When we were house-hunting in 2005, I made a list of 10 things I wanted in a house.
Some of them were fantasies, pipedreams, improbabilities. A detached study, ponds, at least an acre of garden, and since we were in England, stone walls, rambling roses. A stream around the property.
And being a Christian, I prayed through the list most days–passionately, I must confess!
And then, chills ran down my spine, when I saw this house in Garsington advertised on the internet, after we had looked at just one house, a farmhouse, with a “healing” well mentioned in the Domesday book with an acre, yes, but in the one of the worst areas of Oxford (in terms of crime and poverty) and in bad repair. Living in a house that costs way more than the average neighbourhood price might not augur well for safety I thought, and did we want to spend our time doing repairs.
I instantly knew I wanted the house, as I looked at the pictures and details. It had 9 of my 10 desiderata. The agent never had an easier sale.
Picture perfect, roses on its stone walls, a detached upstairs study (“a granny annexe”) with views over farmland for me, a 1711 house. An acre and a half around it.
Way too expensive. But perfect! We bought it, and made the life-style changes to afford it. I started a business, which has been among the most interesting and compelling things I have ever done–a publishing company.
It was my dream house. I was thrilled. Till I saw a friend’s house, same acreage, but her living room faced her large pond, whereas my pond was out of sight. She also had a large sunny conservatory. She said they was thinking of selling her house. It was 60% more than mine. Buy another dream house?
Or be content, and stay rooted. We instead built a large conservatory, twice as large as any of the rooms in this old house. I love it.
One does not need perfection. Better to learn the fine art of being content.
Also, given that it has taken us four years to set up this house, and we still have boxes to unpack, I simply cannot contemplate doing it all again.
And moulding and reshaping a house is satisfying. We are constantly tweaking it, putting in new lighting, new bookshelves. We now eat in the conservatory and our dining room is a library with wall to wall bookshelves. I love it!