House for Sale by Angela Caldin
Our house is on the market and we’re living in a world of estate agents, viewings and trying to keep things tidy and depersonalised at all times. We’re moving on after thirty years of living in this lovely Edwardian semi in a premier road within easy reach of the shops and all facilities, as they say in estate agent speak.
It wasn’t always a lovely house: when we first moved in, it had been extensively ‘modernised’ by the previous owners to include a sunken floor/conversation pit lined with shag pile, a television nook or cranny where the fireplace should have been and wooden slats on each side of the French doors complete with light bulbs in between the slats to create the effect of a Singaporean tea plantation manager’s house in a Somerset Maugham novel. Gradually we put back the original features, dispensed with the shag pile and restored the house to its former glory. In other words, we made it just like everybody else’s house in the street with double folding doors between the two reception rooms and big kitchen/family room at the back.
When we arrived here we had two children and thought our family was complete, but before the first year was out, a third child arrived. ‘Oh yes’ said several of our friends, helpfully, ‘new house, new baby, it’s a well-known phenomenon.’ Not to us it wasn’t, but we had the loft converted as a result and set about adapting to being a family of five rather than four. Those three children have flown the nest now; in fact they’ve flown more or less as far away as they possibly could: one is in New York and two are in New Zealand. That’s why the time has come to sell the family home so that we can buy a smaller place here and also somewhere on the other side of the world in Auckland where our three delightful granddaughters beckon to us with all their energy and fun. It’s a very privileged position to be in, but I can’t help feeling protective towards the house as various people tramp around it indicating which walls they would knock down in order to bring the place up to the standard that a twenty first century family expects.
To Everything a Season
I know it’s only bricks and mortar (and some rising damp and a leaking conservatory roof), but I can’t help feeling sad to leave a place where so much has happened. There’s a pear tree in the garden which leans over the lawn in a graceful arc. It was covered in white blossom when we put the house on the market and I’m conscious that when the pears ripen, with any luck and the wind behind us we’ll have moved on. Between spring and autumn I’m hoping that there’ll have been a major change in our lives. I love that pear tree when its blossom floats over the garden and it puts out fresh golden green leaves. But when the pears form, the pigeons start pecking at them until the fruit falls messily onto the ground to be hovered over by hungry wasps. We pick up the fallen pears each day and throw them away as very few turn out to be edible. I hope we leave before the pears start to fall.