Country houses for sale

Rosie and Jim: The bittersweet experience of saying goodbye to your beloved childhood home

You may not have lived there for years, you might not even have liked it at the time — and yet when your parents sell it without even stopping to consider your feelings, you can't help but feel a hole.


The thing no one thought possible has finally happened. I have found somewhere to live. What’s even more surprising is that it’s inside the M25, very habitable and won’t completely bankrupt me.

What is less surprising is that I didn’t find it through a conventional agent (they were too busy renting overpriced flats to everyone on earth apart from me). I  — and by I, I mean my mother — found it on Radio HP. It’s a sort of email noticeboard (dubbed the ‘posh Gumtree‘) that advertises everything from Oxbridge-trained tutors who’d preferably like to school your little darlings aboard a yacht in the Med, to revved-up sausage dogs looking for suitable mates. It is also highly successful.

I’m not the only one on the move; my parents are selling their house, the same house that I grew up in and returned to last year. It’s a bittersweet moment. Bitter because although I haven’t lived at home full-time since I left for university in 2011 (apart from a short spell we won’t talk about) it’s where the majority of my childhood memories originate from; ultimately sweet because my parents are off to find their dream home.

And the cherry on top of this bittersweet biscuit is that offers started rolling in minutes after the house went online. So at least it’s been smooth sailing for some.

This street, where I’m writing this now, is where I learned to ride a bike, sold stale biscuits to the neighbours — one Jaffa Cake cost £5 and proceeds went to a dolphin conservation charity — and reversed my car into my parent’s one soon after passing my driving test. The new owners will likely paint over the bricks closest to the garage that I watched my brother paint in pastel colours using Dulux testers, raided from the shed. And they might even develop the garage itself — once home to a makeshift snail sanctuary atop an old plastic table.

To the left, as soon as you walk in the front door, are the stairs I let the same patchwork painting brother bungee jump down, using a cord I’d fashioned from tightly knotted dressing gown cords. And to the right, the living room that my grandmother — left to occupy us for a weekend — turned into a tented Narnia and coated in glitter.

I doubt I’ll find Narnia in my Radio HP flat, but when my time there is up and I move on (God help us all, hopefully no time soon) I’m sure that I’ll have another treasure trove of bittersweet memories to look back fondly on.

Financial ruin in the name of love is not an uncommon idea. What I find particularly irritating about it, however, is personal financial ruin for the sake of someone else’s love.

That’s right; wedding season is upon me, and neither me, nor my debit card, is prepared.

What has happened over the past 24 months has created what some might call The Perfect Storm. Weddings that were scheduled for 2020 (or 2021) were postponed, and those darlings who got engaged during the first lockdown out of sheer love/boredom (delete as appropriate) have converged on this upcoming summer, creating a perfect super-cell of love and warm feelings that is ruthlessly sucking in every hard-earned pound I have earned or saved.

Because it’s not just the wedding is it? In most cases, said wedding also involves a stag do, which is usually somewhere that is Not England. These are expensive. Then on the wedding day itself, there is a gift that needs to be bought, a bed that needs to be booked, and transport that must be taken. Some folks even have the audacity to prepare a ‘destination wedding’.

The situation came to a head on Monday, where I decided to bite the bullet and book the many trips around this country — and continent — that were upcoming. It was only when Barclays blocked my card due to ‘suspicious activity’ (surprising, I have always been very popular) that I realised quite the sum of money I had spent. I will not post the amount here, but thank goodness that February is a short month and that I have lots of tinned food.

I understand that a wedding day (at least the first one) is a very special and important moment, and that the money I am having to pay is a likely pittance in comparison to that spent by the happy couple. However, Country Life has given me this column to moan, and moan I shall. I wanted to re-do my bathroom, and potentially go on holiday myself. And now all that money is gone.

Naturally, thoughts have already turned to some kind of retribution. What should I do when I get married? Perhaps a stag do in Antarctica? A wedding on the International Space Station? Who knows what might even be possible once a woman has decided that she might be tempted to spend the rest of her life with me.

Or perhaps I should lead by example and simplify. Registry office, hog roast and karaoke? At this rate, it will be all I can afford.