I’m jealous. Next door has come up for sale. It is the perfect stone cottage, the type which makes Somerset such an attractive county. Well situated at the edge of this outstanding village, it IS SPACIOUS, has beautiful views, a lovely garden, everything about it is great.
But we can’t afford it, so what’s going on? I never feel like this. Houses are places from which your life spreads out into the world. OK, a nice house is a boon, but we’ve a fine cottage, small, the smallest place we’ve ever lived in, a place friends can hardly stay in, but bigger by far than a plastic tent in a refugee camp.
Looking at myself, I note I pine for what we’ve lost. It’s been a tough two years and with little support. From the shattering stroke which cut my health and strength in half. Then the unfair loss of my French Health Care, which meant quitting France in a hurry and losing our fantastic home weeks after completing eight years of careful renovation. Selling at a huge loss, halving our money. Yes, it’s true that we’d planned to leave France in a few years, but not for six or ten.
So that’s why I’m jealous. How silly; smirking at myself, I wake up, look out at the rain which dominates this country, but long for sunshine. Life here is lived indoors for a good reason. In France we mostly lunched in the garden.
A local young couple we vaguely know look at the house, we hope they’ll buy it. But it's sealed bids. They will be blindly competing with people from more expensive areas who’ve sold smaller properties for a fortune and who will buy this cottage without a thought and still have loads in the bank. That’s what’s happening to Britain’s countryside. Locals everywhere are being edged out because those who arrive have loads more money released from the sale of small city flats or houses.
This village is half-filed with such 'blow-ins' as we outsiders are called down the way in Devon. They walk their dogs which keep them company in their large houses, they keep the pub alive, enjoying frequent meals locals can’t afford. They have committees and coffee mornings and all sorts going on, which makes this a good place to live. But locals move out, seeking cheaper property and hence new values arrive, for example, a notice in today's Parish Mag states parking on the village common is unacceptable. Those with money don't need to park here, they've the clout and cash to get planning to build driveways and garages. So here's an interesting divide which will soon dominate our lives.
Jealousy invades other parts of my mind. Whether we want it or not, we are influenced by those around us. In this sought after village we are surrounded by people who think nothing of constantly going out to eat in pubs, restos or in the distant hotels they weekend in whenever they wish. People who at a whim fly off to far off places, and not just twice a year, but often once a month. This makes those of us who hardly survive each month feel jealousy, if only we could enjoy one such outing.... but hey! STOP!
This isn't me! It's the mindset generated by living here. End it now. Don't hope to join in. Enjoy the gift of these stimulating people from outside. Such a dank mindset revives tensions created during my difficult childhood. It is not this house, the one next door, nor this village which makes me happy or unhappy. If my unconscious keeps comparing this life to our, arty, spacious French home and garden, a time we had ample spare cash, happiness will have little chance to enter my life.
Happiness is more important than a spacious house. Or spare cash. Happiness defines our lives. Happiness is influenced by how successful we consider we are. If we measure ourselves against the supposed advantages others have, then we will always be grumbling inside. If we gain satisfaction from what we actually have (even what's left after bad luck in health), then our lives will be richer. Now, that is precious.