Archive of ‘At Home’ category

This little house

We’ve been here a while now, and there’s something about these four walls, something that is good for us.

This little house, with its red door and sloping garden, with its one single and two double bedrooms and potential to extend, with the kitchen diner we opened up by knocking out a wall, with the shed which we dream will one day be a studio, with its split-level patio which could do with an overhaul… this little house is ours.

It’s been more than three months since we suddenly found it belonged to us, since we picked up the keys and drove the children here and popped the champagne in the wine fridge we were so delighted to see left behind. It’s been more than three months since we bought a bed and a vacuum cleaner in the sale and borrowed a dining table and worked out that the fridge door doesn’t close if there’s anything in it (thank goodness for the wine fridge) and we started making our home.

You see, we’d been moving around, for a long time.

I left Edinburgh, where I’d been at home while I studied, more than 11 years ago. Since then, away from home, I’ve missed birthdays, weddings, friends, babies, life, deaths. I moved to Taiwan, then after a a year, I packed up a bag, travelled around beautiful, beautiful places on the way to moving to New Zealand with the intention of returning home soon. I didn’t. There was a rickety old flat that swayed in the wind, then an apartment that leaked, then a simple rental by the beautiful sea, then back to the leaky apartment and then our first home. It was beautiful, I see that now, but while we lived it, it was cold and hard work and a renovation project to big for the likes of me – although Tony wouldn’t be beaten. And then we moved back to London, to the place I grew up, but it was all temporary, until we found here.

This place, our home.

Where our children run down the hall with bare feet and squeal so loudly before bath time I feel bad for the neighbours. Where they have both fallen over the garden steps enough to know now to tread carefully, which means we’ll delay for many years getting the patio done properly. Where they share a bedroom which I keep nagging Tony to strip the wallpaper from so we can decorate to make their very own. Where Milin has settled, where Jasmin still calls the ‘new house’ and where Milin no longer finds fills him with melancholy homesickness because it is new. Where we have worked out the quirks of the downstairs toilet and porch door. Where we’re yet to try the two gas fires, and where we’re yet to bring in our very own dining table and where we’ve already got a stain on the dark grey sofa and a faulty light switch and just the usual things that happen.

We might not stay here forever. How can we, with our families on opposite sides of the globe, ever call anywhere our forever home? Well, it is forever, for now.  Because this it the place our children call out in the night, the place they cry when they’re sad and the place they laugh – oh how they laugh together. This is the place where we hold each other when it’s late and we are done with our days and haven’t any answers other than that we are here. This is the place where we will scratch their heights into the door frames and hang our pictures on the walls. This is the place where we will turn on the lights in the morning and gather ourselves before taking on the day. This is the place where the children will make handprints in red paint and learn to write their names, this is the place where they sit on the bottom step to do up their shoes. This is the place where they crawl into bed with us in the morning and rub their eyes and say their first words of the day which never fail to surprise us with their irrelevance.

This is the place, already, which is our forever for now. Because we are here, together, and we are happy. These walls have helped us get there, to find this place.

Life isn’t perfect. It’s rubbish in so many ways for so many reasons. But our little house with the red door makes some of the sharp edges and ill-fitting pieces of the jigsaw matter a little less. It gives us a place to come to each other when we are a little more broken, and a place to be as we try to fit the pieces together to mend ourselves, it gives is something that matters for us, that we needed. This place which is ours, it is our home. For us, for now.

playing reading books with daddy children laughing photo (22)

And then the fun began...

Living In Our Dream Home

dream house patio and garden

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been living in our new house for over six weeks. I’m still calling it ‘new’, but I’m not sure how long I can keep sticking that label to it. Of course, it still feels new (to us), but it is also feeling more and more like home. Little touches are making it our own, and we are gradually making our mark on every room. Happily, so far, we still love it here!

