Friday, March 11, 2011

The Joys of English Country Houses


Oh I do love a picture of an English Country House.The one above in the village of Widdicombe in Dartmoor Devon  is a perfect example of what living should be like makes me feel so nostalgic and makes me want to sell up here and dash back to my Devon roots. I was brought up in the picturesque fishing village of Brixham.

All my life I have loved the true English Country House set in vast grounds with ha ha's and manicured lawns and cottages with thatched roofs and apple trees. They are so romantic and desirable that in my youth I should have given anything to live in one.

This is strange coming from a woman who was brought up for the first five years of her life with an Indian Room and a glorious designer garden. But most of my youth was spent in a semi detached in Stanmore and 18 years living in the boredom, drabness and conformity of the suburbs of Metro land. Anyone who has experienced this will tell you escape to anything else is the only answer as anything is preferable. Today I could not afford to buy a semi thank goodness so I can never go back.

I used to dream of perfect Jane Austin Georgian Houses with 'pretty little wildernesses', thatched cottages with bluebells and moated castles with climbing roses but luckily for me my dreams never came true because in reality  living in one of these properties must be a nightmare.

Living  on Dartmoor would be one of the most unpleasant experiences known to man. If you are lucky you will get a sunny day as pictured every second year, the rest of the time is mist and rain and in winter dank and cold. I have driven across Dartmooor many times and it has always been raining. That is why the Victorians put their nastiest prison there which I have driven past on several occasions but never seen and 'The Hound of the Baskervills' by Sherlock Holmes is so terrifying. The weather is awful!

Then there is the problem of upkeep. Two acres takes a lot of looking after let alone 45. Lawns need to be cut on a regular basis. Houses need to be dusted by someone. Family homes are soon outgrown as the young birds fly the nest and can be empty for most of the year. Plodding around an empty mansion is no fun.

Selling is a problem. One rich man's dream home is seldom another's. Most rich men are self made and want to build their own 'dream home'. Dream homes soon rot. The Sunningdale home of Prince Andrew is a prime example. Unwanted and unloved and soon to be demolished or turned into a Faith School. This is usually not successful as family mansions are not designed for schools. I experienced three of this variety all have gone.

No English Country Houses are best kept for chocolate box lids and papers to be looked at and admired but take my advise and never, never own one.

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