Someone once commented, “English houses are so small, not like in my country,” (and “Englishwomen don’t know how to keep their houses clean”).

That may indeed be true – house prices in some parts of the UK are crazy – but one thing we know what to do with our small and dirty houses is this: we know how to build homes. An Englishman’s home is indeed his castle.

Here’s the backyard view taken from my son’s modest house in a modest part of Southampton.  Yes indeed, those handkerchief-sized backyards are indeed tiny, but on Sunday mornings, you can often hear the sound of children laughing as they play, dogs barking happily, lawnmowers going and families eating together.

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My mother-in-law was a cleaner and her husband a bus driver.  They lived in a nondescript house in a not particularly pretty neighbourhood. This was the home that my children’s father grew up in, and it was filled with love (from a Spanish grandmother and aunt, too). They used to sublet rooms in the house to make ends meet but it was a happy house. The energy lingered long after my mother-in-law moved out (due to dementia), so filled with love was the house, covered with dog hairs and photographs of children, grandchildren and long-departed dogs.

Isn’t that more important than big and clean houses that are perhaps devoid of love and laughter?

Photo: my daughter hanging out washing in her big brother’s small house.

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Related post: Of happy homes and wonky vegetables and Which home would you choose?