Thursday, 18 October 2007

Sometimes I find it hard to hang on to my dreams and when I found that the people who had been living in my cottage had trashed it I wondered why I had bothered to make it so special. Portland has always been the home of my heart but for thirteen years we lived in Gosport near Stokes Bay where the land is flat and the sea is usually mud coloured. Eventually my daughter said quietly to her father ‘You know Mother is still homesick?’
Before long we had found a tiny terraced cottage which the family hoped would cure the problem. ‘Granny’s Cottage’ was carved on a slat and mounted beside the front door and once again I had a home on the island. The second weekend we spent there my husband said ‘We might move back completely one day,’ and within the hour I had found the house which was to be our home for the next six years. We put our Gosport house on the market and sold it within forty minutes. We spent the next six months living in the cottage while we restored our new seventeenth century home and created an art gallery and pottery workshop on the ground floor.
Do I believe in ghosts? I’m not sure, but I certainly find some houses have an atmosphere all their own. I once lived in one which I found so oppressive that I began to think I was losing the plot until a very tough teenager said ‘funny place this, I keep thinking I’m going to bump into somebody.’ Granny’s Cottage on the other hand has an atmosphere of peace and calm despite the fact that lorries carrying huge blocks of stone pass by outside. Perhaps it comes from the monks of Wykeham who, over a thousand years ago, lived on the site. I decided to keep it and instead of letting it as a holiday home I wanted it to be a real home. The first tenants loved it and looked after it, so I was quite unprepared for what I found when the last tenants moved out. It took two months to put it to rights and I found myself borrowing rather a lot but the sense of peace has returned both to the cottage and to me. I have a new tenant who is clearly very happy there so my dream has been restored.