CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Cotswold Life today CLICK HERE

Clare Mackintosh: Just hoping for a home

PUBLISHED: 11:49 27 February 2017 | UPDATED: 11:49 27 February 2017

Photo credit: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

Photo credit: Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

Archant

Gazumping sounds like something Winnie-the-Pooh might do in the woods, but there’s nothing fun about it

Remember the house I fell in love with? The beautiful rectory with the waterfall in the garden, and the holiday cottage business at the end of the garden? The reason we upped sticks and left the Cotswolds? The house of my dreams? We lost it.

It was always a gamble; we did everything in the wrong order, and perhaps it was inevitable that it wasn’t to be. Such pragmatism didn’t stop it hurting. Like a dumped teenager I consoled myself with a litany of hither¬to ignored faults; flipping the convenience of the house’s proximity to town into the undoubted irritation of the constant road noise. Even a waterfall wouldn’t have drowned that out, I told myself.

We rallied the children and reloaded Rightmove. Could hardly believe our luck when we found another house – just as beautiful, just as grand – barely a hundred yards from the first. Set further back from the road (so much quieter, we said smugly to each other) and with stunning views over the lake. This was the one. This was it. Our Forever House.

For weeks we held our breath, as we inched ever closer towards taking possession. As each milestone passed – survey completed, mortgage approved, contracts signed… – it began to feel real. We mentally furnished each room; made plans for the garden. We fell in love all over again. But love hurts, particularly when you’re half-way up the aisle when your groom does a runner with another woman. Or in our case, with another set of buyers.

Gazumping. It sounds so harmless, doesn’t it? Fun, almost. Like something Winnie-the-Pooh might do in the woods, with Piglet and a stout pair of wellies. Yet, as anyone who has been on the wrong end of a Gazumper will testify, there’s nothing fun about it. There were tears (from me and the children). There were empty threats (from my husband). There was much despair (from us all) as a renewed house search proved fruitless. Not just no dream houses, but no houses at all. Nothing big enough; nothing in the right place. Jilted and abandoned. On the shelf without an eligible bachelor in sight. “We should just go back to the Cotswolds,” I muttered, putting words to the thought we were both avoiding. But just as soon as I said it, I knew we wouldn’t be going anywhere.

We came to Bala because we fell in love with a house; we’re staying because we’ve fallen in love with Bala. With the glassy lake and its protective circle of mountains; with the Welsh slate roofs and the grassy fields, filled with sheep. With the unpronounceable syllables of a language we’re trying our best to learn. With the people. It is a testament to the community here, that after everything we’ve been through, we still feel so welcome. That despite all our belongings being in storage, and without a place to call a home, we still feel lucky to be here.

We would have to wait, we decided. Rent somewhere more permanent, perhaps. Something would come up. I said as much to the hairdresser, as she snipped at my fringe; more stoical than I felt inside. We spoke of gazumping; of unscrupulous estate agents and greedy vendors. I felt better for the gossip, walking home with a spring in my step and the wind in my newly shorn hair. It would all be okay. The next day: a knock at the door. Were we the English family looking for a house? Would we like to see theirs? Not on the market, but ready to sell.

We were wary: hearts bruised from recent relationships; not ready to jump into another one so quickly. And yet… I felt my heart quicken as we stood at the front door; caught a glimpse of tiles and a curved staircase behind. I stifled a cry of delight at the high ceilings, the fireplaces, the Aga. Perfection. I stole a glance at the others, to see if they felt it too, and was rewarded with the tiniest of nods from my ever-reserved husband. The children were less guarded, their mouths open in delight at the attic bedrooms, the tyre swing, the garages ripe for bikes and scooters. “Do you like it, Mummy?” Josh whispered on the stairs; at ten, already sufficiently savvy not to seek my views in front of the owner. “I love it,” I told him. And I do. More than the first house. More than the second. It is warm and happy and filled with love and light, and I want more than anything to make it my home.

And so we begin again, with the anxious wait that conveyancing brings, hoping that this time will be the last time. Hoping for a home.

I See You, published by Sphere is out now in paperback. For more information or more from Clare Mackintosh, visit her website or follow her on Twitter! @claremackint0sh

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Cotswold Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Cotswold Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Cotswold Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & about

As well as three days of action-packed racing and tradition, there’s plenty to do away from the course at this year’s November Meeting. Neil Phillips, The Wine Tipster, shares his 14 suggestions on how to make the most of your time at Cheltenham Racecourse

Read more

The Warwickshire town of Alcester is considered one of the best understood Roman settlements in the country. Tracy Spiers digs below the surface to discover its hidden jewels

Read more

Thanks to the impact of ground-breaking comedy This Country, the quiet market town of Northleach has become one of the Cotswolds’ hottest film locations. Katie Jarvis is sent to investigate

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Stephen Roberts walks in the footsteps of the Oxford scholar who enjoyed attending parties dressed as a polar bear, and once chased a neighbour while dressed as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

I send this postcard from Cirencester, complete with the discoveries and viewpoints from four members of my family – both the young and not so young

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

If you’re looking for things to do in the Cotswolds this month, we have gathered plenty of events for you to pop in your diary

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

One hundred years ago this month the guns fell silent, marking the end of what was to become known as The Great War. Stephen Roberts remembers the impact the war had on Cotswold lives from 1914-1918

Read more
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Being a region so steeped in history, there are plenty of locations in the Cotswolds with spooky stories from over the years. From bloody executions, eerie apparitions and headless horsemen, we pick 23 of the most haunted locations throughout the Cotswolds to visit if you dare

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

New bat cams installed at Woodchester Mansion help study protected breeds while also becoming an added attraction for visitors. Jo Barber looks at the work of one of the UK’s foremost bat experts and the mansion’s valued volunteers

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From an all-boy, all boarding prep school for just 30 pupils, to the quietly trailblazing yet still traditional school it is today – here is a snapshot of Beaudesert over its 110-year history

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Of all the castles in the region, none have seen as much war, romance and royalty as Sudeley over its dramatic 1,000-year history. And with such a colourful and eventful past, it is easy to see why some people believe there could be spirits from bygone eras which still wander the halls and corridors to this day

Read more
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Following a record year for ‘visitor giving’ donations via local businesses, applications are invited to fund conservation projects

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

What started as a business ploy by one Cotswold firm has developed into an inspirational garden

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

If a bit of English eccentricity is your thing, spend an enjoyable afternoon exploring the delightful follies of Faringdon

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory A+ Education

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search