The Pillowbook of Prudence…

On House…

There is a little place by the sea that we call House.

Those who know me know that it is the place in which I feel most comfortable. That it is where I am content.

How is it that a place can make you feel so? Those who study the human psyche say that one should feel confident and happy anywhere, that being anchored to one place is unhealthy and shows lack of resilience and strength.

But there is also a very old saying: ‘Home is where the heart is.’

My heart is there, in a funny little 60 year old cottage in a village where my family have been resident for almost 90 years.

Resident is a loose term really, as my family, my clan, have mostly only ever stayed in the village for weekends and holidays. Except for my grandmother who, when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, decided to live there. It was flat, the sea air healthy, she could grow her veggies and fruit, keep chickens and ducks. My Pa (grandfather) would drive from town every weekend and this when car travel was on a dirt road and to get to the village took three or four hours.

At one point when there was a severe health outbreak in the city, Pa insisted his three girls live by the sea until the contagion had gone. They didn’t mind at all; no school, just sun, surf and sea day in, day out.

So the grandparents loved the place and worked for the village to establish fund-raising regattas and other community-based events, so that one of the beaches was eventually named after Pa. Their girls loved the place, adventures of all kinds culminating in their own loves disappearing to the second World War and Pa belonging to a form of Dad’s Army to protect the village from invasion by the Japanese.

The girls married their returned servicemen and had their own children, a clan of eight grandchildren who grew up on the family jetty, or sailing in the big wooden yacht that was built in the thriving wooden boatyards of the time. We would  stretch out on mounds of sails bundled onto the bunks whilst the kettle boiled in the galley. The children boated and fished far and wide over the seas and to the islands at their doorsteps. It was like Swallows and Amazons, but in real life. Whenever things went wrong in their lives, they all came back to the village and it healed, making things right.

Then the grandchildren got married and the clan expanded to fifteen great grandchildren, the original house becoming too small. So we all (the various new families) bought our own little cottages, all within a loud cooee of each other.

My husband and I are only the second owners of House. It was handed over to us by a dear lady who said she was glad we were moving in – she could tell we would love it like she did. And she passed me a vast collection of blue and white Cornishware as she left.

Love House we have, we and our children and dogs. It wrapped its quirky arms around us, allowed the sun to beam through every window at us, the sounds of waves and birds never far away. House’s large garden is private, with an orchard and a huge vegetable patch. It has seen me through all the highs and lows of my later life. When I sleep in House, I can sleep for nine hours, I walk for miles on deserted beaches, I swim, sail and kayak, and my head empties of all but what I want to write.

Most recently we have given House a re-vamp, some spit and polish, and I’m even less likely to want to live in the city than before.

And on this 17th day of November, lest you think I am wrong to view this dwelling in such a way, this quote arrived in my In Box today from the Daily Om:

“Our day-to-day demands can quickly take their toll on our well-being if we are not vigilant about caring for ourselves as best we can. One way we can ensure that we have an opportunity to relax and recuperate each day is to create a soft place to land… This landing pad… can provide us with a safe and comforting refuge in which we can decompress and recover from the day’s stresses. There, we are enveloped in feelings of security that transcend other issues that may be unfolding…”

It says it all.

And I am still not wearing black!