Six weeks feels like a good time to look back on how we have settled in. As you all know – moving in was such a long time coming. We spent two and a bit years with my parents while waiting to be in a position to buy our own little place in this leafy corner of North London. We spent hours trawling over sites about mortgages before then becoming obsessed with property alerts.  And then as soon as the house we ended up buying dropped into my inbox, I had a quick check on the mortgage calculator. Could we afford it? Just.

When Tony and I saw this house, we both fell in love with it immediately. I promised I wouldn’t buy any more new clothes and that I’d even enjoy being broke if it meant we could live here… But then for eight months we kept on thinking we would lose it as various life obstacles and property chain dramas got in the way.

Finally, at the end of June, we were suddenly exchanging and completing within a fortnight. We collected the keys. We were in. We’d never imagined ourselves in a little terraced 1930s house on the very outskirts of London with two babies in tow. But here we were. And we’re still pinch-ourselves-regularly-because-we-don’t-quite-believe-it happy.

Dream House

Other than that wall we’ve knocked down between the kitchen and dining room, and the shelves we’ve put up in the front room, we’ve not really done much other than enjoy being here. We loved it the day we saw it, we loved it the day it became ours, and, now that we’ve been here for nearly two months, we really do feel like it’s our dream home.lounge playroomopen plan kitchen dinerfront room home office

I’ve been thinking about the things that make it that for us. I think the size is a big part of it. This isn’t a big house – but it feels perfectly cosy for us. We have three bedrooms, so the children have their own rooms, we have our front room which we use as a home office, and we have our open plan kitchen/den/diner/lounge/playroom which we basically live in. We have bright white walls, simple furnishings which mix the old and the new, and we have big bay windows which we adore.

I’d love to buy a dining table (ours is borrowed), I’d love to put in new kitchen cupboards and find an old armchair to upholster for under the bay window in our bedroom…. but not having these things doesn’t change that this is our home.

The garden is massively important to us. I love that the children have so much space to run. We’ll bring our trampoline over from my parents at some point, but for now they’re happy enough digging holes in the mud, writing with chalk on the paths, and picking daisies from the lawn for me.

The ‘man shed’ is huge – but it’s also our project. It’s Tony’s space for screen-printing and as a working artist and illustrator, he’s dreaming of one day turning that big old shed into a two-room studio and work room. It’s going to be a major undertaking – we need to get (expensive) experts in to get the asbestos shed roof removed (!) and then we basically need to rebuild. But, it will be worth it and it’s so important to Tony to have that space.

the man shed

Our other big dream project is the patio. At the moment it’s split over three levels and the steep concrete stairs aren’t in great condition. I’d love to get a landscaper in to one day to advise us on how to level this all off with big paving stones and wide stairs down to the grass… but budget-wise, this could be years away!

dream house patio and garden

dream house from garden view

These tasks, and the loft conversion to give us another double bedroom (with an en-suite) are all part of the bigger picture, but they don’t stop this house from being perfect as it is right now. The only thing that would make it our ultimate dream house would be for it to be by the sea. We both miss living near the ocean so much, but we traded that life in to be back in London. Lucky we, at last, found our dream home here!

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

Our Fitted Shelves – A DIY Project

front room shelving

We have taken another little step towards making our new house feel very much like our home. A little weekend project in the front room was lots of hard work for Tony, but we’re both so pleased with the result.

Our front room is a kind of home office for us both. Tony works from home as a freelance designer and illustrator, and also works on many of his screen prints and paintings here.

I work in the office for four days a week, but I still do a little freelance writing and writing for me. And so, we thought I also finally deserved a little desk space of my own in our new home office.

Oh – and we haven’t left the children out of this room. We’ve bought a new sofa, mounted a television on the wall – and this is their chill-out space. Tony and I barely ever watch tele, but there were already holes in the wall where the previous owner had a bracket up… and we thought the easiest way to cover them up was with another bracket. The kids are happy – but they prefer their little child-sized chairs to the grown-up sofa! (They do most of their playing in the back room where all their toys are. You can see more of that room and how we knocked out a wall to make it an open plan living space with the kitchen, in this post on making the kitchen the heart of our home.)

