As I sit here writing this blog, I am staring out the window of my family home. A 400 year old farm house surrounded by fields. The decor of the house could be described using lots of different words that still wouldn’t get across what it actually looks and feels like. People have tried… estate agents, previous owners, my mother (the last designer). Over the last 12 months the inside of the farmhouse has taken a few turns that leave me heart broken to be surrounded by, simply because I know the beauty that was once there, along with the character and quirkiness. I love this place. Even though I now live in the futuristic area of Canary Wharf in the capital of Britain. I come home, when I want and when I can, mostly when I need. This weekend i have been here for a mere 24 hours, but before I head off I walk around the whole property (which has recently been nicknamed ‘The Ranch’ after a friend had no idea what the property contained). I walk out the back door, over the gravel courtyard to where my Wendy House once was it is now a chicken hut with a duck and peacock house opposite situated in a paddock and apple orchard, and a rose arbor running between the two. I watch my Jack Russell dog run under the gates and fences and through the long grass and into the horse yard. As I watch him I see him weave through the horses legs and notice the two tabby cats sitting on the wooden fences that divide horse from horse from horse. I am standing looking out on a field covered in daisies and buttercups closed in by small forests of trees and rabbits houses. Who could feel sad? This is where I grew up. I turn and look at the secret passages and bushes that hid all of my childhood games and secrets. The tree where my wooden swing would hang from, the garden that held so many birthdays and barbeques. This select part of nature is my dogs first and only home, and you can very clearly see that in his freedom, running and roaming every inch. I can tell you where my first rabbit was buried, and her babies too. Where I was taught to ride a bike by my grandfather, father and brother. Where I got stung by bees. Where I ran away to when I hated my mother, or siblings. I know this place, I know what it has to offer – especially forgetting the buildings situated on and around. Edit upon edits have been made since we first got here 17 years ago, some I hated, some were genius… I now know how a swimming pool is made (even if it has green tiles!). I don’t need to look at the pictures around the house to remember coming home from school in my striped summer uniform to find my mum in cut off jean shorts, wellies and a sequined vest hidden in the vegetable garden planting pumpkins, lavender, ginger and horseradishes.
As I make full circle of ‘The Ranch’ I come to think… “Maybe I should tell Dad when he is sad, anxious or worried – to take a deep breath and walk very slowly around the whole of the property taking in every sight”. It doesn’t matter that it’s a sunny day with a cold breeze, this place looks amazing in the snow, covered in rain and dried out from the never-present sun.
Thinking back, I have walked out of that back door and seen a deer in the orchard, a baby foul appear over night in the paddock, 6 puppy Jack Russell’s fall over in the snow and cuddled my family in the sun.
My childhood wasn’t perfect, the relationships within my family are from from it too – and sitting here now I have very much been taught that money doesn’t buy you happiness. But if anyone ever asks, I grew up surrounded by nature and fresh air…