Today I’m grateful for home!
This evening we’re staying at my parents’ house – the home I grew up in and lived in from birth to the age of 21. It’s a 15 minute drive from where my partner and I live, so it’s not far by any stretch of the imagination! I have always adored my home. I was never one of those children who couldn’t wait to leave, to move out of the country and into the bustle of a town or city. I don’t feel at home unless I can see fields and moving to a town, albeit a relatively small rural one, has been quite a change. Fortunately we have a nice outlook onto an old canal and a field – hurrah!
My family home is 5 miles from the nearest large village – there’s no corner shop you can nip to to buy your milk, no streetlights, no train station, just a lousy bus service. From above it kind of looks like an island, horseshoed on 3 sides by a field that we used to walk our dog in. There’s a lane in front of it, and a field the other side of that, so in a word, it’s green. There’s a fairly substantial garden, something I took for granted – I never understood when friends came to visit and said our house/garden was massive. Having looked at properties as an adult I can totally see where they were coming from. (This also probably tells you that I was quite antisocial and enjoyed my own company a lot! I was always the child chatting to the adults at parties rather than playing with my peers.) At the top of the garden there’s a shed and a run for my parents’ quirky Silkie chickens. The slabs are still down where my wendy-house used to stand, and over a box hedge that used to run maze-like over the garden before I was born is a small allotment. My mum habitually tries to cultivate it and has a yearly war against the chickens and local rabbit population to try and prevent them from eating her produce. The green house is small and a little worse for wear having benefitted from too many footballs through the glass (courtesy of my brother) and repairs from my dad.
Over the years, the house and garden has changed. The derelict sandstone section of the house was pulled down and replaced. A pergola and patio was established for relaxing in the good ol’ English summer! The old evergreen bush that our dog used to take mud-baths beneath when she got hot is long gone. An old outbuilding with no foundation got switched for a garage and the functional utility and downstairs bathroom my mum always wanted. I can still recall the old ‘lean-to’ as we referred to it, dusty bikes hung on a bracket on the wall, the hose from the dryer flung out of the small cobwebby window, the snail trails that covered the walls. They used to come in under the large gap under the door. I can still recall the exact hunter-green of that door, the coldness of the wrought iron letter box, the sound it made when I slammed it as I ran for the school bus. Our dog used to shove her nose through the gap at the bottom and sniff and whine in greeting upon our return.
Each time I go back, I expect something to be different. Whenever I am away from ‘home’ – whether that’s my family home or the one I live in 15 minutes down the road – I always return with a sense of expectation. I pass from room to room subconsciously holding my mental breath, eyeing the placement of the furniture and looking around with curiosity. It’s not a question of ‘have we been broken in to?’, but the same kind of thought process I used to have when I wondered whether my toys came alive at night… Everything is always as I left it, which is nice. Sometimes my mum has changed the duvet cover on my bed at home #1, done a little dusting, moved something in that was cluttering up another part of the house. Occasionally one of the carefully arranged postcards has dropped from the wall and I stick it back up, taking a moment to read the back and reflect.
I know that one day, the house will become too big for my parents. My brother will move out and, ultimately, it will get sold. Another family will move in, maybe their children will climb the lilac tree and bring its blooms inside in May. But they won’t know it as I know it, won’t know the now half-dismantled pigsty that we made our den behind, the treasure we buried, the section of hedge where one of our ducks decided she’d make a nest. It will always be my home and will always house my heart.
(Crumble for pudding – Mum is the best cook ever. <3)