You’ve probably given up on me. I have been silent. But life has not been silent or tranquil. We’ve been in England a month now, and since then, we’ve found somewhere to live, moved in and started, but not finished, unpacking. We’ve started to explore our new neighbourhood, and begun, tentatively, to put down roots.
All of which has been complicated by our being somewhat incommunicado. We had, until today, no land-line or internet connection. Our (shortly to be ex-) mobile provider offers no connectivity whatsoever for several miles in every direction, so the whole business of communicating with the outside world has been put somewhat on hold, at a time when whole swathes of people and organisations require to hear from us, or to contact us.
From today, however, we’ve rejoined the 21st century, as BT came to install a phone line, bringing with it access to the internet and TV. So here’s an update.
We arrived in England with a ‘must-have’ list when it came to house-hunting.
- to be in Ripon itself, within walking distance of its shops, library, cinema and so on.
- to have a house with a small garden or courtyard: apart from anything else, how else do you hang the washing out?
- to have a garage. Not necessarily for the car, but to accommodate the mountains of ‘stuff’ we still seem to have despite our efforts to downsize.
On the first Monday back we found:
- a flat at the edge of a village without a shop, about four miles from Ripon
- with no personal outside space
- and no garage.
It was perfect. We signed immediately.
You see, this was no ordinary flat. It’s the oldest part, tucked at the back, of a largely Georgian country house, set in gardens and grounds which include formal lawns and borders, a secluded walled garden, woodland and grassland.
In fact, it’s not even a flat. Downstairs, beyond the entrance hall, is an enormous room which we plan to make into our library and study, and which currently is our warehouse. Upstairs is generously proportioned living space. Every window offers views of those gardens, and the fields and countryside beyond.
Our landlords are the charming and generous owners of the Georgian house, and other members of the family live in nearby buildings converted for their use. They insist that they want us to enjoy the gardens which give them so much pleasure – and hard work. They even provide us with extra storage in part of a stable. We’ve spent the little ‘down-time’ we’ve had exploring the gardens, the adjoining country walks, and getting to know a little about the village: more later about all of this.
We’ve decided that being four miles from Ripon, and just a little further from Masham is a very small price to pay for living in such utterly idyllic surroundings, with delightful landlords and neighbours. Here’s just a taste of our new surroundings: we shan’t invite you inside just yet – we’re still unpacking.