Saturday, 30 January 2016

End of an era

The upside of an 'end of an era' moment is the frisson of wondering what the next era will wheel in.

We completed the sale on our condo in Naples on 28th January so for the first time in seventeen plus years we have just the one home.  It already feels rather odd, as if I have forgotten something or lost something; not in a major way, just that niggly feeling you get in the corner of your brain which keeps saying something indefinable has slid out of reach.

The house I was quite literally born in. No UPVC porch seventy years ago!
Home for me is really where your 'birth' roots are if you are lucky to stay there long enough.  I have always felt that I am a Brummy and my heart is decidedly in the  Birmingham of my childhood.  If it (and my mom and dad and others) were all still there I would be back there in a nano-second.

My next home age 11 to 19.  Not how it looked when my mom had it; it always had a lovely front garden

I was uprooted all of about five miles when I was eleven and the next house was always my 'mom and dad's house' in my head.  Five miles might as well have been another planet as far as an eleven year old is concerned.  I suspect this began my 'gypsy' lifestyle with houses.  The roots were already damaged.

At nineteen I married and moved into a flat (no photo), still in Birmingham but again a few miles from my mom's house.  

No outside photo f the second flat.  This was our junk shop furniture we had re-covered.  Note the record player and fireplace very sixties.
A couple of years later we moved on to a better flat and, again, in another part of Birmingham.  By twenty-four my first husband and I had moved to our first house in Lakenheath in Suffolk. (no photo)  I was now truly severing all connections with any residual concept of home that I had remaining.

By the time I was thirty and had my first baby I was living in another part of the country and had fetched up in Royton (no photo) in Lancashire.  I was more and more isolated from that first ideal of home - the loss of friends you had grown up with and family all around you was now firmly established.  I am sure some people don't feel this privation and others will never settle themselves to it.  All I can say is that I reached an 'acceptance' of it before I was twelve, so every move after that seemed to matter less and less, the loss had already happened.

watching my 'next home being built

 By the time my son was nearing school age we moved again; this time to an area with a good school.  This was the only other house I spent a lot of years in and I made many, many memories of life there with my children.  It was certainly bought as the forever house and therefore the future home for us all.

Life often takes turns we don't plan on and my husband and I divorced and the children grew up and I eventually moved on to another life with Ken.  This began in his home and then we bought our first house together; and so our collection of houses began with our giving up the two we already had.

our lovely first house together

After we were married we bought a lovely house together and settled down to a normal future of work and the hope of retiring early.  Then we went on holiday!  In 1999 we did the classic thing - we went on holiday to Florida and bought a house while we were there; three bedrooms, swimming pool, the works.

Queens Park home

For a few years we worked in the UK and escaped to Naples as often as we could.  My spunky eighty-plus my mother often came with us... and all was well.  Very soon we decided we wanted more of the Florida life so we retired early and downsized our UK home.  Indeed the sale of our big house and the purchase of the tiny bungalow all happened courtesy of the internet - leaving us actually without a home in the UK for a couple of months while we soaked up the Florida sunshine.

our tiny but perfectly formed bungalow
Eventually the upkeep of a single family home in Naples all year became a chore so we sold it and bought a 'lock and leave' sort of house.

The Shores

By now my mother had stopped coming to Naples with us so we decided to sell up yet again.  We thought we would find a slightly larger home in the UK as we would be spending more time there and also buy somewhere in Europe.  this would be an easier commute for us all.

In the UK we bought a wreck of a house a few doors from our bungalow which we then completely refurbished.  Never let me get started on that story unless you have a few hours of you life to donate.  Never again!  The sales picture here is from further down the line when we sold it on

for sale

After a protracted search in Spain we ended up buying a lovely farmhouse and nine acres in France!  Most people's dream home.

leaving Les Roches
I never 'settled' there.  I loved the house and land and trees(!) to smithereens but I hated being so alien.  My French is very, very basic and though I am used to be isolated it felt intensified when I was surrounded by a world I couldn't even understand aurally. 

