I’ve had a few seaside commissions recently, and have discovered the soothing joy of drawing pebbles. Lots and lots of pebbles. I thought it would be boring – it certainly takes a LONG time – but it isn’t. It’s relaxing. And generally, what I’m thinking while I’m drawing pebbles, is – I want to be there. Especially now, on a beautiful sunny day, when the commission I’m working on features a lovely couple, posing happily by the sea wall, sea glittering away behind them.
So, we are thinking of moving to the coast. Actually, let me be braver with that sentence. We ARE moving to the coast, after 8 years here in the burbs. Not a decision that we have taken lightly, given that as far as I can work out it costs about 8 million pounds to move, and, as EVERYONE IN THE WORLD will tell you, (altogether now) It’s The Most Stressful Thing You Will Ever Do.
On the advice of a friend, I bought a book about it. There were things to tick off, a sure sign of a stress lessening exercise. The book told me to look at my house with fresh eyes.
Well, I tried. But I do not have fresh eyes. How is it possible to have fresh eyes, when everywhere you see evidence of everything that has happened in your house? The garden – once a huge, glorious space used only for sunbathing, beer drinking and reading Heat magazine – suddenly looks cramped as a swing set and a pink slide jostles for space with a chicken house and a washing line full of small pyjamas. Two sets of bunting from two separate 40th birthday parties. The mismatched plastic garden chairs, nestling under the plastic table that has never not been wobbly, that we vowed to replace every summer with more grown up furniture, until the summer came along, and new ballet shoes were required, or new car tyres, and money for fancy garden furniture was not in plentiful supply.
The kitchen extension that, despite my best intentions, regularly drove me to tears and made me vow never to come within 5 metres of a builder ever again. The dining room, stuffed full of my art supplies, there as a stop gap until we built the summer house studio that we never actually did build. Our daughter’s increasing heights, scribbled on the wall, accompanied by dates. Looking at the latest line now, without seeing her underneath it, I assume I’ve made a mistake. It’s almost at the light switch, how can she be THAT BIG? Countless photos – wedding pictures, baby pictures, dance shows, long distance friends, family parties.
Nope, you cannot look at your own house with fresh eyes. Which is why I plan to be out when anyone comes round to view it. Imagine? Viewer: “Ooh, we’d have to change this kitchen floor.” Me: “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?? Clearly you have no taste. Leave. Now.” I’d be there all chippy and defensive, arms crossed, huffing about how the size of the bedroom has been perfectly fine for us if you must know.
So, selling our house, with all these memories, is not a process I am going to relish. I’m going to need to keep my eye on the prize – a daily treat of seaside magic, in real life and not via my computer screen. And maybe I will get my summer house….