be my last monthly column. Surprisingly, it’s not because I’ve run out ideas, but because I’ve been given the opportunity to take on a full-time role with Farmers Weekly.

In a few weeks you will be likely to see my name atop articles in the arable section.

The majority of my life seems to have been a series of chapters whereby I stumble fortunately from one opportunity to the next.

I went first to university to study law. It was terrible, so I turned back to what I knew best and changed to agriculture.

After I graduated, I came home to farm. It was brilliant and I have spent five happy years here.

I first began to write for Farmers Weekly when they put out a request for someone who was going to YFC AGM for the first time to write a diary of the event.

It never once occurred to me then that this was something that would escalate into a regular, let alone a full-time, role.

I’m not telling you this to merrily toot my own trumpet. The point I want to make here is to all recent graduates of GCSEs, A-levels and university degrees.

Right now, at whatever stage you’re at, I imagine there are many of you worried that you have put yourself on a set of rails towards a job that you think you might actually not be suitable for, or not enjoy.

At some point you stop wishing your life away to the next milestone Andrew Meredith

Throughout your education, you are presented with many choices and simply have to pick one.

It is easy to feel that they are hugely momentous and you have now doomed yourself to go down this route forever or face risking embarrassment, failure, or both.

Maybe you are scared that you just don’t know what you want to do and you look enviously upon those who seem to have their future all mapped out. Well, fear not.

The older you get, the more you realise how terrifyingly unpredictable life is.

At some point you stop wishing your life away to the next milestone and are instead relieved not to know what is lying around the corner next week, month or year.

Sometimes you will be lucky enough to have opportunities handed to you on a plate. But they will always be there if you go looking for them, act interested and disregard how unlikely some scenarios may seem at the outset.

Adapting to change

It is pointless to fear change as often it is thrust upon you whether you like it or not.

Within my circle of university friends, not one has escaped adversity in one form or another in the five years since leaving, but we have each come out the other side.

Being a good adaptor to change must surely be one of the key indicators of a life well lived.

Moving to London will be a dramatic contrast for someone who has grown up in the countryside. Even my degree was completed in the almost rural surroundings of Aberystwyth.

Naturally, therefore, in the past weeks and months I have been reflecting a great deal on the merits of both town and country life.

For me, the countryside gives a feeling of glorious independence.

How lovely it is to spend all day on a tractor in the fields, listening to the radio, hearing on the news about trouble home and abroad and feeling a million miles removed from it all.

Better still when you hear the travel reports and shudderingly imagine being motionless on the M25 after a long day, only a few miles from home but as powerless to get to there as to the moon. 

However, the flipside of that independence is the isolation. How exciting it is to board the train in Birmingham New Street, rush through central England and into Euston.

Down you plunge into the underground and, as the hot blast of air propelled in front of the train hits your face, it’s impossible not to feel a buzz of excitement that you are back in the beating heart of the UK.

While visiting the excellent Shrewsbury Steam Fair recently, I acquired an elderly book with the attractive title The Untutored Townsman’s Invasion of the Country.

Urban and rural tension

Written by a certain CEM Joad, it is awful in many ways, hopelessly self-indulgent and terribly edited, but was nonetheless enjoyable due to its timeliness, as like myself the author felt he had a foot in both camps.

In spite of being published in 1945, the tension described between urban and rural dwellers could have been written recently.

Then, just as now, country dwellers were attracted to the city for the greater opportunities, and city dwellers flocked to the country in their spare time for the wide open spaces, fresh air and freedom.

The intervening 71 years has done little to improve relations among the pricklier sorts on both sides, and both remain ill-informed of the challenges faced by the other.

Only recently we have seen that simmering resentment burst into life over the case of the National Trust purchasing land in Borrowdale. 

A fresh battle of ideas is beginning for the right to shape the countryside over the next generation.

Farmers and country folk are far outnumbered by city dwellers, and a long list of priorities lies above food production for political parties of all colours. These are interesting times we live in. I can’t wait to get started.