When googling home, the above picture came up. When I was little, I would draw a house as gable end (I would have said the pointy bit on the roof as a kid), it would have had the very British 2 windows either side of the door, which would be right in the middle at the bottom and 2 windows right above the down stairs windows. A chimney would have been a must. A squiggle, swirl for smoke coming out of the top. Nothing strange about that right? Well, no houses looked like that where I grew up or went to school.
The houses were mostly terraced, or end of terraced, some rendered and painted, but mostly they would have been made of granite. A bit grey looking. Our house was rendered and white. A HUGE Victorian end of terrace. For 4 years, 4 generations of my family, lived in that house all together. Some would say cheek to gowl, but the house was large and I didnt really know any better. I shared a room with my nieces, who are 9 and 11 years younger than me, I was therefore a 14 year old, sharing a room with a 3 and 1 year old. Older readers will remember comments or a story some where on here, where I used to sing and twirl with my nieces. This is around this time. It was at the time a great embarrassment to me. One slightly nasty girl at school, went around telling everyone we were poor and that my Grans shared the same bed, just like in the book and film Charlie and the Chocolate factory. By the way, this person now has 3 kids and last time I saw her, she introduced me to her kids in the town centre, as one of Mummys really good friends at school. I sure as hell dont remember it like that.
My Mother, hurriedly bought this house, when my father was very ill. I dont think she had any list of what she wanted in a house. It was for sale, the person who had lived there had died. The house was a monstrocity. It had purple swirly carpets, horrendous huge flowery wall paper (this has come a little bit back into fashion, but this house is probably why I wont ever have big flowery wall paper). An orange carpet, and a bar. The house had previously been a guest house, what we would now refer to as a B&B. Behind the bar, was a HUGE mural.
Let me set the scene, go through the door, a Victorian pine door, that had hard board over the top, to cover up the age of the door. Maybe a foot from the door frame to the left is the back wall. Go through the door, turn right, on the wall facing you is huge wall paper with palm fronds, the bar is in the corner on the right.
On the wall behind the door, is the mural. Not just any mural. Nope, not angels or cherubs or anything of beauty. No, not the Sistine Chapel. No, no, no. This was a jungle scene, opening out to a water pool. On the left was a tree that in its branches had a huge black panther painted on it. Its eyes, gleamed and looked at you. There was a bird of paradise, in a tree on the right, the branches of both, framing over the top, giving an aperture to the watering hole where many animals were drinking. ("Deep in the undergrowth", lol I think only Brits will get that line... )
You can imagine it. Very dark, and actually my sister remembers it being extremely vivid. The person who painted it, was actually really good. My parents may have pictures of it, I will have to ask.
All of this, with a thick pile, orange swirly carpet.
What was really awful, was in the hall, when we had to all help strip the wall paper, were childrens pictures drawn on the wall. As I type this I have goose pimples and the hair on my head is raising. My sister is convinced that the house was haunted. She says that when she went into labour with my eldest niece, she was woken by a man in the room that sat on her bed and was trying to talk to her. Now, I must say right here, I dont believe in that stuff, I read about it, and vampires etc. (Its spooky yes, but I dont believe it). I think maybe she was half asleep or something... Anyways. Later in the year, we all helped to get the paper off. My Brother going at the paper like a crazy person as he wanted to go and see his friends. When all of a sudden my sister lets out a squeak and faints. My sister doesnt faint. Nope, that would be me, I have the low blood pressure.
There on the wall is a really well drawn picture of a mans face. (goose pimples again). A bald head, all but the tuffs around the ears, like a falling halo. I can still see it in my head and I was a kid, so this is burnt in my mind. I remember the smell of the musty paper, now damp. My mum rushing to my sister, tapping her on the face, rubbing her arms. Her cooing to her, that she was OK, just wake up, your OK. She kept saying it. When my sister came around. She was deathly white and said in a shakey voice. "Thhhh thhh tthhh THATS HIM, the man from my room". (Serious hair raising and goose pimples now, I really should talk to her about this one time, it is only all really coming back to me as I type this and this is completely not the blog post I had in mind at all).
Following this, my grandmother, became even more religious. We had every denomination of vicar, priest etc come to the house and bless it. We went to serveral different churches where we received, special church blessing and were given holy water. It all sounds very dramatic now, but my gran being 'Foreign', we needed to make sure no one had sent it to us. Yeah. Um, right. Can you imagine how scared I was as a kid, for all of this to be happening. I was taken out of school and sent to the farm where my grandfather still worked the dairy. His wife, my grandmother (the English side of my family), had Alzheimers from a very young age. I blame this partly on only ever being on a farm and not having anyone to talk to. But thats another story for another time.
My mother, I think from the stress of it all, ended up in hospital and had bacterial meningitis. Myself and my nieces werent allowed in to see her. We waved through a window. She was there for 6 months. My Gran said, she thought a curse was at work. (I am not joking at all, she searched the house and garden with my brother and his friends, who she paid to look. She burnt all of the plants she didnt recognise pulled up the small trees in the garden and burnt those as well. We all had new clothes, more blessings and holy water... By this time, I am sure my brother got more than a few beatings at school and lots of fights for 1, being from a weird family, 2, everyone thinking we were even more foreign than our surname, 3, my parents owned quite a few shops and people didnt like this, 4, no one could quite work out, where my grandmother was from, could we be German??? - remembering at the time, we lived in a town of mostly older retired people, it was pretty much 99.9% caucasian, there was and I think still is a Conservative club where there was an area where only men were allowed and a womens bar where both could be... slightly going off on a tangent here, but you get the picture. My Gran then surrounded the perimeter of the house with rosemary, lavender and feverfew plants. It was not uncommon to find cloves in the pockets of your coats. Incase someone from the old country hated us and was sending us the bad Djinn. To hurt us... When my gran used to say this to my friends parents, I think they thought we had been sent a bad bottle of GIN and that they had been ill from it.).
It took 28 coats of white paint to cover the mural. The head and the eyes of the panther were still there in feint outline. If this was me now, I would have smashed the plaster of and had it redone. Hindsight is lovely isnt it.... lol We then had, LAURA ASHLEY wallpaper, oh er Mrs, werent we posh! My gran paid for it. Everything matched. Curtains, walls, cushions. Yep we were certainly fashionable.
Why am I typing all of this. Well my mum bought the house without a plan or list of things she wanted. Which is why when they moved, my parents had a list that made it nigh on impossible to find. They did find it, but they had to buy it, and then sell their own house. This search lasted for 4 years. FOUR YEARS!!!
You have seen my rather loose list before, but to be clear here it is again
- must have parking
- must have a double garage or an area to build one
- a large garden, an acre would be lovely. More would be fantastic.
The last one is what is so tricky as we would like to be as close to the sea as possible. I dont really care what the house is, we can change that to anything we like. with builders. Obviously, it will have to be in budget.
Over to you, what made you buy the house you are in? What is your dream wish list for a home that you would like to stay in forever? Is my list too vague? Do I need to add anything else to it?
p.s. the picture at the top looks like the house from Amityville Horror to me. Is it just me?