Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Missing Years

Last year, my husband and I bought a house. Not a house to live in, or to holiday in, or to rent out for profit. We bought a house for our daughter to live in. Don't get me wrong, she does make a contribution to cover the mortgage repayments but it is well below what we could expect from the market rental value. We bought a house for our daughter to live in because she was desperately unhappy with the accommodation she could afford in London where she works - unhappy to the point that it was making her sick.

My daughter has traded her single room with a kitchen and bathroom shared with strangers that intimidated her (she is not the outgoing type) for a two bedroomed house to herself (and her fiancé when he is not studying hard at a University in the middle of Wales). She also has me just a short drive away to offer support when she needs it. The change in lifestyle has made a corresponding change in her happiness and well being. I have had the gratification of being able to help and gained a babysitter and running partner.

For the last couple of days, I have been at the house providing access (and tea) for a couple of chaps who are fitting new double glazed windows. The upstairs is all done and looks fantastic. Rotten window frames and glass dripping with condensation are gone, much like the London room misery. Modern, clean, efficient double glazed units make everything seem much brighter.

Out with the old, in with the new.

It is a lovely little house. Once I got over the fact that a 2 bedroomed end terrace house here in Sussex cost as much as a  4 bedroomed detached  house back in Shropshire where we lived previously, I began to really enjoy the whole process of property purchasing. I spent many happy hours on the Rightmove website perusing possibilities. We viewed three of those possibilities and fell in love with one. The house reminded me very much of the first house I ever bought (many years and a husband ago).

I call the twenty years I spent married to my first husband "the missing years". My current husband, the love of my life, was at my first wedding. If fate had aligned itself in a slightly different configuration, he could have been at my wedding as my groom. We could have begun our life together twenty years earlier - experienced buying our first home, starting a family. It didn't. We didn't. I can't regret any of the twists and turns of my life but I also can't help wondering about the missing years. We filled in a big chunk of the missing years when we unexpectedly started a a second family. We joke that we have a 100% extra free life - 100% supporting our grown up children and trying to find time for ourselves, plus 100% meeting the demands of our two growing children and throwing ourselves into family life. Of course that second 100% is not really free - we can get incredibly tired and over stretched - we pay! 

Buying the house, so similar to my first starter home, provided another opportunity for a buy one life get one life free experience. It was an electrifying thrill to be handed the keys. We opened the door on a "what could have been" and filled in the missing years with cleaning, decorating, fixing and best of all, sourcing essential furniture on a very tight budget. We achieved an incredible amount in a short space of time so that it would be ready for when my daughter's London lease ran out. We made a home. We made a home then returned to our actual home filled with furniture and memories collected over time. We returned to our actual home feeling a wonderful sense of connectedness and with hearts  less justified in their yearning for missing years.

The missing years were not wasted years. My husband and I both lived full lives doing the things we wanted to do - just not together. Our togetherness now seems to make anything possible. We have so much living to do in whatever time the Gods see fit to allow us. If the price is that I sometimes feel tired and over stretched, that is a very small price.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Goodbye January

It is the last day of January, which also happens to be the birthday of one of my friends - a very special friend. I am fairly sure that the birthday card I sent him will not have arrived on time, which pretty much sums up what the whole of the month of January has been like. I have never felt on top of things emotionally or physically, I have been unable to sustain much in the way of productivity in either a practical or personal sense and the days have lumped one atop another in a gloomy, suffocating mass of mostly bleurghh-ness (best description I can manage). I think maybe that is just what January is.

This January has also been punctuated by the deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman and now Terry Wogan. Although I can never claim to be a fan of Terry Wogan, his presence in my life via his radio show (played in the car by my dad when driving me to school) and the annual Eurovision song contest hosting, is undeniable. It seems as though the fabric of "influential celebrity figures in my life" is being eroded quicker than I can adjust. And I haven't even mentioned Grizzly Adams!

It hasn't all been bad.

There have been some beautiful sunsets and the days are getting noticeably longer.

We enjoyed one almost perfect snowy day (perfect because the snow lasted for one day and was gone) 

I have managed to do two parkruns with the time for my second improving by 2 minutes. If  only improvement were linear and sustainable, I'd be achieving my goal of a sub 30min 5K well before my next birthday (a birthday that I am very excited about this year on account of plans that involve running and four of my daughters and foam).

There have been plenty of good moments (and although many of them involve being snuggled up in bed under my duvet that does not in any way make them less valid) but overall I am not sad to see the back of this January.

So to finish, a very happy birthday to my special friend, and goodbye January.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Addy Picks her Nose

We had snow today - not a huge amount, but enough.

Enough to make the world outside my window look magical...

 enough to get the kids excited...

 and enough to build a snowman.

We had a glorious, rosy cheeked walk through the woods by our house,

and the inevitable snowball mayhem.

Such a lovely way to spend a Sunday.

Of course, the title of this post makes no sense without my final photograph:

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