It’s been a while since I felt the need / have had the time to write. Life has been a whirlwind, my little people aren’t as little, there’s been a global pandemic, we’ve moved house, Russia is being Russia and I’ve signed up to run the London Marathon. Madness.
I’ve chosen to write a little about what’s going on to provide myself with reflection. I’ll jump around a lot, bear with me, it may provide context at some point.
Firstly, the small ones are growing up. My eldest, William is 6 and youngest, Florence will be 5 on Sunday. While I loved the squidgy babies (and knowledge they’d be where you’d put them down two minutes ago), I don’t miss the sleepless nights. William didn’t consistently sleep through the night until he started school, Florence was 3. Sleep deprivation is absolutely a form of torture and, if you look around you, you can see other parents sharing the same troubles. As they grow up, life doesn’t get easier as some people suggest, it just gets different. There are different obstacles to overcome and different scenarios and activities to share, fun and love. Tears, tantrums and bickering too. So much bickering.
The pandemic saw us all sharing more time together, schools and nurseries were closed, I worked from home and, during the first lockdown, George had a few weeks off while working out how to best run the business, alongside heading out as an on call firefighter from time to time. We’re so lucky to live in a semi-rural town with access to a garden and outdoor spaces. Like so many other families, we decided our living space didn’t really work for us and found a beautiful house in the same town which needed some love. We made the move on 2nd December 2020.
The new house was in fact a very old house, built in circa 1836 and made of cob (I spent many nights laying awake thinking it’d crumble to the ground as the rain pelted down). The previous owners had lived here for 30 years, made many happy memories but decided it was too much to manage and didn’t appreciate the new builds that now spoilt their once picturesque views, with more planned to surround the house – building works to start next month.
The new builds don’t bother me at all, they’ve provided us with pavements and safe access to walk the children to school which wouldn’t have otherwise been possible and will soon provide lots of digger action to keep William entertained. We’re lucky to have a beautifully established garden with many trees, shrubs and flowers. The previous owners, to the excitement of the children, also left a chicken coop with two hens, only one made it to our moving date, the biggest black hen which William decided to call “Buck-Buck” due to the shriek she made. Over the next few months, we added four more – Blackcurrant, Snowy, Floppy and Dipper. As their first ‘pets’, the children loved spending time with them, feeding them and even helping me clean them out (although their desire to assist with that chose has faded). They especially enjoy collecting eggs and selling them (for £1 a box, mainly to granny and nanny), saving the money to buy a toy they both agreed on (not always an easy task).
I’ve made countless lists, deciding what should be tackled first – the leaking, falling down conservatory, the cracked render on the exposed west facing wall, the retaining wall that’s falling into the road, the garden which would probably become unmanageable within a few months, internal decoration, the roof, is it sound? During my research, it soon became very clear that old houses should not be treated in the same way as new houses. They’re built with traditional materials, lime, earth. I soon found myself in the depths of old house repair books and online forums, learning about the importance of old houses needing to breathe. Anxiety levels grew as I looked around at modern gypsum plaster, concrete render and non-breathable paint/wallpaper.
Lover of a list, I prioritised according to what was required to make the house sound – roof and render. Finding builders that understood the importance of using traditional methods and having availability over the next two years was near impossible so I’m tackling little things as and when I can. Slow progress is still progress, right?