But back to our home office… It already features a beautiful gas fire – but on either side there are big empty alcoves. We have spent a month looking for bookcases or cabinets for these spaces but nothing was quite right. We also looked at getting shelves and cupboards fitted – but we can’t really afford to have this done.

And so, this Saturday morning, Tony measured up the alcoves and off we all went to Homebase. We bought four lengths of unpainted pine shelving which was 30cm wide and about 10cm longer than our alcoves so we knew they would need to be trimmed to size. pine alcove DIY fitted shelves


While Milin and Jasmin ‘helped’ with their toy tools, Tony spent Saturday afternoon cutting the shelves to size. Even though our walls appear pretty straight – each shelf measured up slightly different for the space it was to go in. Tony cut them with a handsaw in his beloved shed/workroom and then marked and measured the walls to work out where the fixings would go – while also ensuring the shelves would be level.

Jasmin didn’t like the next part – drilling with a masonry bit 6mm holes into the walls to fit the plugs – but that was over quickly. Tony then removed the heads off screws with a grinder and popped them in.

DIY home shelf screw fixings

white pine bookshelf

The shelves were painted to match the room on Sunday morning and then got a second coat later in the day before being slotted in. Tony touched up the paint work and painted over the screws, and finally the following day, we unpacked our boxes of books. These shelves won’t take very heavy weight in the middle – but we’ve learnt that and we’re happy with how they look and satisfied that they’ll do what we need from them.

fitted shelves in alcove DIY project

We love the shelves, and we’re debating whether to put in another one on each side of the chimney, under the existing two. If I could spread out my books a little I’d have some room for the odd pretty thing… I’m not sure I want them to get too low though as I like the space over my desk. In the other alcove, where Tony’s books are, I think we need a little cabinet. What do you think?

home office shelving desk and fireplace alcove

*Sponsored post: This post was written in collaboration with Homebase.

Our Bay Windows – Looking in to our New Home

window cleaning fantastic cleaners London

Tony and I have realised we both love bay windows. The light the bring into a room, the extra space they can create – there’s really not much to love, is there?

Our first home in New Zealand, a 100-year-old wooden bungalow, had large bay windows on either side of the front door. Our bedrooms were in these rooms and their huge sun-filled window seats were the best spot to spend an afternoon and evening.

One of the reasons we were drawn to our new home here on the edge of London was again bay windows. We’re so lucky to have them on the ground floor at the front and back of the house – and upstairs, in all three bedrooms. Our house isn’t big – but these windows definitely make every room feel more spacious (especially little Jasmin’s box room!)

But while these stunning windows make our rooms seemingly larger and capture as much light into them as possible – they do make cleaning a little trying! I don’t mind cleaning in general – in fact, I quite enjoy it – but I hate the amount of time it takes which is basically time that I’m not spending having fun with the children.

We were fortunate that when we moved into our new home the previous owner had taken such amazing care of it. Yet as part of our moving in process, I was really keen to have newly cleaned windows. Tony, bless him, wasn’t convinced about the necessity of getting the professionals in. Once we got them in though – he had changed his mind. I’d not wanted him on a ladder scrubbing away – despite his Kiwi-can-do attitude, I thought it was best to leave it to people with all the proper equipment and training! I could have done the inside myself – but we have been so busy that it was low on the list of priorities for me!

window cleaning fantastic cleaners London

And so,  Fantastic Services popped round one morning and spent a couple of hours soaping, scrubbing and wiping clean our windows, inside and out. They hadn’t looked particularly grubby to begin with, but once the guys were done – they looked amazing. Sparkly, shiny, and they hadn’t missed a spot. In terms of friendliness and professionalism – these guys really did live up to their name too. 

