Last week two of my Potential Buyers were promoted to VP&PB (Very Positive and Possible Buyers). They were so positive and so possible that they returned with a surveyor and suddenly – very suddenly – I was convinced we were leaving The Nest.
I told my friend Jolls this at Naughty N’s prawn curry and pavalova Jubilee party.
Jolls nodded thoughtfully. “How do you feel about leaving?”
“Blissfully unattached,” I said convincingly.
I sipped my champers in a casual manner and did a kind of slow, hip rotation. This was a distraction technique to stop me throttling Screechy Bethan who was hysterical choking on the words “blissfully unattached”.
(If you are a man reading this NEVER do the hip rotation. It was a mistake on my part but as I’m a woman it’s excusable. If you are a guy doing hip rotations, women will think your groin has a sleazy mind of its own – like a female-detector cobra – and they won’t talk to you. I know this for a fact so please , have trust.)
Jolls didn’t notice my hip rotation. She was still mulling over my imminent house move. “And do you know where you’re going to go yet?”
“White lie! White lie!” gasped Screechy Bethan so loudly that I thought the whole room might hear.
“Hey, chill kid. No white lie,” drawled Zen Bethan. “She’s got the Vision Board.”
EXACTLY Zen Bethan! So, the truth is that I haven’t actually FOUND the house we’re moving to yet, but I do KNOW where we are going. Like Zen B said, I have the Vision Board. It is called The House of Bethan – inspired by the House of Chanel – and you like you can view it here! You may have to be registered to Pinterest to see it. I’m not sure ….)
Anyway, the only worrying thing about The House of Bethan is that I couldn’t seem to find it in the rental section on Rightmove. I looked. And looked. But couldn’t find it. But just because something doesn’t exist on Rightmove, doesn’t mean it isn’t there, so desperate to put Screechy Bethan’s mind at rest, I decided to go and find our new house vintage style.
Have you ever gone house hunting vintage style? If you want to there are a few prerequisites you might want to consider:
*A community where you half know everyone and if you don’t know them, you know their sister’s mother in law.
*A wave of millionaire Victorians who built mansions, stables, outhouses and servant quarters (now converted into rentals) at the turn of the century then passed on their wealth to their grandchildren.
* A well spoken accent.
* A slither of charm.
* The balls to ask random people if you can rent part of their house.
The first person I visited on my vintage house hunting was not the descendent of a Victorian millionaire, but the widow of some wealthy geezer who worked in Atari. He’d left her with a sprawling, beautifully manicured fairytale lush-house, down a gated track near my children’s school. I name dropped a previous lodger who I thought was respectable, but who made Mrs Atari screw up her face and declare something that I shall not write. Luckily an ability to make like a posh person and charm it up won her over.
The property in question was already let.
Five minutes later I was directing Ads down a track into some wild, hopeless jungle of trees. Tucked in a clearing at the end was a turreted, fairytale of gothic gorgeousness.
“Did you know this place has been used as a Hammer House of Horror film set?” I asked Ads matter-of-factly.
“That’s not very fairytale-like,” Ads said.
“No,” I mused.
We found the owner in a walled garden, guarded by vicious geese and while she wished us luck in our Vintage Quest, alas, there was no spare wing to rent. Admittedly I was sort of relieved with this one.
Now. My third idea for lodgings DID belong to the descendent of a millionaire Victorian. You may have heard of the Twining family? They were a family quite partial to tea? They not only own a mansion and various coast cottages, but they also rent out a small hamlet with its own chapel. All very Catherine Cookson/Snow White and the Huntsman (which incidentally I watched last night and thought was fab … especially Bob Hoskins who was one of the dwarves).
“Why hello. I am looking for Mr Twining,” I declared in my most Snow White-ish toneage to an ancient old lady on whose door I knocked (in the hamlet). Over her shoulder I could see a wood chip hallway, painted the most nauseating margarine yellow I have ever seen.
“Up there, love,” she cackled and pointed back up the hill to the biggest, most sprawling, fairytale mansion of them all. So up Ads and I drove, then down a winding drive way, until finally we ended up at Wolverton Manor – home of Mr Twining Esquire.
“Nobody’s answering the door!” I mouthed to Ads, who was guarding the car (this involved sitting in the driver’s seat and talking on his mobile).
“I’m going to go around the side and see if there’s another door!” I mouthed, pointing and gesturing wildly. “See you in a sec.”
As I poked around the various doors and windows of Wolverton Manor I began to feel a bit annoyed. Why was I having to trespass around all these bloody mansions anyway? I felt more like cat burglar than a Vintage House Hunter. Finally I found a gateway with a sign that said “Beware of the dogs” and had a picture of ths gnashing beast that didn’t look dissimilar to Hagrid’s Fluffy. Swallowing any fear, I pushed open the gate and was greeted by a small terrier and another very ancient old lady.
“Can I help?” she croaked.
I explained my plight, which had now taken on the glib beat of a sales pitch repeated two million times.
She nodded thoughtfully. “I’m Mrs Twining and I know that all our tenants are long term. We have nothing at the moment. I’m very sorry my dear.”
Shoulders a bit slumpy, I thanked Mrs Twining and turned away. But then, just as I was pushing open the gate she called after me. “There is one place though. I think it’s used as storage at the moment, but it has three bedrooms and the most marvellous sitting room fire!”
Haha! The gorgeousness of that woman! We headed down to the place she suggested and it was GORGEOUSNESS ITSELF. Can’t believe it was being used as storage. The house had three massive bedrooms, a dining room/study, huge windows that looked out onto the glistening blue sea. There was a lovely little garden and a thriving artist studio just a stones throw from the door. It wasn’t exactly The House of Bethan, but it was pretty damn near.
“The only downside is that the owner’s mother lives in that cottage over there. She hates children and is a real old witch,” said the girl who was showing us around.
I shrugged. All fairytale places have to come with an old witch who hates children, right?
Returned home that afternoon feeling elated and relieved. Screechy Bethan was sedated/exhausted and had gone to bed. Zen Bethan was smiling knowingly, like she’d known the outcome all along. I sat down with a cup of tea (Yorkshire, not Twinings) feeling like a great adventure into the unknown was about to begin.
Then the phone rang.
Potential Buyers had been in touch.
And guess what?
“They love the house but feel that they aren’t quite ready to buy a second home yet. They aren’t sure that they’d get enough use out of it at this time,” explained Estate Agent.
So strange, this life.
One minute we are in a fairytale mansion, the next minute we are back in the fickle ocean of reality that is life accelerated and changing with every breath and turn in the road.
That evening Me Acre came round. She had just come back from a trip to Moldova (which I will tell you about another time). On the way she had stopped in Munich to visit my soul sister Janin who had sent on a gift for me. (Incidentally, if you were reading the Venus Transit posts, you’ve got to check out what happened to Janin after she sent in her Gorgeousness wishes. Read the article HERE then check out her comments below!)
A little wooden house that has a door for every member of the family!
Isn’t it the most beautiful thing ever?
The idea is that you leave little notes and secrets in each other’s compartments. We’ve all had such fun with it, especially me and my little boy who have talked through his whole birthday via his door and mine.
Also, the house has been such an amazing reminder of what home really means. I was nudged into realising that it so doesn’t matter where you live, or what sort of walls you have, it’s the people who inhabit The House Of Your Family that truly make a home. Thank you darling Janin for that. Loves you loads. xxx