The move from No 1 has to qualify as our most bizarre. The house next door, that is to say the other one of a pair of semi detached cottages, came up for rent. It had a lot going for it – the unattaced end of our cottage faced north, was overshadowed by the old forge, now the village shop, and was damp and dank – whereas the end of No 2 was south facing, and had a large lawn, and an apple tree. It was in better repair, had central heating instead of an old coal fire, and was generally a nicer house. It only had two bedrooms, but that was because it had a lovely upstairs bathroom! Not the one in the back yard.
So we moved next door. Most of the houses in our village are owned by The Crown Estate, so we didn't change landlords, we just moved!
I might add that when we came to move out, we found that the loft hatch in No 2 was considerably smaller than the loft hatch in No 1, and since we had just shoved our stuff across the loft, we were unable to extract it! We had to call on our neighbours, who thankfully were friendly, to get it out through their house!
While there, H started school, Boo started preschool, I registered as a childminder, I had some minor social life, and Neil ran a rather successful garden contracting business. We rented a field for the sheep and Buttons, and acquire Maggie, a miniature shetland, for Boo. I taught part time for some of the time, at a local Riding School. We were reasonably normal.
But H hated school. She was bullied, she was not well taught, she started to react very badly to all manner of foods, and life situations. Poor little H, so full of quirks and character, was having all the edges knocked off. And it wasn't working for her.
We prayed about how on earth we might manage to homeschool her? Where would we get books, for example? Days later, the school, having fundraised and fleeced parents for months to obtain new books for its new library, emptied the contents of its old library into three wheelie bins. Not to Oxfam, not to the Third World, not even to the village jumble sale. Into the trash can.
With permission, a shocked friend and I emptied the bins, and we had a school library. That's called a direct answer to prayer!
So at around the time that I made a final comittment as a christian, I also made the commitment to homeschool. And at first, it was sheer joy. We 'did' Beatrix Potter, we drew rabbits, we read and wrote and learned about Herdwick sheep and the National Trust and the Lake District.
And eventually, Neil took on a full time job as a head gardener, and it seemed we were set.
After two years, yet another cottage became free. This was on a friend's (still Crown Estate) farm, and was out of the village. I'd coveted it when my niece lived there, it had more space, a Rayburn stove, and was much, much cuter. It was further from the field but it was also away from the village school.
When we first moved to the village, the school had been a major attraction, it was small, cute and all Miss Read. I had been moved around a lot as a child, and wanted my children to stay put in one school, with one set of friends, for their entire childhood. However, H's experience in the school, which doubled in size, and built all over it's idyllic tree shade playing field in the year she began, was totally awful. And now, living right opposite it, but having deserted and maligned it, we often felt a bit threatened. So for the fifth time, in H's seven years, we moved. We moved to West End, and the hardest bit of the journey so far.
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