window cleaners

It’s funny how things like window cleaners suddenly come important when you have your own home. It matters these days, to me, what our house looks like from the street and while we’re looking back at it from the garden. It matters when I look out that I can really see what’s out there! And finally now I’ve convinced Tony of the same. If only he’d take what he’s learnt inside… tidiness indoors has never been his strong point!

cleaning bay windows London

*Fantastic Services treated us to a window clean for this post. Thank you! Do check them out if your windows need a little love. The company allows you to book pretty much anything you’d need done around the house (oven clean anyone…?) from an app on your phone, or via your desktop. I’m building up a wish list of little jobs – regular whole house cleans are at the top – oh the luxury! 

window cleaning Fantastic Cleaners window cleaning

An Open-Plan kitchen – the Heart of Our Home

open plan kitchen diner

We have been living in our new house for two weeks now and, very slowly, we are starting to make it ours. In some ways I feel like we’ve been given a blank slate on which to make our mark. In other ways, I feel like I still see so much of the previous owner everywhere.

We fell in love with this house as soon as we walked through the front door for the first time. Well, I think my love affair started when it popped up in my inbox on a property alert. I remember being almost too afraid to call the estate agent about it – it was a bit more than we thought we could pay, and I knew once we saw it, we would be smitten.

One of the very big drawcards for this, our new home, was that the decoration was very neutral (perfect for us to make our own when we could afford to!) and no major renovation work was needed. Our last home was a complete doer-upper. With a three-year-old and a one-year-old, with Tony and I both working, we didn’t want to go through that again.

However, there was one change we wanted to make before we moved in. It involved taking out a wall and so we wanted to have the job finished before the children were in the house. And so, we got the builders in.

When we bought our new house it featured a separate kitchen and dining room. The kitchen was narrow but light and bright – but we wanted to open it up. We used builders my parents have used before, and they spent two days removing a radiator and knocking out the wall between the kitchen and dining room. Their work, their finishing on the walls and floor, it was all perfect and just as we’d hoped. Here are the two rooms which used to have a wall between them.

open kichen diner wall knocked through

What it means is that the dining room has become a kind of everything-room. I cook and potter in this space, the kids play in it, we eat at the table, the kids also have their own little table in one of the alcoves beside the chimney, and this is really where our living is done.

open plan kitchen diner

We have another room at the front of the house that I guess most people would have used as their living room… but we’re going to be turning it into a home office for a very exciting project (more on that another day though…) That room does have the television in it so it does draw Milin in, but we have the bulk of the toys in the back open-plan room, where there’s also quick access to the garden.

And so – our kitchen really has become our living space. We’re still to put something up on the wall over the fireplace, we’re still to take delivery of the two-seater sofa we have ordered for the back wall of this room too – but it’s getting there.

Over the weekend, we had friends round, opened the doors to the patio, let the kids run in and out while we ate – and I felt so glad that we’d got the work done despite it being a ‘nice to have’ and not a ‘need to have’.

I’m now able to see Milin and Jasmin when I’m in the kitchen. They can get involved with what I’m doing, and I can play with them while also doing things that need to be done around the house. There’s a long way to go, but it’s the first step towards making this house our home. We’ve given it a central point to come together and be together in. It’s the heart of our home.

diner new house family kitchen

What Makes a Home?

So what makes a home?

Is it the wedding cutlery in the kitchen drawers or the personalised towels in the bathroom?

Is it the furniture you’ve spent months searching for and now happily use because it’s perfect?

Is it the children’s artwork on the fridge or the letter from nursery pinned on the notice board?

Is it the forgotten tennis shoes by the front door?

What makes a home?

Is it the years spent making memories within four walls, just by living right there?

Is it blowing candles out on birthday cakes at the same table every July for a decade?

Is it the grooves in the door frame which show how much a small child has grown?

Do these things make a home?

Is it the boxes in the loft which have been there forever but will never be forgotten?

Is it the stain on the wall which reminds you of where you burnt the Christmas pudding?

