Giving up on the dream house


For as long as I can remember I've dreamt of living in the countryside, in an old farmhouse or cosy cottage, with land enough for chickens, ducks and maybe some goat. A vegetable patch at the bottom of the garden and a country pub just a short walk away. Basically I want to live in Kate Winslet's house in The Holiday.

I grew up in rural South Wales. We lived in an old farmhouse with an acre of land, stables (that Mum stored coal in), an old chicken coop that me and my sister used as a Wendy House and a big Aga in the kitchen. In my nostalgic memory it was idyllic and we had the perfect childhood. It's easy to forget that Mum used to shovel coal into the house everyday to keep it warm. That, as we grew up and wanted to participate in activities like Brownies and swimming club, Mum had to make the 15 mile round trip into town in a crappy old Fiat Panda. And when it snowed, or we had a heavy frost, the driveway up the hill to the main road was impassible. I had a mile walk to catch the school bus in the mornings and the reality is, my Mum must have been awfully lonely once it was just me, her and my sister. Still, this is the life I longed for. The life I longed for my future children to have. The alerts I'd set up on RightMove, along with an unrealistic budget, flooded into my inbox, but it soon became clear that this wasn't a lifestyle we could afford. Turns out, Norfolk is a lot more expensive than South West Wales.

I blame my unrealistic expectations on a mix of childhood nostalgia and Instagram. Some of my favourite accounts to follow are those of women who live in the dream idyllic country cottages. They have chickens and ducks and live the simple life I think I long for. They have Agas, log fires and exposed beams. I have to remind myself that I don't know the circumstances behind their way of life and I generally only see the good bits. I don't get to see their salary slips, they're mortgage balances, their clapped out Fiat Pandas. All I know is, I was longing for a life that we simply cannot afford. And perhaps, when I consider the realities this lifestyle would throw at us, one I wouldn't have enjoyed quite as much as I think I would.

All this to say, our new house was built in the 70s. We now live closer to Norwich, on a fairly busy main road, and it needs completely modernising. There's no room for chickens and it has no chimney, so a woodburner is looking unlikely. It does however have a floral toilet, which if we decide not to keep, I've got a whole host of interested folk on Instagram eyeing it up. But the house was within our price range and essentially a blank canvas that, over time, we can make completely us. The garden is bigger, has a pond, and I may not have room for a vegetable patch but across the road from us are allotments. We're within walking distance of one of Norwich's beautiful parks. I can still pop into the city on a Saturday morning for breakfast with my friends. The house is big enough for us to grow into and I don't feel I had to make any sacrifices in life to make the move work. I've also come around to the thinking that our children won't be left wanting simply because they don't live in the middle of nowhere.

I'm slowly encouraging birds back into the garden, I'm not sure the old folks that lived here fed them. I'm making plans for the flower beds and need to get myself on the allotment waiting list. The little study room is getting a makeover first, as the very old carpet stank of cat piss. And eventually we'll knock the wall down between the kitchen and the dining room to make it into one big kitchen diner. Something that was top of my 'what do we want from our new house?' list. I plan to share progress here on the blog. I'm actually really excited to start blogging again properly. If you would like to see the full house tour it's over in my Instagram story highlights.

And talking of Instagram, I still follow all the country cottage accounts that I love, but I'm also in the market for modern home renovation accounts and have found a couple that I really enjoy. Are there any that you recommend? Feel free to recommend chicken accounts too, I live vicariously through them.


  1. lovely post and I think we had a similar ish child hood too. I grew up in the countryside (Normandy) with chickens running free, a goat or two etc. well it was like this until I turned about 10 then my parents moved down south of France in a town that I absolutely hate ( may sounds dreamy moving south of france but I actually never really like South of France , I am a North of France girl) too although I am very happy to be a home owner for now 2 years my house and area is not perfect. We moved out of London ( as we could not offer a 3 bedrooms house over there) to a town that is a bit boring and do not have the vibe of London but at least we are in the countryside (literally 5 minutes walked from my house and there is field of cows, horses etc.) , our house is surrounded with many houses and I feel like a fish bowl sometimes (no privacy really especially during summer when we are in our garden) also they all mostly old council houses and the area used to have a bad reputation in the 80's (much better now) but at least we have a house and we are no longer renting in London . My husband and I dream its to move in the middle of nowhere , like you, with no direct neighbours in a cottage/ house with a really big garden and get chickens, ducks, another cat, a dog, veg patch ...the dream. The truth its Cotswold price are well....expensive too and the truth its that we would have to settle for something more in our budget really. Until then I am loving renovation our house even if my neighbour taste of music that he blast during summer drive me absolutely mad along with their late night parties ( they are nice even so they are the nosiest people around) I am happy where we are for now until we sale in 3- 5 years time.

    1. Maybe the dream cottage will happen one day. Perhaps when we're in a position to relocate, but for now I think we're happy. And we're very lucky. To be able to afford our own place on the outskirts of a lovely city. I'll definitely enjoy renovating. Getting into Pinterest again! :)

  2. I'm the same - I had dreams of an Edwardian house with large windows and character and a big, red front door...and my first house? The one I could afford? A semi-detached bungalow. It's totally boring from the outside but...I bought it off a lady with incredible taste and it's like Narnia. I have a woodburner and a garden designed by a Chelsea silver medal winner and it's small and bijou but I've adjusted my expectations and I'm happy. I'm also an hour closer to Norwich now and have just popped into 'town' on a Saturday morning. There are benefits right? *g*

    1. I think that's it. Adjusting expectations. Your garden sounds magical though and I'm still longing for the log burner. I have found some very realistic electric ones though. It's all about compromise :P and remembering how lucky we are :)


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