I didn’t even intend to enter the antique shop, but it was freezing cold, my companion was going in and I didn’t fancy standing outside. We browsed for a while. She bought nothing. I bought a large, rusty key that somehow took my fancy.
“Now you just need the house to go with it,” she grinned.
“Fat chance,” I remember saying.
Unable to lay my hands on my capital (family stuff) I’ve been renting a pleasant enough little terraced house with a tiny courtyard and waiting, and dreaming.
Then – about a month later – I saw the picture.
Grade 2 listed 17th century cottage with stone mullion windows and a long garden right here in my town, at a suspiciously low price – one that, if I could lay my hands on my money, would just be within my reach.
I felt ridiculously excited.
Obviously, though, there were drawbacks. Even the softly lit, flattering estate agent’s photos made it clear that not all was perfect.
‘In need of modernisation’ it said. Well yes, that and major roof repairs, getting rid of the large gaping hole in an upstairs ceiling, damp issues, ill-fitting single-glazed windows, no doors that lock without extreme physical force being applied – or even open and close properly – and we’re getting closer.
So did that lot put me off?
I couldn’t figure out why not. So I chatted it over with a friend. Telling her the story, I got to the point where the photo in the estate agent’s window had grabbed my attention. The words, “and I knew it was my cottage” came out of my mouth. I hadn’t consciously put them there.
At the same moment, I had a flashback to an event that had taken place several years before. I’d been participating in a group meditation. The leader had suggested we find our power animals. I saw myself standing in a garden. It was in a part of my town I had often passed through, but never stopped in. As I stood there, a unicorn walked slowly towards me and I felt perfect peace and happiness.
As you’ve probably guessed, the location of this vision was exactly where the cottage is situated.
Now everything started to make sense to me. This really was – in some strange, metaphysical way – my cottage.
The strangest things started to happen. Every time I hit a problem, the solution appeared.
My money – tied up and unreachable for five years – suddenly was available.
My fears about planning restrictions on listed buildings were allayed by a quick call to the local conservation officers. Not only did they patiently chat through the issues by phone – one of them is coming out to walk through the cottage with me and talk me through the options.
I seem to have found the most thorough and helpful surveyor in the county.
Even when I put out the thought that it would be helpful to talk to someone who knows that part of town and the neighbours well, the Universe delivered. From out of nowhere, someone I hadn’t seen for a couple of years wandered up to me in the High Street and told me all I needed to know.
I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve said, “Ideally, I’d like…” and received exactly that.
Early days, but I’m staying in the flow…
Ideally I’d like the surveyor’s report to highlight all the problems, but not find anything too structural that needs repairs beyond my rather limited means.
Ideally I’d like the conservation officer to tell me I can put in an upstairs bathroom and make the other changes I dream of.
Ideally I’d like the vendor to accept my offer, so that I’ll have enough left for the ‘modernisations’.
Ideally I’d like to find friendly, reliable local builders and craftsmen with traditional skills who could put this poor, neglected cottage back together.
Ideally, I’d love to be the custodian of an ancient cottage that feels warm, snug and comfortable, with a pretty and productive garden, by this time next year.
I’m more than happy to share it with a unicorn, and I bet the key will fit somewhere!