Is it the sound of children being soothed in the night by their mother?

Is it the sound of children learning their letters at bedtime with daddy?

Is it their laughter, at every hour, is it their joy?

Is it the sound of their feet running down the hall when they look for you?

What makes a home?

I don’t know what will make our new house our home.

Perhaps it will be the feeling our children come to know – a sense that this place is safe and is theirs.

Perhaps it will be the the joy that they bring into our lives while playing in this garden, while eating at this table, while laughing in this lounge, while following us around the kitchen, while sitting close to us on the sofa.

Perhaps it will be that we are all together, just us, finally in a place to call ours.

There will be tears and regret and words spoken too harshly. There will be sadness and worry and fear. But there will also be comfort and strength and laughter and love.

What makes a home?

We shall see. We will make our home. It shall be us.

children and daddy at bedtime

Moving House with Children – the Hardest Part

Our new house

We moved into our new house a few days ago, and although we don’t have things like sofas or book shelves, it already feels like home. Well, it does to Tony and I. For the kids, things are a little different.

Children drawing at easel in new house

We always knew moving them at such a young age would come with its challenges. Aside from the sheer logistics of calling on my mum and others to entertain them while we did the physical moving of box after box, there’s been the emotional drama too.

Jasmin, at 23 months, seems to be taking things in her stride. She has spent her entire life so far living at my parents’. But she is now happy to be in the “new house”. She’s not spent a whole night in her cot yet – but that rarely happened in our old house anyway. Content to explore the new garden and play with her old toys in a new setting, she is probably too young to feel too much concern. She has always been clingy – and happy that I’m not going anywhere without her, she is fine.

Child watering plants

Things have been different for Milin. He’s been incredibly unwell with a virus and a terrible bout of asthma-like breathing problems. It meant he spent his first night upset and awake a lot. He cried out more than once, half asleep, “I want to go back to Nanny and Papa’s house.”

When we got back from the GP the next day and pulled up in the driveway, he said the same thing on seeing where we were.

My heart breaks a little for him each time he says it. I know he’s unwell and wants the things that are familiar to him as they will bring him the most comfort, but it still makes me sad that he doesn’t quite want to be here yet, in our new home.

I have heard so many people say that children adapt quickly. And I’m sure Milin will, and he’ll do it probably once he is feeling more well. For now though, he can’t quite understand why we have moved.

We moved in with my parents when he was 13 months old. It was two and a half years ago, and he knows no different. To him, their house is home. It is a place of fun and joy and love. He knows there is always someone to play with him there, he knows how steep the stairs are when he climbs up them, he knows his bed is pushed right up against the wall so he can’t fall out, he knows he can reach the front door handle to open it when the doorbell goes, he knows how to get up onto the trampoline by himself.

In that house, he has a little step in the bathroom he sits on while brushing his teeth, he has a sofa he always goes to when he’s tired, he has a little collection of sticks outside the front door, he has a place he always plays Lego, a place he lines up his cars. It is home. He never understood it was temporary – he couldn’t have.

In time, he will come to recognise the sound of the new doorbell, he and Jasmin will choose their chairs at their new little table, he will have adventures in the rackety old bike shed, he will stop getting his feet stuck in the gap between the bed and the wall that exists because of the skirting board.

For now though, he’s a little boy who doesn’t quite feel sure why we have moved. He doesn’t understand that we needed our own little space to be a family of four. He doesn’t understand that he will still spend three days a week at Nanny and Papa’s while Tony and I are at work.

I hope he understands though that even though we might move around, our little foursome will always travel with each other. And, wherever we go, whichever four walls we find ourselves in, our home will be a place where we are together.

Children in shed in new garden

Home Renovation – A Blog About Our First Home

Moving into our new home in London has been so incredibly different to the experience we had with our first home in New Zealand. As well as now moving with two children in tow, the house we have bought this time round is completely different to our first home. The biggest contrast is that we need to do very little to it – in fact this was one of the main things that attracted us to it. By contrast, our first home was a complete ‘fixer-upper’.

