While watching the caryatids shimmy

Today is quite a momentous day.

It is the beginning of the end of Blackpitts as we exchanged contracts today are due to move out on the 13th August.

It is the right thing to do as the time has come to move on: our children are grown up, the house is too big and it would be exciting to make a new garden somewhere else but at the same time it is hugely emotional.

We first saw this place on a rainy saturday in 1991. It is right next door to my parents-in-law’s house but, in the twenty odd years in which Celestria had lived there at that time she had never been through the little wooden gate into the neighbouring farmyard. This was mostly because the farmer was quite scary – he was given to nailing dead foxes to various barns and shouting at people.

We wandered in to find a courtyard of ramshackle barns surrounded by broken concrete and junk. The decision was almost immediate: we would build a house, a garden and a life in this unappealing farmyard. We were young and enthusiastic so, after various hiccups and minor crises, we built Blackpitts. Our younger son was born in the house soon after it was completed in 1994.

The garden came after the house: there was no real design. We decided that we had to do something as the place was just mud and concrete, the children could not really go outside without tetanus shots and there was a plank leading across an old sheep dip to the front door. I designed the garden while driving a dumper truck full of topsoil around the place. “Let’s put a bed here” ( lots of topsoil), “some grass here” (less topsoil) “and a terrace about here” (no topsoil). Unorthodox but it seemed to work in the end as this garden is delicious. I can look up as I write this and see the buds bursting and the bees buzzing: sometimes it is so heartbreakingly gorgeous that I want to weep.

And now we are leaving and that makes me want to weep as well.

It is not just the house and garden which we built from a very unpromising start but a whole lifestyle. Apart from all the obvious family stuff (the lawns upon which the children played, the beech columns that became goalposts, the dogs and cats buried around the place etc, etc). It is the plants that we brought back from such-and-such a nursery, the core of many lectures which I have given over the years and even the name of my website and this blog.

Blogging from Blackpitts was born here in 2006. Do I rename it? What will it become next? What is our next incarnation? Where will we live? In what?

All these and many other questions (like”Do I move all those bricks? Or leave them here?” or “What will happen to Lovey and Dovey?”) hover over our heads.

All of them will require answers. At some point.