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.
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.