I’ll save the few little house projects we do plan to undertake in our new London home for another post. But tonight just thinking about the differences between our first two homes has made me want to write about them. And so, this isn’t a post about looking forward to our plans. It’s a post about looking back on our first home, our old home that is now someone else’s. And it’s about the lessons we learnt in that renovation project.

new house bathroom home renovation

This little picture of me in our new bathroom in London is what made me realise just how different the two houses are. I felt compelled to take this as I wandered around our new house the first day it was ours, taking it all in. Why? Because I couldn’t believe how sparkly the tiles were, how bright and functional everything was, and how shiny and clean everything looked and felt.

old bathroom

It was so different from the first day in our house on Daniell Street in New Zealand. On that day we’d just opened the Veuve when Tony took a sledgehammer to our bathroom floor to see how rotten the floorboards were.

home renovation bathroom floor

Tony and his wonderful old friend Anton ended up ripping out all the floor, adding some new piles in, regibbing the walls and then putting in a new bathroom suite. We paid for a plumber but other than than – they did it themselves. For a week we were bathroom-less. I cycled to the gym as soon as I got up each morning just to have a shower before work. At night we snuck into the hospital at the end of the road to use the bathroom.

We had bought a house with a horrid bathroom that tenants hadn’t looked after. We had known it was going to be first on our list of things to do. And while we smarted at the cost of the plumber, we bought the other suite in the sale and managed to keep costs low. We were so happy in the end with our little narrow bathroom where the shower didn’t leak, the floor didn’t squelch and the strange partition was gone forever.

new bathroom home renovation

A coupe of months later we tackled our next big project – the kitchen. It had been so dirty that I’d not been able to bring myself to use the oven those first few months. We began by ripping out all the units – Tony salvaged what he could for his shed, and the rest was dumped or sold. We found that part of the floor was concrete under the lino (the rest was beautiful ancient matai hardwood). We sourced some reclaimeed matai and eventually had the floor polished and that little corner told a story. Beneath it was a load of bricks which Tony later used to build a little wall for our feet at the breakfast bar.ome renovation kitchen floor

With Anton, again, and his sister, Tony again rewired, repiled, regibbed, repainted – and basically did everything to get the space ready for our new kitchen. We splashed out on granite – Tony’s decision – and we loved our little blackboard wall we painted at the end of the room.home renovation new kitchen

Thank goodness we embarked on this project in summer. I got bored of takeaways and washing tea cups in the bathroom sink – but at least it was warm outside and we could break up the sandwiches and takeaways with barbecues!home renovation new kitchen project

Once it was done, our kitchen was a joy. Milin would sit in his high chair at the breakfast bar and watch birds fly from their nests in our garden. We looked out on to a karaka tree, stepped out of the French doors on the deck, sat at a breakfast bar handpainted with Tony’s art and used the blackboard every day. A bell on the wall had been made at Tony’s grandfather’s foundry, our beautiful mango wood table was a wedding gift and became the place around which we spent many an evening with friends.home renovation new kitchen open plan

home renovation living room

We spent a year painting walls, sanding frames, building things, fixing things, getting quotes, replacing glass, redoing guttering… it really was never ending. After we’d cleaned up the big front bedrooms, Tony built wooden wardrobes in the spare bedroom and a bedroom and shelving units in our room.

home renovation painting

home renovation bedroom

Again, everything was done on a budget (Tony carried the headboard he found second hand, online, home on the bus; the wood for the shelving, cupboards and drawers was quite cheap ply he stained himself…) – but in the end of it all, we were proud of our home.

This experience so far with our new home in London is so different. We are still looking forward to making it our own, but we are grateful not to be embarking on such a major renovation. With two little people around – it would just be too hard. We also know now how costs spiral… this time round, there’s no money for that!

