The Last Post

We’re almost there and it feels like a miracle. Our house is finished enough to live in, although there is still plenty to do. The building inspector is coming this week to see if he is minded to issue us with a Completion Certificate, enabling us to apply for our last mortgage payment, our last grant payment and our VAT reclaim. It’s a tense time. From talking to other people, there seems to be little consistency in what the building inspector might consider still needs to be done – from air tightness tests to extra precautions for fire escapes that are not in the plans. Apparently it helps to have a very tidy site – first impressions being everything – perhaps we should have fresh coffee brewing, bread baking, a jug of flowers.

Isaac and Bea making a fire to help clear the siteIMG_7052

Once this part is over, our cashflow is less stressful and we can finish the last few things at our own pace, we will be able to relax a little and our house will start to really feel like our home. The children feel it already, despite being away for four nights a week at school, or perhaps because of that. It might take Phil and I a bit longer – at the moment it still feels like a project with deadlines rather than the place where we come to get away from those kind of stresses. And it will help when there is a place for everything. Finished fitted cupboards instead of stacks of plastic boxes. But it is also about memories. Isaac and Bea grew up in other homes and the floor in here doesn’t whisper stories of our feet pacing with a sleepless baby, or of their first steps, or those early years before school when I was a stay-at-home mum. Our lives have changed beyond recognition since then and I am feeling a bit disconnected from our past.

On the other hand, our house does tell its own, quite different stories. Each layer within the floors and walls is filled with recollections of the building process and the many, many people who have helped us to build it. The professionals and craftsmen who did the clever stuff and our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues who shovelled stone and gravel, moved scaffolding, held bits of wood, screwed, banged, sawed, climbed on the roof, painted walls, varnished, helped with cashflow, entertained the children, lent us equipment, gave interior design advice and endless moral support, and tolerated us becoming, let’s face it, selfish, single-minded and boring over the past few years. Bari, Jim, John, Will, Andy, Bebiano, Glenn, Rachel, Ash, Ivor, Jean, Dave, Elisabeth, Tony, Cameron, Nick, Hamish, Matthew, Paul A, Tina, Lizzie, Darragh, Iain, Aletta, Joe, Iona, Oran, Jon, Avril, James, Rene, Matt, Paul Y, Claudia, Sam, Hannah, James, Catherine, Ellie, Laura, Emma, Chris, Gill, Yeshi, Morven. Without this host of angels we would not have made it and we are incredibly grateful.

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The final word is for the children. We had a crazy dream and you might not have chosen to spend five years of your lives growing up in (and growing out of) a caravan so that we could fulfill it. Thank you for your patience, your fortitude and always being willing to help. Without you here to make this your home, the dream would never have taken flight.

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