A Year

 A year - a long time and no time at all.  This last strange year has often felt stalled, coming round again and again, living in the groundhog day of lockdowns and restrictions but when I lift my head and really look at it I can see what a lot has changed and how far we have come.

This time last year we were living in our old house on the hill, waiting to exchange contracts on our sale, surrounded with boxes of books and china.


And exactly a year ago today it had snowed.  We walked up to the top of the hills and tried out our snow shoes and were amazed by how beautiful the white world was.





And then in February we moved.  It was sort of a wrench to leave the lovely old house and it sort of wasn't.  The fact that the new house was beginning to emerge from the mudbath of the building plot was so interesting and so exciting that it felt right.  It felt time to move on and shape the new stage of life and we knew that in our old house's new owner, we were leaving it in good hands.



Here is the house in  February beginning to emerge with the foundations dug and the shape of the rooms in the low walls visible against the soil.  The highest structure on the site at the beginning of February is next to Ian here - a taller pillar built to house the electricity connection.  



And by May the walls begin to rise and the shapes of the windows start to hint at a house and not a building site.


And in May we went to Scotland before the midges struck and I fulfilled a long held wish to see Iona.  I had been reluctant to go when things were busy in case the sheer press of people and commercialism ruined the image of the place which had been in my mind for years but one of the unlooked for results of the pandemic was an empty Iona, quiet and still and luminous.





And the house carried on growing.  Here it is at the beginning of June with the first floor emerging and the sense of ceilings and more shapes.  I can't tell you how exciting it is to see something move from a plan to a reality.  Even the smallest bits of progress entrance me and an appreciation of the amazing complexity of the machine that is a house will be with me for life now.



In June we went to Bodnant Garden which was throwing out its glory whether we were in lockdown or no, vaccinated or not.   Still things grow.




Double vaccinated with a French covid pass and tested at every turn we made it to France for some time with family and then friends and Italy for a few days with some friends from the States.  The world was still out there.  



And back at home the house continued to grow.  Here is Ian upstairs in what will be our bedroom and the outside of the house with a real roof!




And we end the year with windows in and rendering going on outside with plastering inside.  There is still a long way to go but it feels real.  We have started to choose door fittings and paint colours and  to plan where furniture is to go.

It is not a quick thing to have a house built and lots of people have asked me if it is stressful to which the answer is that it is and it isn't.  By that I suppose I mean that we have decided to enjoy the process as much as we can.  We won't do this again.  Once you are committed to enjoying it as much as you can it is easier to let some of the stresses go.  We have decided to go with the flow and accept that it takes as long as it takes.  It helps enormously that we have a great builder with a great team and that we are not trying to do this while living on site in a caravan with a number of small children and jobs to run!  I don't think we could have contemplated doing this at any earlier stage of life and we feel very lucky to be able to do it now.  It takes a lot of engagement on our part and I would not dream of attempting it by myself.  Ian has an eye for things which might pass me by and a practical cast of mind which is endlessly valuable.   Again we are fortunate that we are both interested in the whole thing and that our strengths are a little different and I hope complementary.

Where will we be in another year's time?  Who knows.  We may be in the house.  That would be good.  But as long as we and those we love are happy and healthy it will be fine, whatever it is!  What a difference a year makes.


Comments

  1. I do hope that you will be in your house before another year goes round. If not, you will certainly be champing at the bit by then! It looks well under way now anyway, and I hope your dreams come true VERY soon. Lovely to see your past year in one post. We hope to get away for a few days or even a week this year - it would be our first proper holiday for many many years.

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    1. It was a really good thing to take this step back and look at what we have achieved in a year. It's quite substantial! I do hope you get your holiday. Sometimes just a few days away revivified and energises and even makes you appreciate home more!

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  2. Gosh it takes a long time to build a house, doesn't it? I discovered Montenegro in October, my first ever trip there and a joy so great that I plan to retire there asap. I am considering renovating a small house, or possibly building one. Either way the prospect of doing that from afar, with language barriers, new construction techniques and a different climate to consider, is utterly daunting, and also totally thrilling. I too hope you're in your new place before the end of this year. It looks just lovely.

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    1. Doing a building project from afar would daunt me! But how exciting and how lovely to have that as a long term aim. Very best of luck with it. I'm really looking forward to experiencing out house as a home after all those fun of the house as a project! Fingers crossed it won't be too long now.

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  3. Hope another year sees the house done, and you in there loving it. xx

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    1. Thanks Anne. I'm really fascinated to find out what it is like to live in a house which has been designed and built around us and our interests and desires. Never had any experience other than moving into an existing house so I'm curious as to how different it might be, or not!

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  4. From last year to this - what an interesting reflection on the involuntary holding pattern caused by the restrictions imposed during COVID, and the current chosen holding pattern as progress continues on your lovely new home. And once you are in, the creation of your new garden can begin! Your holiday looked amazing, I loved seeing the house in the rock face. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I doubt we will ever travel internationally again, so it is a vicarious pleasure for me.

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    1. "Involuntary holding pattern" is a perfect phrase for life in covid times. Love it. I'm just beginning to think about how the garden might work but it's so different from anything I've had before I think I can't really plan it until we're there. All just so interesting!

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  5. It's good to reflect back each year and count blessings. Last year was one of the most difficult of my adult life - lockdowns, disappointments, bereavement, illness, moving house, troubles one after another... topped of by a cancelled trip to France at Xmas. And yet the other day I listed half a dozen joys too. There is always balance I guess. But overall I'm hoping for more ups than downs in the year ahead. I hope yours is similarly positive too.

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    1. I do hope this year is a good one for you and your family. You are right about positives. When we had our couple of exceptionally hard years a little while ago with the illness and death of parents it was still there case that new babies came into the family and that there were reasons to smile. Here's hoping you have many more reasons to smile this year!

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  6. What a lot has happened in the past year. I look forward to seeing the progress of the house (and, hopefully, you moving in) in the coming year.

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    1. I'll show you some more progress soon! It's lovely to share it.

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  7. So good to see the progress on the house. It sounds like you are allowing yourself to "go with the flow" and enjoy the process. Everything this last year has been so stop-start yet you have achieved so much - travel, family and house. Enjoy what 2022 brings you.

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    1. Going with the flow is definitely the idea! It's interesting. The more you commit to doing it the easier it is. Someone asked me again today if we were desperate to get in and we're honestly not desperate, just like to see things moving gently along every week!

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  8. What a lovely catch-up. I love that you feel you have left your old house in good hands, and one day, when everything finally falls into place, you will move into another much loved home. All the best for 2022!

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    1. It really is good to have passed the house on to someone who loves it and is doing all sorts of new things as well as looking after it. I'm interested to find that the house now does feel very much hers. I still feel fond of it but my heart is with the new house now!

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  9. New house, new life ... A lovely experience looking at how your own house is growing week after week. I´m looking forward to reading your next post. Thanks.

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