I spent fourteen years living in London and I loved living there for the first 8 or 9 years. I had a fantastic job and a great social life and I was rarely at home for the first few years so I didn’t mind the fact that, even on a reasonably good salary, I could only just afford a very small one bed flat with what the estate agent called ‘good outdoor space’. The outdoor space in question was roughly four feet by two feet and I could just about get a small chair half way out there if it was a sunny day and I wanted to sit outside to soak up some rays.
The one thing I always dreamt of having was a big garden with lots of plants and really nice outdoor garden furniture. In fact, I used to obsess about Ibiza-style outdoor sofas and double sun beds like the ones they have on the beaches in groovy places like Croatia. I didn’t care that the weather might only be good enough to enjoy the afore-mentioned articles of furniture on less than 20 days a year, I just wanted to expand the designer interior dreams I had from reading too many home design magazines out to the garden.
When I got married, my little flat was too cramped for us within a few months and we had to start our depressing house hunting task. Depressing because, in London, you simply cannot afford what you want. Even if you win the lottery, it won’t be enough and if you’ve ever watched Phil and Kirstie then you’ll know: “it’s all about the compromises’. Compromise we did- and moved away from our Fitzrovia stomping ground to the bad lands of Finsbury Park and a twenty minute tube journey to work. It was some adjustment; after being used to walking everywhere and always having friends who were glad to meet centrally, we found that people who lived in South London didn’t really want to make the two hour round trip to come for dinner.
Our previously busy life of hosting big dinner parties slowed down, we found ourselves on our own more often and then we found ourselves expecting a child and things slowed down even more. Lots of our friends were having families around that time so it meant we could all adjust together thankfully. There were lots of changes. First of all, I had to give up the wine (obviously), then I had to give up my job (that was hard), then we had to give up some of our dreams. Caribbean holidays were replaced with weekends in Tenerife at all inclusive hotels with crèche facilities.
Over the next couple of years, the dreams of fancy lamps and designer wall paper, along with the upmarket garden furniture, was usurped by kiddies’ things. A ride on plastic horse, a blow up paddling pool, a small plastic slide: I never did get my outdoor sofa or my boudoir with floaty curtains, but I do enjoy my garden and being in the fresh air, eating al fresco on a warm Sunday afternoon, and I enjoy watching our little one enjoy the garden with us, sat on our cheap plastic chairs!