The Project House

There’s a winding country road that approaches our lovely new town from the south. It snakes upwards for a mile or so, from the next nearest village. Stone walls line the lane, there are glimpses of a quarry in the distance, and craggy edges and green hilltops surround on all sides. It’s beautiful. Classic dark peak countryside. After a few minutes, the road suddenly veers downwards as it reaches the brow of the hill. And that is when you can spot it. Chapel-En-Le-Frith. Our new town appears in the valley below. Houses and churches and shops and people and cars and trees and a train line; surrounded by mounts and pikes. Our home among the hills. That view stole our heart when we first viewed the new house, and stole it again on moving day as we approached with our whole world in vans. Excitement and hope and excitement and hope. Somewhere down below was a front door that matched the keys in our hands. πŸ™‚

It took us a while to find our new home. After weeks of religiously stalking Rightmove, and driving up and down the M6; I was beginning to get frazzled with frustration. We couldn’t find the one. We just wanted more space, a bigger garden, and hills. Yet, surprisingly, nothing we’d seen had ticked all three. There were larger houses with tiny gardens, homes with amazing views but little rooms, and lovely cottages that had all three but were way out of our budget.

But then, on a rainy February morning, we found it. With a south-facing garden, three times the size of our current one, and mainly laid to lawn; it was exactly what I’d been hoping for. I was giddy with excitement as I started planning where my vegetable beds and greenhouse and flowers would go. With bigger rooms, space for visitors, and the potential to make it more accessible for me; it suited us perfectly. Plus on the edge of a bustling town with restaurants and shops, yet minutes from the Peak District countryside; it seemed an ideal location. And then there was the view. We’d be able to gaze at the glorious hilly ridge of Castle Naze from our bedroom and living room and garden. Our own home in the hills.

Except… it needed work. A lot of work. πŸ™‚ Although a family were living in it, it felt like the house hadn’t been loved or cared for or cleaned, in a while. There were threadbare carpets and handle-less doors and muddy paw prints on all the walls. The bath was leaking, the outbuilding was strewn with straw, and some of the sockets didn’t work. Long grass and mares tale and weeds weeds weeds were taking over the overgrown garden. And the kitchen and and fireplace and (non-safety) glass walls were all fifties originals. Plus there was dust and dog hair and grime and grease everywhere. This was a project house. Neglected and unloved and dirty and old-fashioned. We couldn’t move straight in, we couldn’t empty our packing boxes on the first day. It was going to need work and effort and plans and lists and money and time and love and so many hours of DIY, to make it shine again. But oh, how it could shine when finished. It could be our kind of perfect. πŸ™‚

So we put in an offer. With my health steady and strong, and Phil’s DIY skills well practiced in the last house, I was brimming with confidence that we could take on such a challenge. It would make the new northern adventure all the more exciting. The me of the last nine years of illness would have said no, no way, not at all. The dust and the paint and the stress and upheaval would have made me walk away. Decorating and renovating make the symptoms of my Pulmonary Hypertension many times worse, and make the DIY jobs many times more difficult. Actually, the me of the last nine years of illness would not have even agreed to move. But since my body miraculously and wonderfully found a way for me to start walking again last November, my confidence has zoomed skywards. So, roused by the belief that you only regret what you haven’t done, I was all for it. And if it all went pear-shaped, well it “would make a good blog!”. πŸ™‚

So now, six months later, it is time to put that earlier trust and confidence in us to the test. We are in the house, well sort of. Most of our belongings are in storage, and we’re sort-of living out of a couple of rooms whilst we try and make the rest of it more habitable, and then more shiny. It’s exciting, but also blooming scary. As I opened our front door on moving day, I felt overwhelmed. Walking from room-to-room, butterflies squirmed in my stomach. The amount of work was so intimidating. It would scare most, even without PH part of the equation. But, then I went outside. And somewhere between wandering the garden and finding surprise apple trees laden with fruit; sitting on the back step and gazing excitedly at the overlooking ridge; and looking back at our new bricks from the bottom of the garden, I found my courage again. We could do this- well we would certainly try anyway. Even with its grimy walls and ripped carpet, it felt like home. It just needed a lot of love.

And if you ever visit Chapel, come via Doveholes. Then you’ll understand why the next year of hard work will be worth it. πŸ™‚

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