No longer stuck in the over-crowded, over-priced, overly-competitive middle class slum that is southwest London, Pirate and I are back in the west country. Woot!
We lived in a neighborhood that was so sought-after, small 3-bed victorian semis with a meagre rear garden and none in front and no garage or off-street parking regularly sold for £750k. And this in a neighborhood where you couldn't get your kid into anything anyway becasuse the waiting lists for nurseries, swim lessons, and everything else was 18-24 months long. AND the traffic sucked. AND the trains sucked.
Before, I had to listen to the 11-year-old kid in the house behind us play with his drum kit. (His parents had the sense to put the drums in the garden shed, rather than in the house, so it was quieter for them but noisier for all the neighbors. Clever people!) Now, I have owls.
Before, I had a tiny back garden with no grass, no light, and a short gate that the Pirette could open, so it wasn't at all secure. Also, becasue our living room and kitchen were on the first floor, I couldn't see into the back garden while inside the house. So I couldn't let her play there.
Now, I have an enormous garden carpeted with grass, leading back to a woodland of 60-ft-plus mature hardwood trees. The garden is secure, we are not overlooked, and the view is stunning. And there are owls.
Before, I had a galley kitchen that was so small you had to step outside to change your mind.
Now, I have a nice big kitchen (still too small for a breakfast table, but that's good, becasue I don't want all my dreams to come true at once) with a view into aforementioned enormous garden, twice the cupboard space and thrice the worktop space as before, AND a utility room for the pantry, cleaning crap, and appliances. Haaaaa-lleluja!
Before, the only wildlife we got were pigeons, foxes, magpies, and feral parakeets. Now we've wildlife coming out our asses. And owls. Did I mention the owls?
Previously, no one would make eye contact or smile as we walked down the street. Fucking urban anonymity. And it took more than a year to meet our neighbors. Now? We walk down the street and complete strangers smile, say hello, strike up a conversation, introduce themselves, talk about their kids, and invite us to birthday parties. (This actually happened, 4 days after we moved in.)
I took the Pirette today for an explore through the woods (she LOVES that), and we saw (get ready for this)... pinecones! and conkers! and acorns! and mushrooms! And all sorts of amazing things she'd never seen before, because she was being brought up in a concrete jungle. And she doesn't even miss the playgrounds. She's just as happy climbing logs and tree stumps. Finally I can give the kid a real childhood.
And all this (plus a microscopic fourth bedroom) in a house worth less than half of what the previous one was worth on the open market. Madness. I maintain, there isn't a single thing you can get in London that you can't get elsewhere for half the money (or less), and servede with a smile. Why anyone would actually want to live in London is genuinely beyond me.
Now if only the west country could do something about the vericose veins in my beef curtains and get the Pirate home from his oversees assignment, life would be near perfect. (Minus the breakfast table, of course.)