Friday 15 June 2007

Two weeks - and counting

Two weeks to go. As James and I drove to the bus this morning he said, ‘In two weeks time I’ll be saying goodbye to the farm forever. I’ll be thinking that I’ll never come here again. I think I’ll probably be crying a bit.’
I think I will too. It’s been the best of times, the worst of times, these nine years here. I moved in when I was heavily pregnant (in retrospect quite the most stupid thing to do, given I had absolutely no support system out here, didn’t know a soul.) I had the pregnancy from hell followed by the birth from hell followed by infection and post-natal depression. I wasn’t ever a natural mother. Babies terrified me (and still do). Add in the persistent insomnia and I was a wreck. I used to drive, half-dizzy with tiredness, sobbing my heart out. I realised, very early on, that we had made a mistake; that, beautiful though this valley was, we had come at the wrong time. Adrian, however, was in love – in love with the land, with walking, with chain-sawing, with tramping.

I have had happy times here, but I have never really felt settled. I have felt as if we’ve been camping out, borrowing the house. I have never had the urge (which I had in previous houses) to claim it, to cajole it, to work with it to make a wondrous magical home. So, now we are on the verge of leaving, it is with very mixed feelings.

I will miss so much:

· The early morning sun flooding in through the bedroom window.
· The house martens roosting under my office window and giving me an air show throughout the summer.
· Watching the weather sweep across the valley – lazy drifting snow, columns of rain, the odd rainbow, a one-off whirlwind.
· The avenue of maples, with candy bright rhododendrons – the tawny owl greeting us as we come home in the evening.
· The stream – with James’ island and Jack’s deep plunge pool. Beloved of herons. We never did see an otter.
· The fire in my office…
· The space – huge kitchen, huge living room, huge bedroom.
- Being snowed in from time to time – and tobogganing down the hill.
· The red deer.
· Having no immediate neighbours.
· Watching the sheep and cattle on the hillside opposite.
· Watching the hunt – the hounds working the gorse.
· Our spring water – tastes like heaven.
· Closing the gate on Christmas Eve and shutting out the world.

I suppose, when it comes down to it, I will miss being surrounded by pure raw nature. When I think of my ‘won’t miss’ list, it all seems a bit pathetic. Maybe, to coin a phrase used elsewhere, I’m selling my soul for ‘country convenient’. I don’t know.

I won’t miss:

· Driving absolutely everywhere.
· The endless clearing of docks/bracken/thistles/
· The steepness of the hill – worse than a Stairmaster.
· Not being able to get a takeaway.
· The weird electrics – if you have more than two appliances on, the lights flicker.
· Losing the light early in winter.
· The pot-holes on the drive.
· The bridge that seems ready to collapse at any moment.
· The bats – in the bedroom.
· The need for endless forward planning – the lack of spontaneity (oh, I fancy baking a cake – ah, but we haven’t got this or that).

See what I mean?

It’s a hard time to leave. Summer here is exquisite. When I think back over the last two years of trying to sell, I still can’t believe it took so long. How could anyone NOT fall in love with this perfect little patch of Exmoor? How could I think of leaving it?


DevonLife said...

Oh Jane, very poignant. Shutting the door on one part of life is very sad.

But don't worry you'll soon be far too preoccupied with the Dulverton Damp to worry about silly little things like emotions.

countrymousie said...

You do love the one you are going to though dont you. If not, I feel you will when you get your bits round you.
That kitchen looks a dream - perhaps you can recreate something similar - if not better!
Yes, never mind the damp to come, think of Victor Meldrew you have to look forward to over the fence!
Meant to make you smile not weep -love mousie
PS Great writing as always I really meant to say.

Suffolkmum said...

Really poignant and summed up those feelings of regret so well. Sounds like the house was part of a journey, rather than a resting place for you. I can so sympathise with you, stuck out in the wilds with a tiny baby, we did a similar thing and I can honestly say those first few months of my darling boy's life were pretty hellish. Small towns aren't necessarily country convenient - they can be country paradise (speaking as someone who lives in the heart of a village but stil hads to travel 8 miles to a shop).

Faith said...

I was thinking about you today as I did a bit of housework. My house is never particularly clean despite being pretty small. How will you cope with that big house - do you have help with cleaning? The kitchen photo looks great...I'm sure the new house will be even better. Bats in the bedroom? I like bats, but not there!

You'll be fine Jane; life moves on. I never thought I'd get used to living here - at least you are not changing your husband!

Chris Stovell said...

Gulp! Your elegaic blog has brought a lump to my throat... although a lot of list two looks horribly familiar. Here's wishing you lots of happiness in your new home and now, over to Walker.

Anonymous said...

jane lots of things to miss and things you not but i bet once you are settled you will be so happy a fresh start all the things you can do in the new house and you will be able to have takeaway to celebrate xx jep

Blossomcottage said...

Old doors don't close new ones just open, make sure before you leave you really do have every photograph you ever wanted of the old house, you can never have too many.
You will enjoy the new house and I am sure it will fill you lives and your hearts very quicly.

toady said...

Jane you are following me exactly a year later! I too had the beautiful country house, acre garden set in a national park but I can see now that it was a part of a journey which will perhaps continue later on. I loved the house and garden but I was terribly lonely and unsettled, homesick and missed my daughter. I'm sure the new place will work out just fine and I get the feeling that you are quite gregarious so perhaps having neighbours will be a positive thing. How is James' ankle BTW? Toady

@themill said...

You'll be almost in the new place by the time I get back. Lovely blog and I think I may well sink the narrowboat with the weight of Walker. My printer had a hissy fit. I haven't even started on Un Peus adventures yet!

Frances said...

