For years, Phil and I have talked about moving to the hills. Whenever we sit down with a glass of (non-alcoholic) red wine, and daydream about our future, it involves mountain views and wild footpaths and open landscapes that stretch for miles. We holiday in the hills, we always choose the scenic route through the hills, and Phil regularly ventures north to hike and run and camp in the hills. It feels like our home. Where we’re meant to be.
And yet, for years, we’ve stayed put; in the beautiful and peaceful -but largely flat- Northamptonshire farming countryside. Moving away from the doctors that have miraculously kept me alive, always felt too scary and risky. We didn’t want to be too far from the loved little ones in our life. Packing up and setting up home with limited energy and strength, seemed too difficult and exhausting. And it felt intimidating and daunting to contemplate starting again; making new friends and a new life, at the age of 41 and with a chronic illness. So it has always remained our pipe dream. Our red wine dream. Until now.
The last two years of turmoil and change and reassessed priorities have finally swung the scales in favour of a move. The pandemic highlighted the importance of loving where you live, and living where you love. Reaching the 40 milestone encouraged me to start reflecting on my present, and what I want my future to look like. A surprising upturn in my health, means I’m able to do more daily. Zoom and Whatsapp have shown you can stay in contact, even when you’re far away. And Phil has a new job up north, with greater flexibility to work from home. The worries and reasons against are still there, and still feed the butterflies in my stomach… but if we keep waiting for that elusive ‘better time’, we may never do it. Already five years past my expected expiration date, I don’t have the luxury of time. I don’t have a lifetime to fulfil my dreams. So I need to live today, incase tomorrow never comes.
The want of a new adventure now feels greater than the fear of it.
Very quickly we realised that the current house market is crazy. Quick. Competitive. More buyers than houses. Sellers would only let us view homes if we’d already sold ours. Cash buyers ruled, and chains were undesirable. Mortgages and accounts had to be ready before offers were accepted. And with houses regularly taken off the market after just one viewing, we needed to be first through the front door (tricky when you live hours away from where you’re hoping to buy!). It was unlike any of the house searches of our past.
Our lovely home sold in three days. 🙂 Feeling the pressure to find our pad, all free time was now devoted to searching for the one. Every weekend in January, and a week in February, were spent viewing houses, checking out areas and doing drive-bys. Hours of up and down the motorway. We discussed and debated and went round in circles, trying to decide the best location for the next phase of our life, as well as what we wanted in a home. A bigger garden, and the potential for a downstairs bedroom (future proofing) were my main criteria. Whereas Phil was trying to balance his commute time with his want for mountain views. We fell in love with one- but so did ten other buyers. And with many more, we were piped to the post before we’d even viewed them. The search was exhausting. At its peak, I was looking on Rightmove every hour; pouncing on new listings with a racing heart. Stress and adrenaline and stress and adrenaline. But it was also fun. Browsing houses for sale was like being offered a million possibilities of a new life. City or country, bungalow or townhouse, neighbours or sheep. We’d devour google maps and streetview, and even local Facebook groups, to see if we could be happy there.
The pandemic added another strange layer to the house moving experience. After nearly two years of shielding, of not going into people’s homes, of no one stepping through our front door, willingly doing the opposite, felt odd. Scary, daring, rebellious, risky… maybe even a little exhilarating. 😉 Our favourite estate agent reassured me with his covid caution; all viewers had to wear masks and avoid touching surfaces, opened doors created ventilation, and hotspots were cleaned afterwards. But it still felt strange to know our fortress had been compromised. And stranger still to walk through so many front doors, and go inside local shops and cafes. New to everywhere, and keen to experience places before committing to our new life; we explored. But after twenty-two months of extreme caution, it wasn’t easy to have lunch inside or chat to a shop keeper or be shown around a house by a mask-less estate agent. I had to placate the internal panicky voices with hand sanitizer and open windows. And thankfully the LFT’s continued to show just one line.
But it finally paid off. Two weeks ago -three months after we made the decision to move north- we found the one. Luck was on our side. The house went on to the market on the Friday afternoon, we were first to view it the next day, and our offer was accepted immediately afterwards. All sorted in less than twenty-four hours! 🙂
So hopefully we will be moving to the Peak District this year. The hills will -at last- be our home. The red wine dream will become our reality. But there’s a steep mountain path with fallen trees and legal paperwork to navigate first, before we can collect our new keys. And before we can crack open the (non-alcoholic) champagne and toast our new hilly view. 🙂