Imagine a landscape of green rolling hills dotted with cows, sheep and horses. Picture pebble beaches, moorland and slow creeks. Imagine a picturesque country village, where you might spot a little secluded cottage or a restored barn. This is the place Babette, Marie and Giles call home.
Mum of two, passionate project manager, Babette Grobler moved to the heart of Devon 13 years ago, after building a successful career in London. "I have always wanted to live here," she recalls. "I used to escape down to the country during the weekends. After giving birth to my first son I decided this was the kind of life I wanted for my family and for myself."
Now she lives near the village of Harbertonford with her two sons, Frankie and Toby, three cats and a mischievous Border Collie, Hero. "I wake up in the morning to the sounds of blackbirds, wrens and robins singing; it really is the most peaceful way to start the day," she reflects. "At night, as I go to sleep, I hear the owls calling to each other."
Country life admittedly brings a few downsides, too. "The rural lifestyle is great, but I am far from shops, restaurants and cafes. I usually go to Totnes to buy my groceries and to Exeter when I need more variety. I like the shops, but my sons dread the long drive there," she explains. "Trying to run a house in the countryside whilst working all day, fitting in school runs, clubs and cooking is far from simple." A challenge that Babette delightfully found was made easier through shopping online.
Associating the idea of e-commerce with the image of a city bustling with activity and technology comes naturally, but in rural locations online services can really make a difference. "I have been an Amazon customer for 15 years, and I am now an Amazon Prime customer," Babette recalls.
"At the beginning I started buying books to satisfy my ferocious reading habits, but I soon realised I could buy online all the things I couldn't get locally. If at night I suddenly remember I'm running low on cat food, all I need to do is click and it's on route."
"Customer reviews help me make informed choices without having to leave my house. E-commerce has totally transformed my shopping habits and made my life as a working parent so much more manageable."
Babette's neighbour, Marie, is also an eager online shopper. A grandmother of seven children, she has moved to Harbertonford to live closer to her family. "I have always worked in entertainment and hotels, and this is a different way of life, but I am growing accustomed to it. Living close to my family is a joy. We can go surfing on the beach and have a barbecue when we come home," she says. She is also an Amazon Prime customer: "With age you become less mobile, and living in the countryside you can at times feel a little cut off. Thanks to Amazon I can always get what my grandchildren are craving and shop at my convenience."
Giles lives in a converted barn just a few minutes away from Babette and Marie. "I met Babette at the local pub five years ago, and we have been friends ever since," he recalls. "I live in a remote area, so it's rare that I would travel for miles to do my shopping. Plus, I am dreadful at keeping lists", he laughs. "With Amazon I can jump online and order what I need there and then."
Giles moved back to Devon after spending several years abroad for work. "I have restored this barn together with my brother, who also lives nearby. All my family lives around here, in the valley. It's a lifestyle I wouldn't change for anything."
Giles, Babette and Marie have discovered that a slower paced rural lifestyle can be enhanced by the comforts offered by technology. "I wanted my boys to grow up near the beaches and the beauty of Dartmoor, to fully enjoy life outdoors," Babette reflects. "I can have all that, without missing out on the exciting possibilities changing technology brings. Anything my boys need, I can get almost straight away, which gives me a sense of being connected with the outside world, even though I live in a rural location. Nothing beats that!"
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I wanted my boys to grow up near the beaches and the beauty of Dartmoor, to fully enjoy life outdoors