Wednesday 29 January 2014


"the house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace." Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space.

We left Oxford on a cloudy Saturday morning, all a bit hyper at the prospect of moving somewhere new. As  we drove west  it began to drizzle. By the time we reached Somerset it was raining, when we reached Devon it was torrential with rivers of red mud running down the lanes. 

Mid afternoon, we stopped for lunch at the haunted Fisherman's Cot in Bickleigh, Tiverton. Running inside to escape the downpour, we stopped, awestruck by the sight of the wild waters rushing under the medieval bridge through the wall of windows. It was something else. We could understood why Paul Simon was inspired to write Bridge Over Troubled Water when he stayed there in the 60's...Or so it's rumoured...

After the best beer battered fish and chips, all crunchy and light, we left the fireside and ventured out into the wind and rain again; anxious to try and get to the village before dark. 

Lots more driving. More rain and mud.Then suddenly a break in the clouds and a row of trees arching overhead, as if they were beckoning us on. The scenery changed, the rain slowed down and the road narrowed to a tiny muddy track with only room for one car at a time. Then we saw the sign, "SHEEPWASH." 

When we stepped out of the car in the village square the rain had stopped. It was still cloudy but  everything was calm. Just like in films. It doesn't usually happen like that in real life and it felt like a sign. A good omen. 

The village was light and happy looking for a January teatime. Prettier than we anticipated, but not too twee. The houses were all nicely painted and it was bright, and cosy. Peeping into lit windows, we glimpsed families sitting by the fireside, or  pottering about doing tea time chores. We found the village shop, and Sheepwash 'book exchange' in an old red telephone box, and thought how safe it must be if all those books were left there without being damaged. A farmer drove by on his tractor, waved and shouted a greeting. It was perfect...

...and the lovely two hundred year old houses? Perfect too. They ticked all the boxes. Those on the list of 'things we need.' Thing like, feeling safe, being light, having at least two bedrooms and a place to work. But they also ticked all the boxes on the 'things we would like' list, like open fireplaces and lots of space.   

Even the 'dream list' of things that we thought we could never afford on our budget. The extra bedrooms and bathrooms for friends and family to stay, the range cooker and belfast sink.  The inglenook fireplace with bread oven and wood burning stove. Outside space for keeping bees, and the work shop. 

And only one hours drive, from the cutest fishing village of Ifracombe. I imagined summer holidays with friends staying, the walks in the countryside, picnics, and trips to the beach that we could have.The Devon cream teas in little teashops...and I could go on...We couldn't have asked for more. 

'A' was very excited, he loved it. Even though he'd initially rejected both houses online, as being too close to other homes. He says he wants a lone house on a hill. 

But H, was very subdued. I'd noticed so whilst eating lunch in Bickleigh, but put it down to her being tired after a very late night and an early start. 

She drew our attention to the hand written note on the book exchange door  and others on the village notice board, next to the ones for the yoga class and the writing group. One about wind turbines and how the village wouldn't want any of them spoiling their pretty valley. 

She had sensed a little, "not in my back-yard" mentality, that she knew may concern us. She knows how much we believe in not being exclusive, but including everyone and embracing things which benefit the community. Not just on a village scale but the whole world village, the global one. It made us think. 

H was quiet for the long drive home. Especially when we drove past the city where her boyfriend's studying. Where she plans to join him later in the year. It was a four hundred mile round trip...(We'd taken the scenic route.) It took us a long time. H mentioned that it would be a long way for us to visit the rest of the family in London and further East...

She was quiet the next day too, as she packed to go back to London for university. It seemed as if she didn't want to leave. I wondered if it was something to do with us giving up the home that she'd known since she was four years old. I asked. She hadn't realised until I broached the subject, but admitted that it was a long way to Devon and she wanted to be able to pop home for sunday lunch.  

What more could a mum and dad ask for? We don't care about an ingle nook fireplace or an aga cooker. Those are just the compensation for your family growing up and moving away. Isn't it better that your kids want you to be near enough when they start their life in a new city to pop around for Sunday lunch, or just a chat...maybe a bus or train ride away, but not too far. 

...So the search is still on and there are lots more houses out there for us to look at, but maybe the radius will be a little narrower. Closer to the city where someone plans to start their next adventure...So our adventure continues too...


  1. oh we are just in the same boat, circling our destiny while waiting out our children's destinies. At least you had a good lunch out and an adventure. I know if you are meant to move the right house will show up. With our daughter graduating and starting a job (we don't know where) and our son graduating and starting a Phd program (we don't know where). We stay put for now. Moving isn't the right time.

    I love that H could express herself and isn't it nice to know that she loves coming home and seeing you? That is a very close relationship that is a treasure.

    Have fun with the continued looking about :) I kind of liked the name Sheepwash though :)

    1. Thank you Karen. I'm sure that we'll find somewhere that's right for us, we'll just take time until we find it and have fun on the way. As the weather gets better it will be easier to view more places.
      I know I loved that Hannah want's us to be close. It means so much to us.
      Lunch was yummy and we had a really fun day out together. I know I had a soft spot for the name...I had visions of getting local wool and learning to spin and dye it...

  2. Oh decisions decisions. Shame the drive wasn't in nicer weather. All my children live close by even one living next door! And yes its the family we need to live near, not necessarily perfect locations. But Sheepwash did have a certain romance about it.

    1. How lucky to have one next door. We used to live a couple of houses away from my grandparents growing up and were always in their home. It was lovely. Hopefully we'll find somewhere nice.

  3. I'm sorry Sheepwash didn't work out for you...oh, I would have had a hard time driving away from such a sweet little village. Your pictures and description of it are idyllic! My dream is to live on a farm in a quaint old village in England...but for now New England will have to do.
    Staying close to our family, though, is most important. I hope you find your dream home soon that works for everyone.

    1. Thank you Emily. New England sounds perfect to me. I think it may be down to reading Little Women so many times as a child. I'm sure both are lovely in their own way. We have time to look thank you, and the spring to explore lots of different possibilities. So the adventure continues. I'm so excited.

  4. ohh Sheepwash looked very nice, but the important thing is that all family is happy with the place and the house.
    I liked your adventure ... I wish that you find excellent place soon.

    1. Thank you Montse. It was lovely Montse. But I agree Hannah is so important to us and we all love spending time together. We'll just keep looking.

  5. I was born and grew up in Sheepwash. It is truly a place where you soul can rest.

    The massive wind turbines proposed for the area would tower 200 -300 feet above the ground and could destroy the beauty and peace of the valley.

    The village today needs residents who will be part of the local community. That means that the use the village shop, visit the village pub and attend church, as when those institutions are lost they can never be recovered.