I drew the car journey straw to take HS to school in York this morning. The day started with a heavy frost under a startling blue Yorkshire sky - something you'd never see in Balham - which made a very pleasant drive. And as you enter along the Northern artery into York you come upon a 600 yard avenue of daffodils. They were nearly all in full bloom and are so bright even on a sunny morning – like landing lights on an airport runway. We see more daffodils in one spring in Yorkshire than in my whole life in London - it is a lovely time to visit Yorkshire.
....First Week in Great Bickering - mid-April 2001
I always find it amusing, if not troubling, that you can spend as little as an hour or so on what is probably going to be the biggest purchase of your life – a house – and can then spend years agonising of it.
The first week living in our new new house was an undiluted shock – the house defied an estate agent’s finest prose:
The Kitchen. It probably hadn’t been DIY’d for 30 years – Mushroom-coloured walls were not from Sarah Beany’s catalogue. The cupboards were falling off their hinges and the oven was……aagghhhh! Then there was half-tiled, half-carpetted floor that smelt of old wet dog. Pass the clothes peg!
The Larder. We stayed out of it for weeks,
The Sitting-room. The mankiest carpet this side of Krakatoa.
SC’s studio. Walls of nauseous crimson and an odour of 10,000 dead ciggies,
The Bathroom. Steps up to the bath and a carpet smelling of cat pee. Pass the air freshener!
Different wallpaper in EACH room – goodness knows what was concealed.
The rambling garden. Completely overgrown with inappropriate plants, shrubs and trees. At least it must have been low maintenance.
The Barns. Uninhabited and delapidated.
As for the house, we knew that the survey had thrown up some issues that needed work and that equated to a reduction in the asking price but now we had to find builders who could carry out the work. So, here are the London Refugees with our 2 London guinea-pigs, Mango and Pebble, with 2 weeks until our first Yorkshire school experience and surrounded by some 70 packing boxes and no paid work in this wreck of a house and grounds.
We woke at the end of this week to a 3-hour blizzard…in mid-April! Is this what our life was destined to be?
Undaunted, SC had a bright vision of how our Great Bickering pile would be……within months.