After Mum died, we were left with the quandary of what to do with her house; it had sold but the buyers pulled out on the Monday after her funeral, which at the time made me inwardly groan and think ‘Oh bloody hell, another thing to deal with’ but may have turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We ummed and ahhed because the house needed a lot of work and did we really want to take that on? Then lockdown happened and nothing could happen anyway, it gave us time to think. We could do the house up, live in it for a while (three to five years) and then sell it. It’s a far bigger house than ours, in a lovely location, so it would give us time to look around for a house whilst giving us more space than the property we’re currently in (honestly, we’re bursting at the seams here). So we found a project manager and started to put things in place for when lockdown lifted.
As work began, secrets were uncovered; a cellar with a vaulted ceiling; a well in the kitchen. I have walked over this well all my life and never known it’s there, which whilst it’s an amazing discovery, is also slightly unnerving given that it probably wasn’t actually all that safe. A very old suitcase in the attic containing drawings my Dad had done, party invitations (he was quite the party animal in his day it would seem), a pair of old slippers, his old school tie, parts from cars and interestingly Christmas and Birthday cards revealing he had a girlfriend called Diana. That was a funny one because I knew my Mum had had boyfriends and even that she was engaged to somebody else when she met my Dad but I had never known or even thought that he had had girlfriends; I suppose in that way that we consider our parents as sexless beings, it had just never occurred to me that there was anybody before my Mother. But then, my Dad was closed like that whereas my Mum was an open book; for instance, I know that she left her fiancé for my Dad and that he was sat on the edge of the bed blow drying his hair at the time and her enduring memory of this poor chap, was him sitting on the edge of the bed, crying over the noise of the hair dryer. There were also albums and albums of photos from the seventies and eighties, one titled “Album covers” which are mainly my parents sitting in different places, staring thoughtfully off into the distance. It was not them seriously making album covers but taking the piss out of each other. I miss their humour dreadfully but it lives on because my somewhat warped sense of what I think is funny, is theirs and actually, Ruari’s sometimes misguided humour is too. That seems to have been the one thing people have consistently shared with me, how funny, and fun my parents were.
There have been other discoveries too, so whilst there are the amazing discoveries of the well and the cellar (cool), there have also been discoveries such as the wet rot, the dry rot, the woodworm (not so cool) so what started off as a big project has become eye-wateringly large. The more we reveal, the more money is needed, which is always the way with old houses and what was a three to five year house has become a ‘I think we’re going to need to stay in this house for more like ten years’. Even with the bonus discoveries, they add on extra money to the budget; the well needs to be made safe to walk over, not such a big thing but the vaulted ceiling in the cellar is unstable so is sadly going to have to come down and the room needs tanking to make it useable. But that’s fine and whilst it doesn’t have the garden size that we desire, it makes up for it in so many other ways; good catchment area for schools, great pub, countryside, good commuting links and many other bonuses.
The boys though are slightly uncertain about this plan.
“We don’t want to move from here” is something we’re getting quite often and promises of separate bedrooms, bigger bedrooms and more living space so that we’re not all constantly tripping up over the metres and metres of train track that Tom builds all over the house, are met with:
“But we live in a cul de sac here and we can ride our bikes”, I mean, I find this an interesting argument given that they never bloody ride their bikes round the cul de sac.
“We don’t want separate rooms! We want to share!” Really?! I mean they argue ALL THE TIME and complain about how if one of them goes to their room for alone time, the other follows, do they not want their own space?! I WANT THEM TO HAVE THEIR OWN SPACE PURELY FOR MY OWN SANITY!
“We won’t be able to walk to school from there.” We don’t walk to school anyway because a) we’re always too late and b) when ever the planets align and we do actually find ourselves with the time to walk to or home from school, the whinging is so PAINFUL that I rarely do it. For two children (Tom doesn’t count because he just cruises up in the buggy) who complain so strongly about having to walk, I am amused by this argument.
But understandably I suppose they have reservations about it being Granny’s House too. This was also one of our own doubts when we were initially considering it and something people ask often.
“Won’t it feel weird as it was your parents’ house?”
I don’t think it will because we are completely changing it, it will be like a new house once it’s done. We are moving walls, stairs, rooms even, so I don’t think it will be a concern. The only thing we all struggle with is when we stop referring to it as “Granny’s house” and call it “Home”. I have started calling it “The House” but David still calls it “Your Mum’s House” and I wonder how long it will be “Granny’s House” to the boys.
“Kids like change” somebody said to me the other week but this generalisation is not true of my children, they like routine and familiarity and whilst they’ll adapt, because, well, they have to, it will take them a bit of time but I hope when they have settled, they will see that it’s a good change.