We’ve lived in our house for over a decade now. It’s nothing special as far as houses go. A three-bedroom, semi-detached, ex-Council house on the edge of a medium-sized market town in Somerset. But it’s a nice, well-built house, with friendly neighbours and a reasonably large garden for where it is. And it’s on a nice street in a nice part of town. But it’s not just our house. It’s our home.
It is, of course, far from perfect. The roof leaks a bit and some of the radiators have started to develop an alarming amount of rust. The plumbing in the bathroom is shockingly bad, though thankfully just about functional. And the kitchen is just that little bit too narrow to allow two people to cook together.
We also have a very sturdy but rather old boiler that necessitates a vent in the outside wall of the living room, through which the icy winter wind creates a swirling vortex of cold air at precisely the height of the gap between the top of my slippers and the bottom of my pyjama trousers.
But it’s a reasonably old house, so we can forgive it some ‘personality’.
It’s not clear exactly how old the house is, to be honest, but it must be coming up to its centenary sometime soon. When we bought it, the estate agent said it was from the 1950s, but I suspect that may have been a bit optimistic.
The elderly gentleman who at that time lived next door claimed to have been born in his house in the late 1920s. And given that his house and ours are two halves of the same building, it’s presumably reasonable enough to assume that they were built at around the same time.
Back when we moved into our house, I must admit that I saw it simply as a place to live. Somewhere to cook our meals, do the laundry and store our stuff. But over the time we’ve lived here, the house seems to have absorbed something of our presence and to have developed a personality of its own.
We’ve become a part of it, while it’s become a part of us.
I was sat drinking a cup of tea the other day, watching one of the doors swing gently back and forth in a draught from somewhere or other, and it was as if the house was actually breathing.
Despite this, our house is, I suspect, never going to feature in Ideal Home magazine. It’s a bit scruffy, there’s always something that needs a coat of paint, and there seem to be muddy Labradors everywhere.
But it has foot-thick walls that keep us safe. It has a sturdy roof that keeps us (mostly) dry. It has a garden in which we can grow much of our own food. And it’s in a community of nice people who say hello when you see them, help each other out when they can and are never too busy to stop for a chat.
So while ours is nothing special as houses go, as a home it’s pretty damn perfect.