643 Home, sweet home – part 7

“”I just fell in love with it”. So often you hear people say this when they have taken on a home which is totally impractical for them.

The picture you see shows the house, heavily foreshortened, and about one third of the front garden, to which you should add, behind the house, a “patio” area, so called because it is partly paved, and then the back garden proper, which is bigger than everything else put together.

Well, I had told myself I wanted the biggest house that I could afford. Not only would there be a lot of Esperanto library stuff, but also I had big things of my own, such as the piano, which needed enough space to sit in a corner rather than fill a whole room. And, although I ended up living on my own, I knew that both of my daughters would visit from time to time, so I needed at least three bedrooms. Preferably four, as any decent house has to have a junk room.

Of course, I hadn’t bargained on the garden. This was a lot bigger than I would ever have intended, but as it was almost all grass I reckoned I could keep it under control. And if you had the opportunity of owning a 4-bedroomed detached house at the very edge of a pleasant quiet village, would you say no?

So here I am. As I write this I am sitting in the oldest part of the house, originally a farm cottage probably built in the second half of the 19th century. This original cottage seems to have had two rooms downstairs and the upstairs apparently all one big bedroom. The larger room would have been an all-purpose living room. The front door opened straight onto it, and a staircase led upstairs. The other, smaller room, was probably some kind of scullery, as there are signs of a stove, or similar, having stood against the wall. The stairs and front door are now in the extension; the upstairs part is now two bedrooms – no 1 a guest room and no.2 mine. As you look at the photograph, this part is at the far end of the house.

Many rather grand houses – such as the one my rich Uncle Harry (p.920) had, on Forestry Commission land in Surrey – have a second, smaller, reception room commonly known as a Snuggery. (My Uncle Harry called it the Buggery, but he was like that). My snuggery was portrayed to me as an office, but it was added to the house as a downstairs bedroom. This is at the end of the house nearest the camera in the photo. Bedroom 4 is above it, and has become storage space for Butler Library stuff; these two rooms are, I think, the second extension to the house.

The first extension makes up the whole rear half of the house. Downstairs, apart from the staircase and a long narrow hallway, all of it is occupied by a really big kitchen. I hadn’t had a big kitchen since Palmers Green in the 1970s so this was a major selling point. To give you an idea of the size of the kitchen, directly above it are both the bathroom, which is not small, and bedroom no. 3, which is quite small.

At the end of part 6 I promised to tell you about getting here, but I’ve decided instead to write some thoughts on moving house as a general thing, not so much a hobby, more a way of life. This will be page 648.9. As for how long I’m going to stay here, anything else would be a let-down after this. At the very least I shall stay here as long as I am physically able to look after it. If all goes well, “Home sweet home – part 8”may never happen.


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