Housey-housey (iv)

Over the past few days I’ve been thinking about homes I’ve had, not places I’ve lived like my family’s home, or places I’ve rented, but the different houses I’ve owned. My first place was a purpose-built flat I bought with a friend, then a semi-detached house, where I lived on my own, and then a bungalow which seemed a blessed and lucky place because within a short while of moving in I found I had a husband and then two children.

I had been in the bungalow for about a dozen years when we had the opportunity to move to the southwest, back to the town where my parents had lived and where I still had their bungalow. I had kept it so we could come down every fortnight to have my disabled sister home with us, and to come and stay for longer in the holidays. It was just perfect therefore that for the interim we could move into my parents’ place until we found somewhere which could accommodate us.

The bungalow, called Petrimar by the people who’d had it before my family, was in the heart of the village. It was right next door to the pub, yes my beloved Dolphin – and it wasn’t much further to the other excellent pub in the village, less than a couple of hundred yards from the school where the children would go which was opposite the village shop, almost opposite a great restaurant, about quarter of a mile from the beach, and on the edge of open countryside. As a location it was perfect; the village was small but had all the essentials, but the town was only a couple of miles away, and the nearest big city about twenty miles.

The bungalow itself was detached, with a small but not tiny lawn area surrounding it, a tiny vegetable patch, green house and shed at the back. As I mentioned, the pub was on one side, and on the other the Uphill Great Rhyne (a rhyne is the Somerset word for a drainage ditch). The neighbours across the road were lovely friendly people, and so were many of the other people we got to know in the village. From having visited so regularly for so long, we knew people before we even arrived in the bungalow.  There was a small glass fronted porch before the front door, useful for taking of wet raincoats and muddy boots, and then a large hall. From that hall were doors leading to every other room. The main bedroom was at the front to one side, the sitting room on the other. The bathroom was between the front bedroom and the smaller back bedroom. The galley kitchen ran along the back of the house and was open into the dining room, separated from it by waist-high cupboards. The sitting room also led into the dining room, through double glass doors. The outside walls of every room apart from the bedrooms had large picture windows, only one wall of each bedroom had a huge window as there were built in wardrobes. At the back of the bungalow, outside the kitchen and dining room was a good sized extension, but it was only single-glazed and not really big enough to be used for anything other than a garden room – except it was on the wrong side of the house and didn’t catch the sun.

A couple of years before my parents had moved in, the village had been flooded and my dad who had a very acute sense of smell detected a lingering aroma of river water. We noticed it when the bungalow had been shut up for a while, but living there it gradually faded away. Because of the flood, the previous owner had had new carpets, furniture, decoration, electrics, everything as her home had been pretty devastated. So everything was modern, and when my parents moved in, only a couple of years old.

We’d always had the happiest of times there, Christmases bulging at the seams with friends and family, New Years seen in, including the Millennium, friends round for meals, relatives to stay, birthdays celebrated, summers enjoyed… it was a perfect home, including a garage and a carport and for some reason an extra toilet outside, I suppose for when people were gardening. We loved it, but when we moved there a couple of days before Christmas in 2001, we knew it would have to be temporary because it had only two bedrooms. With a son and a daughter sharing a bedroom was not an option, and we weren’t in a position to extend the bungalow, and to be honest, I’m not sure how it could have been done without a virtual rebuild, totally reconfiguring the rooms and layout.

We knew when we moved in that we would have to move out, and began looking round for somewhere with more accommodation than the bungalow offered. We would be sad to leave, but ready to move on, it had many happy memories there, and we would take them with us.

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