As if moving from the quiet of the Perthshire countryside into town wasn’t daunting enough, we chose to do it during a pandemic.
We moved in just as lockdown restrictions meant no one was allowed in our home. Family couldn’t visit and workmen, who were still working to a backlog after months of lockdown, struggled to fit us in.
The result is my husband and I have had to become a jack of all trades, where our abilities have allowed.
Initially, it felt as though this home move was an enormous life changing event. A decision that would change the course of our lives forever. How wrong we were!
Returning to Blairgowrie, thirty-one years after leaving, has turned out to be more of a non-event for me, and I mean this in the best way possible. I feel we have melted into life and when I’m not writing or throwing myself headfirst into our ever-growing list of DIY jobs, I am revelling in the fact it only takes a few minutes to drive into town. And, I have to say, walking our dogs after dark still feels like a luxury.
But, most of all, I am enjoying the novelty of bumping into people I haven’t seen for years, people I went to school with, people I worked with. There is often a moment where there is a flicker of recognition and then the years fall away as we catch up on thirty years in a few short minutes. There are others whose eyes are familiar, but I can’t quite place. I would imagine I am much harder to recognise, gone is the 80s perm and large hoop earrings that, of course, came in every colour. But, either way, the result is me delving into memories that were long forgotten, reminding me of friendships and specific events in my life that deserve to be remembered.
Bizarrely, and somewhat unexpectedly however, we find our little patch of suburbia almost as quiet as our old house in the countryside, but with the added pleasure of far more incidental human contact. So, our experimental year when we decide whether we should stay in town or return to the familiarity of the countryside, is something we are embracing and are so far enjoying.
However, to be truly honest to our big decision, we must face the negatives as well as the positives and, although my husband and I have settled into our new house, there is a strange feeling of isolation.
If you have followed my previous blog, you will know I was determined to build a family home wherever we ended up. And at least during lockdown in our old house, we had the memories of a bustling house and a full dinner table, laughter, chatter, board games and, although moved out, our children’s bedrooms and belongings were a reminder of our life there.
But, here, in our new house, lockdown restrictions have meant there are no such memories being made. We have had no family or friends to visit, no family gatherings around the table.
In this surreal world, my dad has walked around the outside of our house, peering through windows to see the changes we have made. My daughter, who is part of our extended bubble, is a primary school teacher, and for that reason alone has visited only once for fear of bringing the virus home to us. Our son has also followed the rules and not come to see, what is now, his new family home.
We are living a new life in a new house that has not brought with it the usual hustle and bustle of family life, we’ve no friends popping in for a visit. Family photographs scattered around help, but it’s not the same.
This, however, is the world we are all finding ourselves in just now, and, one day, normality will return. That is when we will know for sure if we are going to lay down our roots and settle in town. If so, there will be walls to knock down and others to build, life will be busy again and that is when I thrive. That is when I will have to juggle a desperation to write and desperation to create a family home.
In the meantime, I will continue to make the most of my new writing spot, inspired by its views and the changing seasons in suburbia.