From the age of 19 when I first married and left home I have moved house many times and never really settled. From the rented two-up-two-down terrace with no bathroom and a loo down the bottom of the garden I moved into upon marriage, I eventually bought my first heavily mortgaged house which was “in need of some attention”!
The following years were spent doing up houses, saving and moving up the property ladder until I ended up in a dream large detached, double garaged spotlessly sterile anonymous dwelling. A divorce followed and just like the snakes and ladders game, I downsized to a small terrace cottage. I couldn’t afford to heat the house that winter and had no TV – but have fond memories of my son and I cuddling up under the duvet together reading books. It was a mid-terrace so the heat came through from my neighbours‘ properties.
I met with some career success and again I climbed the ladder. Each step a move towards the dream where one day I would be happy. A relentless striving to reach some sort of winning post. I never found it. Another fall followed and then I changed.
I always said that when I found somewhere I felt content I would name my house “Talbothays”. The name was chosen from one of my favourite Hardy novels, “Tess of the D’Urbevilles”. “Talbothays” is the name of the dairy farm where Tess meets Angel Clare, they fall in love and do their courting in the water meadows adjacent to the River Frome. For me the name evokes feelings of jasper cornflower meadows, the early morning steam rising from damp grass, bleached white smocks and the yellowhammer’s cheese and bread. No doubt a rural ideal that probably only exists on old fashioned chocolate boxes but it gave me a feeling of “home”. Despite her tragic life Tess was happy whilst at Talbothays.
Two evenings ago we had our first proper Spring evening this year. I took a walk around the village where I live and the footpaths nearby. The chalk ridge of an old Iron Age Hill fort dominated the horizon. I passed my favourite secret meditation place. The blackthorn was beginning to blossom. I watched the moon set over our local parish church. I still have a hunger inside me to live in my “spiritual home” in the County of Dorset; I still sometimes get resentful that I do not have the money to live in the beautiful cathedral city of St Albans where I grew up but deep down inside I now live at Talbothays. My striving is over. I am happy living at Talbothays.