We have moved a lot. Twenty years ago we started our married life in a basement flat at the back of Shepherd's Bush or what the estate agent euphemistically called, 'A garden flat in West Kensington Village'. Since then, we've moved a total of eight times, twice travelling up and down the length of the country, before settling in our current corner of the Scottish Borders.
Every house and area we've lived in has had something special - the beams and leaded-light windows of a chocolate-box cottage in a Hertfordshire village, watching clouds of starlings in aerial display across the misty Somerset levels, looking down across the industrial landscape of Bradford from the top floor of a modern townhouse and seeing it lit and transformed with amazing firework displays every Eid and Diwali. The Little House, however, is my favourite. It's not a pretty house, in fact it looks quite austere, sitting up on the headland facing the North Sea with its brown slurry of harling to protect against all the worst that the Scottish weather might bring. But it is a magical house. In the summer sun it glows a warm amber and the overgrown garden is a tangle of surprising hues; all manner of plants and flowers are determined to peek through the mass of branches. In autumn the golden hay bales look like they might just roll down the hill any moment to splash into the aqua waves. And in winter, the log burner radiates heat through the whole house while the snow lies undisturbed on the surrounding fields.
From the front door each and every way leads to a different walk. One track leads down and through the smugglers tunnel to the Cove with its tiny harbour, looking pretty much the same as it has done for the last hundred years. Another track leads along the clifftop, sea holly and hawthorn lining the path, fishing boats criss-crossing the choppy waters below, swallows sweeping the sky. My favourite route is along the tractor-worn track and towards the small patch of woodland beyond. My favourite because this walk often affords you a close-up view of deer grazing and once, a bold and beautiful hare still as a sculpture on the path for a clear and perfect moment.
I am savouring each and every last minute we have in this house because by January we have to leave it. As much as I like to think of it as mine, it is not. It is just leased to us and we do not own it. Although we were assured that we could live here for many years, as it turns out, things change (quickly in this case) and our landlords need it back...soon. How I wish that we could buy it. How I hope that we can find somewhere else not too far away to move to. I wish that we could stay and I hope the girls can forgive us if we have to move them away from their schools and their friends.
In a small rural community there is little choice in housing options when you rent and we couldn't believe our luck when we were offered this place with its beautiful views and spectacular sunsets. And we are lucky. Just one look at the news is a stark reminder of just how lucky we really are. I'm just praying that the luck continues and we find somewhere else. Somewhere near this place we love so much. Somewhere we can call home.