We’ve been in our new home in the Peak District for 2 weeks now. Up until our exchange, the day before we moved, I was so paranoid about fraud or jinxing the sale, plus the twists and turns of our sale and purchase were so excruciating that I decided not to share here, or on my social media. I spent a lot of time googling other people’s experiences of moving to the country though, often at 3am, so I promised, when the time came I would start to write it all up.
Today is about the day we first clapped eyes on this house, as that seems a very good place to start.
As we drew up to our forever home I instantly said no, loudly and clearly. I reached out to touch the dashboard from the passenger seat, like a driving instructor trying to command an emergency stop. It was a subconscious gesture, as if I could place a hand and turn the car around like a superhero playing with toy cars. But I do not have superhuman powers, and it was too late; we were in the middle of the road indicating.
I had driven past this house so many times on the way from Nottingham to my Dad’s house. In the snow and fog, it is a landmark, up on the top of a remote hill. It was curious, the B&B sign hanging out onto this road in the middle of nowhere. For so many reasons I completely baulked at the idea of living here.
This continued to haunt me, at precisely 3am for many weeks after our offer was accepted. ‘How will you cope with the isolation?’ my brain would ask me repeatedly. In the middle of the night as I woke up to the glow of suburban street lights and the hum of traffic in the old house, I wondered how I would cope with the pitch black of the new. (It turns out it’s never pitch black, Ashbourne below us lights up the sky and the road is quieter, but still a soothing reminder of life going by. Ashbourne is also only as far as town was from my old house, I just have to hop in a car to reach it.)
Back to the viewing, so we got out the car, I say we, the 8yo refused to leave the car at all, and the 10yo was staying with friends. Mr A was first to shake hands, I held back a little, telling the 8yo he could stay in the car watching something on the iPad, we wouldn’t be long at all.
The owner was charasmatic and honest about the pros and cons, it was hard not to warm to him. (A good job because we would be sharing emails for nine months, right up to the last moments of trying to deliver a complex sale which has more twists and turns than childbirth). He began with a tour of the gardens. ‘Friends come and don’t want to leave. Kids coming to play turn into weekends camped out. There are no neighbours, but you can make your own village.’ Sound bites that stayed with us more than their speaker could ever realise.
Trying to find a forever home, a country home, was as much about the current resident’s story, as it is the house itself. We spent several days viewing and each time left inspired, but also emotionally exhausted by the weight of wonderfully inspiring, and sometimes sad life stories. People sell houses, it’s true.
In the garden we were amazed to find a pond, an old caravan, a barn, hedges hiding secret gardens and winding paths. The views out to the Peak District were like nothing we had seen anywhere else. Everything I have missed during my years away was there smiling at me, how I have missed the rugged hills of the Peak District I grew up under.
At some point my youngest crept out of the car and began to explore, hopping onto the tiny island in the pond to watch the fish. His iPad was soon forgotten.
Inside, after a tour together with the owner, Mr A and I walked around the house separately. We didn’t realise at the time, but we were both desperately willing the other to love it as much as we did. That only ever happened once in our search, clearly it was meant to be.
The house was full of clues that the people who have inhabited it for the last 30 years are creative souls – a carved bedstead told the story of how they met at art school, huge canvasses on the walls, book lined rooms, mid century furniture. Even the table mats were the ones my parents had, the pottery mugs the ones my Dad loves, subtle clues that we would be at home.
So that is how I came to fall quite unexpectedly in love with our new home. There were lots more twists in the tale of course, we even lost it for a while, but I will save that for next time…