In the UK we had also found a better-fit house - we realised how much we both needed to return to a detached home - our own fiefdom - and with enough room to cover our needs without too much compromise.  So we bought our current home.

 In Naples, around the same time, we found the condo we have just sold

These addresses have been the story of our lives now for more than ten years. Roughly six months of the year spent in each of them.

By now I have enough sense to know 'you can never go home'.  It no longer exists.

Ken and I have been together for almost twenty-three years and have run through eleven homes together here, America and France.  I think it is time to try and make a proper home for us both here in Bury.  

So the new era begins.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

What is this white stuff?

Sunday 17 January:  
Bit of a visual shock to the system this morning when we got up:

poor old birds in this weather

We have a ton of bird feeders around our garden for the two blackbirds and the occasional robin!  We live on a relatively new estate (ten years plus?) so there are no mature trees, hence very few birds visit us, but I keep trying.  The eight assorted cats that do visit the garden (aka litter tray) may also be off-putting.  As someone who has had a plethora of cats as pets in my time consider my hands held up.  What goes around, comes around.

from my chair

This is my view from my work chair in the Hive.  The jasmine looked really pretty all fluffed up.

Yes, I am sort of excited as it is our first experience of snow (excluding a ski holiday) that we have had in many years.  Not having to schlep out in it to go to and from work makes it even more attractive.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Happy 2016

I know it is banal to say it but ..... where do the years go?  Can not believe we are in the twenties never mind sixteen.  There are already whole rafts of people who never 'lived' in the 1900s and somethings......scary stuff.

Whatever the number I hope you and all you care about have a wonderful year ahead.  Health and happiness being the only two things you need, I wish you those in bucketfuls.

I left you in November so there is the whole of December to go at and it was a heck of a busy month.

Just before that though, on 29 November, we signed a contract on the sale of our condo in Naples.  The exchange will take place 29th January.  So, after fifteen years of a split life between here and the sunshine (six months here and six months there) we will stop our gypsy life and settle down in the UK again.  I am doing cartwheels of happiness at the prospect of living here full-time.  Ken is dragging his feet a little but agrees it is the time to do it.

not quite the same view from our bury sitting room window

Co-incidentally and, hopefully, not an omen, also on the 29th two of our fence panels blew down.  This was the second time we had lost some fencing and we have known for a while the posts were pretty rotten at ground level so we had to bite the bullet and arrange to get it all replaced.  It is odd how vulnerable you feel when a chunk of a fence disappears.

By the time we were into the first week of December we were in the throes of having a complete seventeen panel fence replaced, two wardrobes in our main bedroom fitted (plus three chests of drawers made), a greenhouse removed followed by a workroom built in its place and then the now vacated workroom turned back to a guest room (including buying a new bed) before the 25th.

As you can imagine there were a few hiccups along the way but by now it is pretty much sorted - still some tweaking here and there.

Throw in a couple of doctor visits, lunches with chums, decorating rooms for Christmas including buying a seven foot tree and a day with workmen littered hither and yon and a power outage of a few hours and it was not quite a stress-free month!   Oooooh I almost forgot eight trips to Ikea for this and that as we went along - I sooooo love Ikea things and sooooooo hate Ikea.  We have discovered a slight improvement on doing it (so we don't stay home and stick pins in our eyes instead) we now go in the evening after about six and get the place pretty much to ourselves.

We had a really terrific all round traditional Christmas with my daughter and her husband staying with us for a few days - lots of eating and flopping around.  Their first baby is due in May so it was an extra special Christmas for us all.

We declined 'a bit of a do' for New Year's Eve (we are both the epitome of party poopers) and welcomed in the New Year with each other and thoughts of friends and family around the world.

I'll share some photos of the month as we bowled along to give you a flavour of how we said goodbye to 2015.

tree is up and decorations going in

starters are ready

The Hive is framed

my commute to work

a room full of sunshine