We went to Staunton Harold for a few hours today.
I have blogged about it on numerous occasions before, but we haven’t been for months, and it was a nice, sunny afternoon, so we went to drift about with the masses of dog walkers, plant buyers, and middle class Sunday potterers.
For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a beautiful estate in South Derbyshire. The house, which is Georgian, used to be a hospice, but is now a private home. The church, built in 1653, belongs to the National Trust, and the grounds are open to the public to roam about in.
Behind the house, all the old outbuildings have been turned into a garden centre, art gallery, deli, tea room etc. It’s all very serene and lovely. The air smells of scones and Boden knit wear.
I love it there. I did try to persuade Jason to buy me the house when it came up for sale a few years ago. Sadly we did not have the requisite millions, which was a shame.
Occasionally, properties on the estate come up for sale. One is for sale at the moment. You can have a nose at it by clicking here. Whenever I see the boards outside the cottages I revive the fanciful notion that I would be happy, living in bucolic splendour, owning a red setter, and bumbling about in my Hunter wellies, trug in hand.
I like climbing roses, and old brick. I love flag stones, and cottage gardens. I think I would be willing to make the sacrifice of cuteness of abode over space. I think I would be happy thinning carrots and making soup on the Aga, while Jason drives about in a Land Rover, shooting things and breaking shot guns over his knee.
I fantasise about being the female Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall.
This is, of course, total bollocks.
I hate low ceilings and lack of light – that is pretty much all cottages out the window
I hate quirky layouts where you have to go through rooms and down corridors and up spiral stair cases just to go to the loo – see above
I hate the fact that paying for charm means that we all have to sit on top of each other and there is no privacy because we can only afford three rooms when we need eight not to want to kill each other on a daily basis.
I hate the fact that living on an estate will probably mean a whole raft of weird by laws that you have to adhere to, even if you have spent all that money on a house of your own. We once lived in such a place and got harangued by neighbours for daring to put up coloured fairy lights at Christmas when white ones were de rigeur. That sort of thing.
I suspect there will be shared drive ways. I hate shared drive ways.
I hate being neighbourly and I hate everyone else knowing my business (I know. I blog. Go figure). In places like this you know everyone, five minutes after moving in, and I expect they do things like bonfire night and neighbours drinks parties. Gah.
I will go insane because the postman will inevitably never deliver anything in a straightforward manner because your address is bound to be a bit weird, and you will forever be filling out forms at the sorting office, or haring up and down the country retrieving your parcels from ditches.
I am the wrong temperament for this kind of place. I am loud, and gauche. I know how to behave in all kinds of social situations, but knowing it, and wanting to do it, are two entirely different things, and when required upon to behave I tend to throw all my toys out of the pram.
I am just not sufficiently middle class. I will make hideous faux pas all the time. I am not even remotely upper class. I cannot ride or hunt or shoot. I love dogs, but cannot be doing with their failure to take themselves out for a wee, their devotion, or the fact they smell of dog. I am rubbish at things like Debretts peerage. I am not good with people at all unless they are under twelve and want to talk to me about zombies and Alex Rider. I would be perpetually getting my coat, or being black balled, or both.
As for the cottage garden. I like gardens, but I get bored of them after an afternoon, and if they can’t look after themselves when I’ve gone to all that effort I sulk.
And let us never speak of Agas. Not after that holiday where it was our only cooking option apart from one electric hob ring, and we ate a lot of pasta because I could not get to grips with the Aga in any way shape or form, other than as a very expensive hot water bottle.
I am a fair weather countrysider. I know what is required of me. I grew up in the countryside. I went to university in the countryside. I can double dig potatoes, and recognise what species trees are. I know the difference between voles and shrews etc. But I do not like it Sam I Am.
I am a city girl through and through. I like pavements and restaurants, and book shops, and gardens with more sculptures in than plants. I like to have proximity to urban squalor, and I like the anonymity that a city gives you.
Is this just sour grapes because Jason won’t buy me a country pile, despite the fact my heart yearns for one?
But probably not.