Regular visitors to this blog may have noticed the absence of new posts recently. This reflects a time of upheaval in my life, both professionally and personally. I have left the security of a permanent day-job for the challenges of working freelance (need a facilitator/writer/researcher? You know where to come!). But also, after 25 years together, my partner and I have separated. As we live in a tied house which comes with his work, I have had to look for somewhere to live, as well as rising to the challenge of setting up home by myself for the first time in a quarter of a century!
Well – the cat and I have found a delightful character cottage to rent in a small town in Somerset, near to the M5 and mainline railway whilst not far away from the friends and contacts I have made since we moved here from Wales in 2012, and at the heart of a thriving community with shops and services. I wanted to find somewhere that would be a real home (rather than just somewhere to live) as I embark on this new life, so I was delighted to find somewhere which was not a soul-less new-build on an anonymous estate.
The cottage comes with a nearby garden, complete with potting shed, and there are already two big vegetable beds and scope to grow-my-own on a significant scale. There is a wood-burning stove to supplement the gas central heating. And a lock-up garage/wood store across the road. I appear to be all set up for The Good Life…
We live in a large house, and so I haven’t needed to get much in the way of furniture as there is enough to share. However, living in big houses for the last several years has inevitably resulted in Too Much Stuff, and this has been a wonderful opportunity to galvanise me into action – the biggest decluttering exercise of my life is underway! Ebay, Gumtree, charity shops and the dump have all been involved in my campaign to reduce my Stuff by at least 30%, and preferably 50%. Fortunately, the timing coincided with the Christmas and New Year break, which has given me time and space to do at least a couple of hours’ decluttering every day, and make significant inroads into my Stuff.
I have before me, therefore, a challenge and an opportunity. I may not have actively chosen this whole ‘life begins at 45’ experience, but I am determined to embrace what it offers me, and the first thing it offers is choices. What do I want in my new home? How do I want to live my daily life? I am being offered the chance to live much more simply, which (as readers of this blog will know) is something which has been exercising me for some time. This is my chance to make a fresh start in the way I live. I have often said that I aspire to William Morris’ maxim to ‘have nothing in your houses which you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’, and now I have the opportunity to put it into practice.
The white goods do need to be bought new because I really need them to be under warranty. The other bits and pieces I am consciously buying mostly vintage or second-hand. I acquired a handsome day-bed on Gumtree, and a leather armchair on eBay. My bedroom curtains are being re-purposed from a pair of 1950s Welsh wool blankets. I am now the proud owner of a very beautiful Deco chest of drawers, which I expect will outlive me. And I am being very disciplined about how much furniture, and how much Stuff, will fit into a small cottage and still allow me enough space and order to actually live in it. And work in it – the second bedroom (with stunning views!) will be my studio and office.
So – over the next few months, I hope this blog will chronicle my first steps in my new life, and I hope you will accompany me as I make choices, face challenges, and work out how to live simply in my new home.