Uprooting a House of Fun
We are currently moving out of our house, and it feels like being in a hot air balloon (not that I’ve been in a hot air balloon). I’ve seen balloonists (?) on films, having to cut loose a big sand bag from the basket with a blunt penknife, and that’s the bit I mean. It is especially hard work cutting something loose when you want to keep it.
I have been sorting things out all year, giving this or that away, selling a bit of the other… turning the attic out onto trestle tables at car boot sales… Back in the summer, Tom took the old butler sink from our garden, and the olive tree from the front. I bought that tree in the East End back in 2004-ish, so Bow seems like a fitting new home.
“Sorry Pamsy, it looks a bit brutal doing it like this, but it has to be done” he said. Cheeks flushed, eyes stung and my heart lurched suddenly. I disappeared for a while… I hate watching garden-y things being dismantled. “Brutal” seemed like the right adjective and it came out of nowhere. I’ve had a few moments like that. The other day I tried to buy another roll of our kitchen wallpaper with geckos on (because it’s always been in my mind to take some with us) but I found out it’s been discontinued. This situation totally threw me – another wave of curve-ball pain. Another time I was heaving some flatpack in through the front door, and I suddenly remembered the day we moved in to our house. I had made a list of everything I wanted. On the day we moved in, I discovered that yes, the double buggy fitted through the front door, JUST!! A few grooves were worn into the paintwork over the years, but they reminded me I had ticked off every point on the list that I had written down when we prayed for a new place.
I love our house. I have always tried to hold it lightly though, because I believe it was a gift from God. We used to live over the road, but we’d walk past this house and Fin would point at the stars in the window and saw ‘Ciffmiff Yiy!’ (Xmas lights). We asked God for that house and sure enough it eventually came on the market. It was way too expensive but Colin went to mortgage people who said yep, we could borrow enough money if he just signed on the dotted line to say he earned ‘X’ amount (which he didn’t). Colin being Colin, he pointed out that they were asking him to lie, so they scuttled away, muttering under their breath. One day he went to the Halifax and as they said ‘you can borrow this much’ he watched the screen, and the amount literally moved up in front of his eyes: we pounced.
And so we moved in to a house we couldn’t really afford but many lodgers came and went, paying us rent. We had a housewarming/ new years’ all day breakfast party with a hundred fry ups. (I wouldn’t recommend this idea by the way, because you have to stand at the cooker to do a fry up so basically we stood there all day!) The best memories have all been in the garden though. The garden seems massive to our small boys. “Let’s get our shoes on and SAVE THE WORLD!!” shouted Fin. Zac had to clarify, “With toys or with our bodies?”
A million such memories I could tell you: paints at the easel; chalks on the stones; tiny friends poking bits of gravel into the grooves in the decking; building a treehouse and dangling saws above small visitors’ heads; pulling down a row of conifers with ropes and then charging around between the fallen trees with swords; makeshift cafes with bits of leaves in plastic bowls; slug hotels; camp-outs with absolute last, last last chances given before everyone had to come inside; a camp-out when the birthday boy himself DID move inside; Fin calling the decking “the stage” when we first moved in; massive ‘health and safety-free’ BBQ’s; Easter egg hunts; the ‘Dark Destroyer’ (Colin in a graduation gown) chasing kids around at a party; this birthday water fight:
My strategy is this: try and turn sad feelings into thankfulness. So thank you SO much, house and garden, for many, many happy times.