I didn’t particularly enjoy DIY or renovating either – the bits I enjoyed were the smaller scale things which still made an impact. This time, we’re doing very little. We’ve got a list of nice-to-haves – and, in fact, we’re starting on one of them in a few days time… Overall though, our projects will be smaller. For now at least!



Let's Talk Mommy

A New House to Call a Home

new house living room fireplace

We had given up all hope of the house we fell in love with becoming ours. Then last week the solicitor rang. I didn’t answer the phone. I didn’t want to hear it. She rang three times.

So I called her back and she said “Everyone is ready to exchange today. Shall we do it?”

And so last Tuesday we exchanged. And then on Friday we completed.

After not believing it would happen, it actually all happened rather fast.

We’d seen the house seven months before. We’d put an offer in immediately.

As soon as I walked in, I knew it had to be our home. I hadn’t got any further than the entrance hall. Tony later told me he looked at my face right there and knew the same.

But for seven months we felt like it was slipping away from us. Our lives became more complicated, those involved in our chain experienced their own personal dramas. It felt like we would never all be ready at the same time, within the time frames our multinational bank had determined for us.

Then something changed. Suddenly, without us daring to believe it, the shattered fragments of a broken London property deal began to pull towards each other to make a whole. And they did, on Friday.

new house red door

“Congratulations” the solicitor said down the phone. “You can pick up the keys.”

And so we took the children in the car to our new home.

new house unpacking boxes

It is the first place that we will call ours as a family of four. It is within these walls that our babies will grow, that they will one day be able to reach the door handles, and that we will etch marks into the wood to measure them as they get taller. It is under this roof that they will put on their first school uniforms, that they will blow out their birthday candles, that we will stick their drawings to the wall. It is here that they will wake in the night from dreams that haunt them, but find comfort in the arms of their mother. It is here that they will spend rainy afternoons, it is in this garden that their sunflowers will bloom and my lillies will return every year. It is here that we will come to find each other after the worst days and seek out each other after the best ones too. It is here that we will laugh as well as cry and where we will smile as well as worry and despair.

New house living room

It is here that we will grow.

This little house, far away from many people we love, but close to others we love too, it is ours.

We will make it our home.

Exchanging Contracts In A Chain – And The Deal Falling Through

I had everything hinging on one day, and that day went wrong.

We didn’t exchange on the house. We have been left in a state of not-knowing, a place where there is a lot of darkness, and a place where we feel like the ground beneath us isn’t very stable.

To cut a long, complicated story of house-not-buying short, the top of the chain got cold feet (we’re at the bottom), and the deal didn’t go through. It still might, but more than ever now, it also looks like it might not.

It was a horrid day. I had begun, finally, to let myself believe that I might spend the weekend in furniture shops. I had begun, finally, to hope that we might spend the one week we had between exchange and our intended completion date madly packing boxes.

Instead, exchange day got worse and worse every hour. I hung on to hope for as long as I could. But it didn’t do any good.

I’ve learnt a lot about myself in this house-not-buying process. I’ve learnt that I’ll always be guided by my heart, no matter what. I’ve learnt that there will always be a part of me that actually would rather run away from London and go back to live by the sea in New Zealand. I’ve learnt that no matter what, it’s what’s best for the kids that comes before everything else. I’ve learnt that I find it harder than I thought to really open up about heartache, despondency and disappointment. And I’ve learnt that a new pair of shoes, two pairs of trousers, two cardigans, seven pretty tops, some new make-up and a good amount of chocolate will help me feel better.

There’s not really much more to write about I guess. We don’t know what we’ll do. I know our lives aren’t bad and we’re so fortunate in so many ways, but we always had our own flat then home in New Zealand, and we miss having a little place to call ours these days. We want to put down roots for our family. We’ve been in London for two and a half years now, and we’re still not settled. Of course we’re still hopeful that next week brings better news. But more than at any point in the six months since we offered on the house, I’m not sure I have any more hope to give it.


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