Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Taking stock

The crocus is flowering
I moved to Lincolnshire just over a year ago, in December 2013, having lived all my life on the outskirts of London.  I'd intended to blog my way through the experience, and I did make the odd post here and there, but I think I needed time to assimilate what had happened to me.

Usually when people move, they have some link to the place that they have chosen, whether that is a family link of a link to a new job or just a desire to live there for some reason.  My reasons were entirely practical:  I needed to find a place where I could afford a house, where we were near to transport but had the normal things, shops and doctors in walking distance.  I approached the search like a job, having been let go at the end of a monthly contract I had the time to search while at the same time looking for somewhere to live.

Initially I looked at places closer to London.  My son's girlfriend's father was in hospital in London and likely to stay there and so we needed good transport links to London for her, and of course my family still lives around Uxbridge and Hertfordshire (mostly) and so I wanted to be able to travel back to see them.

I collated the houses in my price range, with the number of bedrooms I needed, with a small garden, close to a station, with shops in walking distance, and haunted Zoopla and Right Move and estate agents' websites.  I compiled secret boards on Pinterest, afraid that if I posted them to my public boards someone would swoop in and gazump me before I'd had a chance to visit and view.

I fell in love with a house in the Lincolnshire fens, which had virtually none of the things I said I was asking for, but which I loved dearly, but head governed heart when a report showed that the walls were gradually parting company with each other and would need a lot of remedial work.  I might have been tempted if it had been close to a station or good coach route, but the half hour bus ride to the nearest town was the clincher.  And so I continued to look.

I must admit that it wasn't love at first sight when I saw this house, but its resemblance to the house I had loved made me want to see it, and once I had walked through the door, and especially once I had seen the garden, I was hooked.

A year on, I have found a few things to dislike.  There seems to be coal ash in the vegetable garden, which is not very healthy, and I must put in raised beds or use pots for growing things, and had to allow my prize marrows and sweetcorn to rot.  The central heating was not very efficient and terribly expensive to run, and I have replaced it with a modern boiler and taken out the ugliest fireplace in the world and replaced it with another radiator.

But in general, I have found a house I can love, and can forgive the damp in the bedrooms and the cracks in the plaster.  I once heard Lucinda Lambton say that she kissed the walls of her house in Berkshire beause she loved it so much.  This is the first time I have felt that way about a house I've lived in.

The countryside around the town is beautiful, I love the wolds and the little villages.  It's a pleasure to drive out and find mysteriously winding roads.  I didn't look at the countryside much when I viewed the house, because we travelled from the A1 and most of the way it is fairly flat and uninteresting, it's only as you pass through Market Rasen that the wolds begin to undulate and the landscape which looks so English and so untouched comes into view.

There's so much more sky, and the weather changes fast.  The air is crystal clear most of the time, although the large number of coal fires around the town make it a bit more dusty in the winter, something that I blamed on my own coal fire until I took it out and found the black dust is still the same.  There is a sharpness to the air which you simply don't get in London, except on rare autumn mornings when the cold of dawn burns off with the sun.  The wind that I was warned about does sweep in off the Lincoln plain, but the weather is often warmer and dryer here than forecast for the rest of the country.

I've started to look in the right place on weather maps - the habit of looking to the west of London is hard to break - and I've started to think of myself as a member of this town.  Everything seemed so familiar the first time I came here.  There are places in South London which seem entirely alien to me, even though I have lived in and around London for so long.  But this place seems like home.

I did what everyone told me to do, and waited to make changes to the house or the garden, to find out what lurks in the garden borders and to work out what I would like to do with the house.  The garden has a lot of bulbs in it, and these are breaking through for the second time since I moved... crocus and snowdrops are flowering already and the first signs of spring propelled me out of the front door to prune the roses before it was too late yesterday.

I've not really embedded into the community yet.  I volunteered for a few weeks at the Air Ambulance shop, but felt I was wasting my time, doing something which many volunteers could do instead of using my talents.  I offered to put things on ebay, or to paint and renovate the things they were throwing away, but they declined, and making the odd dash to London was very inconvenient for everyone, as they couldn't rely on me being there.  So I stopped.  I've volunteered for the business improvement group, (now disbanded) and joined the rail user group.  The people here seem very kind and open.  When we stayed in Tealby shortly before we moved, everyone warned us that shopping would take longer in Market Rasen because everyone is so friendly, and that's true.

So... this is a new start, a new year, spring is starting to shoot, and I will try to blog more regularly than I have.

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