New Year, New House, New Thinking

Exactly ten years ago on New Year’s Eve my sister arranged VIP tickets for us at a club. We were set up with Champagne, space, a free bar and all the necessary celebratory décor. We were having a fabulous time and it was approaching midnight when a conversation struck up that maybe we should be on the dancefloor at midnight, instead of where we were away from the main ‘buzz’. We debated for so long that when midnight struck, we were all half way up a packed staircase with a load of people queueing for the loo and not even close enough to each other to hug out the chimes. I remember at the time being disappointed that the big midnight moment had not gone to plan.

These days I am far more used to the tightrope of expectation vs reality and so it was with more amusement than disappointment that as 2018 arrived I found myself not sipping Pol Roger as planned, but instead lying next to my 3 year old on the spare bed in my parents house while she rode out a spectacular night terror. Across the landing my husband was de-rigging the feed pump which had chosen 11.58pm to finish, beep loudly and unsettle Mojo’s sleep. We met on the stairs at 12.05 and it reminded me of that New Year’s Eve ten years earlier, except that these days things not going to plan is just so much a part of who we are as a family that it almost feels comforting when it happens.

Even in the full knowledge that when plans are made they rarely get to fruition the past few months of our lives have been very much planning based. With our house on the market and a big move back up North planned I have been consumed by thoughts of countryside vs market towns, bungalows vs lifts, expensive move-in-ables vs cheaper do-up-ers. All of that before we get to the realm of hospitals, schools, support services and work. There have been days when I felt like I could easily drown in the sheer volume of decision making.

The problem is that I am completely at ease with problem solving, I can work my way out of a crisis, I can fight fires but this whole process feels a bit like starting a fire of my own making then trying to re-build from the ashes. Blindfolded. A tad dramatic maybe but that’s the metaphor I’m going with.

Ultimately I know that moving up north is the best thing for us as a family. We can no longer safely live in our existing home, we cannot afford a bigger home in London so moving nearer family and where house prices are much more normal makes logical sense.

When it comes to making all the important decisions though the problem of expectation vs reality crops up again.

When I imagined moving out of London I thought it would be to country cottage in a picturesque village. Then we started to look at houses which fitted that brief. So it began, ‘Wow, look at the pretty low beamed ceilings’. Pause. ‘How the hell would we get a hoist in?’ Small doorways that you wouldn’t get a wheelchair through easily. Steps, dear god all the random steps. Steps between rooms, steps IN rooms, steps veering off in three different directions at the top of a narrow staircase! It soon became very apparent that when it comes to dream homes our dream might not look exactly as we had expected it to.

I scoured the interiors magazines for inspiration and do you know how many adapted homes I found amongst their glossy pages? None, not one. Turns out ramps, lifts, wide doorways and intelligent space design are not aspirational enough to feature.

We reluctantly had a conversation with a salesman at a new build show home, we explained our requirements and he said, ‘oh you’re lucky because all new homes have to be built to comply with accessibility laws these days’. Lucky us. We looked around the show home with its narrow bathrooms, impossible hallway turning space and lucky really wasn’t the word that sprang to mind.

Then we fell a bit in love with a Grade II listed house. Ridiculous, right? It was Georgian so big rooms, wide doorways no superfluous steps anywhere and I started investigating the implications of living in a Grade II listed building that we would need to make accessible. The more I read the more anxious it made me. A panel of people in a council building would have control over what we could and couldn’t do to the house. Hmm that sounds familiar. Perhaps if the listing panel and the home social services panel and the EHCP panel were in the same building they could all get together and tell me exactly what to do with my life. Facetious maybe but the idea of inviting more people to have an opinion on what happens in my home and what Mojo does and doesn’t need was not in the least appealing. Thankfully fate stepped in and the house sold before we had to really make a decision and I confess to breathing a sigh of relief.

So that leaves us here, awaiting the sale of our much loved, completely unfit for purpose, London home and awaiting the arrival to the market of our new and revised dream home.

Meanwhile life goes on and there are winter viral infections to be battled, bilateral femoral osteotomies to dread, new communication devices to learn and regular family time to embrace.

Dry January? lol.




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