One of the things I needed in choosing a new home was nothing about the house itself but more to do with the proximity of a decent local. The kind of place where you can savour a pint of proper beer, one that tastes of elderflowers and caramel instead of preservatives and alcohol. But it wasn’t so much about the beer, for me a pub is a place to sit and talk, have conversations like “who’s the most famous person you know?”, “what are your top ten favourite films?” or “what was your best holiday ever?”. It’s a place where the worries of the day recede and you can truly relax.
On our hunt for a place to live, we started out looking at towns, then large villages, then wee ones. Somehow we ended up setting our hearts on the cottage in the middle of nowhere, where the closest neighbours had four legs and baa’d whenever you came close. But, oh, the view. It made up for everything else. Well, almost.
“But there’s a pub within walking distance,” we told ourselves. And a big supermarket 10 minutes in either direction. In some ways it had better facilities than my house in Birmingham, where I’d trek for 25 minutes to the nearest decent pub, and though there was a corner shop, the nearest supermarket was 20 minutes by car.
But the more we found out, the more improbable it seemed. The water came from a bore hole, the oil fired Aga would have blasted out the heating day and night. You’d need to keep it on in summer just to be able to boil an egg. The garage was too small to fit a car in, and though there was plenty of land, there wouldn’t be much chance of getting a garden to grow. And however you looked at it, it was too small. But though my head said no a thousand times, my heart knew different. It’s been the only place I could imagine myself living. I could see myself waking up in the bedroom, washing up at the kitchen sink. Working in the room I’d bagged as my study.
But the dream is not to be. Yesterday we did some more investigation and found that in the end, the house won’t work for us.
One day in the future we’ll pass by that place, and I hope I’ll be able to say “It’s a lovely cottage, but it was so wrong for us.” I hope we’ll stop in for a pint at the local that was never to be, and think “This is nice, but our local’s nicer.” And then we’ll head home to a place I can’t imagine yet. But in its own time, it will come.