The Comfort of Home - Juliet Thomas
We are being asked to stay indoors; not to join up to a war-zone front-line, not to live on the streets, not to head off to a refugee camp… just to stay in the comfort of our own home.
What is being asked of us is nothing compared to others in this world and today more than any other, I need to remind myself of this as yesterday, as part of the ‘at risk’ group, I now need to stay at home for 12 weeks.
Unfortunately, with the freedom and the luxuries of a Western life, we have become spoilt and take for granted the life we’ve come to know and love. Having been social distancing since November, due to chemo treatment, I know only too well the price disease can have on your freedom, your life.
So, retreating to our homes it is, to the sanctuaries we’ve created, to home comfort, whilst the world heals. It’s not so bad really is it?
I love my home, its name ‘Mulberry Barn’, conjures up a sketched image you could find in a children’s book. It started out as part of a farm which was later converted 20 years ago into four properties built around a central courtyard. Before that, dairy cows sheltered in what is now our kitchen, hall and living spaces.
When it became ours, after tenuous bidding by my husband who works in sales and just had get a deal, I was more than joyous, I couldn’t believe it was ours. We’d come from a square-boxed, new build, which was a lovely starter home, but our new dream house was where our family would begin, and it simply oozed character and quirkiness.
I was just six weeks from giving birth to our first child, the day we moved in. After lifting boxes all day and many trips up and down the stairs, I sank happily into the deep, roll-topped bath full of bubbles to soothe my aching muscles. And then, because of my giant belly, I couldn’t get back out of it!
Later, having been rescued, I laid in bed in our double-height bedroom, transfixed by the feeling of space compared to our old house, I felt we were close to the night sky and floating.
However, the elevated, out-in-the-sticks, climate soon surrounded us and diminished any feeling of calm. It was a stormy, November night and we lay, wide-eyed, senses on full alert to the wind whipping loudly through the eves. We felt sure the house was going to take off, like Dorothy’s in the Wizard of Oz.
I can’t say we’ve ever got used to the wild weather. Since we’ve been here, the kids trampoline has taken flight into the neighbours garden, our pet rabbits escaped from their cage as it blew down the drive and I’ve stopped the patio furniture, just short, of heading through our kitchen window.
Add in the loudest owl, field mice creeping into our walls when chillier nights arrived and a vocal choir of birds performing concerts by dawn, then you get the picture!
The antidote to all the commotion? Beautiful country walks on our doorstep, the most incredible sunsets on a Summer’s evening; fresh eggs, snowy lambs, and three curious alpacas who trot over to say hello, just up the lane from our house.
Inside, the house still has many imperfections; lights never fully work, blinking at us menacingly and Wi-Fi is often a joke resulting in many a family argument. I’m pretty sure we also have a cow ghost and don’t get me started on the size of the spiders we have hiding in the beams, but this house is alive with character and the unique features that make it special.
It’s been our first experience of having an Aga and now I’d never be without one, that warm hug as you enter the kitchen in Winter is just heaven! The rustic brick fireplace and stove is hypnotic when the flames dance between the logs. We’ve added our stamp, several times to the décor, creating a modern cosy, country feel, and my ever-increasing gallery of personal artwork adorns the walls, much to my husband’s despair!
I’m a sucker for patterned notebooks, bright cushions, snug throws, fragrant candles and the collection of vases dotted about, spring flowers spraying forth. As well as my family, these are the ingredients that make our home burst to the brim with comfort.
To get our daily dose of fresh air, whilst on lock-down, the husband has built a pergola in the garden where I’ll be able to go to write, paint, read and listen to the flirting birds, so all is not lost.
Yes, my country walks will be missed, along with coffees and catch-ups, but they aren’t gone forever and thanks to the digital age we are lucky to be able to still communicate.
The sooner we all hunker down, the sooner we get back to the life and community, that by then, I believe we will appreciate so much more. This is our opportunity to be great, get through this and then truly live life to the full.
Until then, get comfortable, and stay safe.