Hello Jane,
I do agree with Blossom, that you should capture all sorts of views, tiny and vast that you, and perhaps James later, would want to peek at.
But, you are so perceptive. Both your lists are telling, and true.
I once knew an old man who was a clever writer who maintained that he was always just a little bit out of his own time zone. That he would later realize the value of some time not appreciated in its own time. Or he would be bemoaning a future, that when it arrived, often was pleasantly surprising.
What am I getting at here? Maybe that we do not always value our present tense. It is grand when we do. Even so, to look back over our shoulders and gather new appreciation is great as well. Not exactly nostalgia, mind you, more of a gained knowlege.
So, take your photos, pack your boxes, and prepare to create wondrous future memories.

Westerwitch/Headmistress said...

Bet you end up with a complete rosy glow about the old house. . . . however if you were told today that you had to stay the rosy glow would most likely turn into a red haze.

I know what you mean about 'borrowing' a house - odd feeling - never settled, knowing that you will move on. . . right from the time you move in . .

Kitty said...

You say you've never felt settled and I know what that means - although you love it, you probably won't look back. We have had two houses before this and they've always felt like houses-in-waiting. This felt like home even with damp (snap!), awful wallpaper (snap!), broken stairs (I hope not snap - the bank manager put his foot through one, oh dear), mice, woodworm...

Even when we moved back in early because we couldn't afford anymore rent as well as the giant mortgage and we had concrete floors and no kitchen and everywhere was dusty and dirty and cold (I so sympathise with Milla too) it was still most definitely home.

Dulverton will be the same for you I think - you have loved it for so long anyway, once you're in you'll still love it despite it's shortcomings and soon it will be all sorted and you'll be like a pig in clover. Mixed metaphor there?

Good luck with the move - I'm thinking of you. xx

Un Peu Loufoque said...

Yes please to wallpaper photograph!! Enjoy your last few weeks!

Un Peu Loufoque said...

We have electric collars for the dogs innotek I think make it, if you are interested I will email you detials, cheapest place ebay and it works like a treat even on our two mad tractor chasers!

Iota said...

You write beautifully with a mix of the practical and the emotional. That is just what houses are: practical places to live, but homes to dwell in too. Of course it all sounds idyllic through my rose-tinted foreign spectacles, but I can understand the negatives too.

Bluestocking Mum said...

Have just been catching up on your last 2 blogs.

Oh, Jane. I have so felt like this on a couple of occasions when leaving homes.But it always turns out right in the end, you know...

Just think of all the things you will be able to do with so much more time on your hands from driving everywhere etc.

It was only the sentimental things and the nature that I missed with the old Station House-Really, really, when I look back, it was SO impractical and caused us so much grief truth be told, we were glad to be out. It didn't stop me crying the day I left and every day for the next 6 weeks after though...

Your new house looks very lovely and the gardens...I am sure you will charm your neighbours!...
But I know what you mean-we have no choice but to mix with ours here-in the past I didn't have neighbours or played at being a total hermit and hid indoors every time they were around!

I can guarantee there will be sun flooding through your new bedroom/office window and some different birds etc...

warmest wishes

Grouse said...

The place you are leaving sounds just like the place where I am! Bats in the bedroom, potholes, flickering and forward planning.........thats my home.......but how exciting to be moving to pastures new.........just so exciting!

bodran... said...

Your moving to the kind of place i want but being greedy and in love with my space i couldnt part with this one..I feel the hard work that is ongoing here is never going to get easier and everything gets harder every year,Ragwort season is upon me soon and i've always weeded by hand the 20acres and all the surrounding lanes.. i would so love to just not bother and have a rest and enjoy july..wheres this gone ? you can tell i'm tired..and yes Darn bloody hills..xxxx

Pondside said...

Sad and lovely blog this evening, Jane. I know what it is to leave places - some I've loved and made completely mine, while others I've left with unseemly haste and glee!
In this morning's paper I read about our Lt Governor, a lovely lady named Iona Campagnola. The motto on her personal coat of arms states "Change brings peace".
That's what I wish for you as you move on.

Milla said...

How could you forget the mice, in your Won't Miss list?? It sounds sensible, though, Jane to do a spot of mourning for the end of an era, but if your move is anything like mine (me me me) then once you're in, you just won't look back. A new adventure for you all to do together all, more or less (!), in fine physical fitness (limp faster, James, keep up) and, hey, it's why you put your house on the market, isn't it? As you know I never felt home at our last house but do so very much now and love it so much I could squeal. Good luck.

Maggie Christie said...

I know exactly what you mean about 'borrowing' a house. I used to tiptoe about in our previous house, so not to disturb the 'owners'. I felt awkward and apologetic when decorating it and spied upon when I was gardening. I never really settled. I wish you all the very best with your move and hope you quickly lose the 'borrowed' feeling at your new home. Have I got it right that the new place is in Dulverton? If so, I'll give you a wave next time we're visiting our friends in Petton Cross!

Jaynebeth said...

We've just decided to start a new project, mainly due to my inability to accept our current house as home. On the other hand every room has a memory of family life - moving on will be difficult.

Pipany said...

Oh this sounds so familiar. I lived in my first proper house, a 400year old cottage, for eleven years. It was the first house I had ever bought and I lived there longer than anywhere in my whole life. We sold it as a means of saving the marriage - you know, fresh start and all that rot - and I cried when the agent hammered the sign onto the wall! It was the right thing to do though, as is your move. It has to feel like it yours and the next one will, I'm sure xx

CAMILLA said...

Dear Jane,
Dont forget to take a picture of Lee Farm to frame, will be nice to take with you and your memories of it. It sounds as if the new house will be a lot easier for you, which will be a blessing. Oh forgot to say, the list you mention - no more blackbirds pecking on windows!