Home is where the ‘character features’ are?

Ladies and gentlemen – my 10 year old cousin, Dominique…

What does the cheese say to itself in the mirror?

Halloooooo Miiii!


Because HALLOUMI is a cheese. HALLOU and MI. D’you get it? Wait, I’ll get a pen and write it down for you.

This kid is my hero. I always thought I loved her like a daughter and now, having an *actual* daughter, I’m certain of it. Dominique was born when I was 16 and so she and I have been a constant in each others lives – a ‘have seen each other 3 times a week nearly every week for the last 10 years’ constant. She’s the  youngest of 5, is chronically dyslexic and has Very Important Parents who separated when she was 4… she’s needed looking after. I worry about her all.the.time, apparently unnecessarily, it would seem. Dominique’s birthday is September 27th. The same date as the famous Macmillan Coffee Mornings. For her birthday, she is asking for donations to Macmillan. For her birthday. She’s TEN.   


1am on a random Sunday morning. The best time to realise, yet again, why your best friend is who she is.

Me: Why are you up? Weirdo.

Anna: I had a nap earlier, fell asleep in the middle of The Book Thief.

Me: Hmm. Indicative of your opinion of it?

Anna: No, I do really like it so far but I went out for lunch so obviously needed a 2 hour nap to recover.

Me: Standard.

Anna: Why are YOU up?


Me: ………

Anna: That is so far from being asleep it is hilarious. That is not 1am behaviour.

Me: Maybe she had a nap earlier whilst reading The Book Thief and I didn’t notice.

Anna: Entirely possible. We held our monthly Book Club and she was unsure of the realism of Death as a narrator. It was an exhausting discussion.


In one day – nay, not even one day; merely 4 hours – I got to see Anna and her gorgeous home, hair and bump; I got to eat the most aaaaaaaaaaamazing tomato soup in the universe AND I got to see Baby K. I saw Baby K in all their insanely adorable glory and they waved at me. Well, I think they waved at Stella, actually. But whatevs. I’m claiming the wave. Can you even begin to imagine how excited I am, readers? I don’t think you can. I haven’t even got the energy to squeal anymore. Much.


We moved house. We did it. We’re all alive, we’ve let the cats out and they keep coming home, there’s a sh*t-hot Indian takeaway 5 minutes away and my commute will be halved. Get in. Except…. get out.

*Self-absorbed, navel-gazing, woe-is-me alert*

I really don’t like our new house. I can’t bring myself to call it home yet. I can’t see myself being able to call it home. I havee, however, moved forward from, ‘I hate our new house’, so, baby steps. On paper, it’s exactly what we wanted and need – 3 bedrooms, smaller garden, good location for schools, closer to my work, shops nearby, bla bla bla boring boring boring.

In reality, I WANT THE COTTAGE BACK. I miss my stream, my fireplaces, my pheasants and cows, my sash windows and wonky floors and high ceilings and and and… Just thinking about our old home makes me teary. I don’t just miss the physical, I miss the emotional. I miss the memories. And yes, I know the memories are in my head and in photos and videos but oh GOD. I miss looking at that corner of the living room where Stella’s moses basket was the morning the three of us came home from the hospital. I miss the bridge in the garden that I skipped across on our wedding day. I first made pear-upside-down cake with pears from our pear tree in our garden THAT’S NOT OUR GARDEN ANYMORE.

Damnit. Someone slap me. Not even Internet-figuratively. Someone please come to my horrible new house and literally slap me.

Phil is bored of this now. He’s trotted out the line, ‘Where Stella is, is our home now’, so many times that neither of us want to hear it again. I know that he’s right. Heaven knows I wouldn’t want to be anywhere in this world without her. I know that as we make new memories here I will fall more and more in like (love is just too ambitious right now…) with this house. Maybe when we wake to the first snow of my favourite season I will call this house our home. Maybe when we celebrate Stella Temperance’s 1st birthday? Maybe if and when we give that 3rd bedroom it’s own occupant?I don’t know. I’ll get there, I’m sure.

For now, though, Phil almost has it right. He just missed one thing. My home is where he and Stella are.


Categories: Behind the Scenes at AOW, Life Experience
16 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Posted September 16, 2013 at 7:16 am | Permalink

    You’ll think I’m making this up but I was reading your new home woes and trying to think of what to write to cheer you up and saying your home is where Stell and Phil are is what I was thinking! I sorry but you’ll have to wait till November for your slap ;) Loveyourwritingas always gorgeous xx

  2. Posted September 16, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    I love Dominique. Why are all the women of your family so insanely wonderful?! Literally in awe.

    So. When we moved into our house in January we had weeks of this conversation:

    G: Katie, this is our house, it’s about a million times nicer and cosier and more perfect than our dodgy rented flat, and it’s OURS. It’s lovely. Why on Earth are you crying?
    Me: I know it’s nicer but… IT’S NOT MY HOME *wailing*
    G: But I’m here, your home is with me
    Me: Yes… I know… but I STILL MISS MY FLAT HOME

    He was bemused. Seriously, utterly bemused, for weeks. I can help myself, I create safe spaces, happy spaces, and those places are my home. It’s intangible, but it’s real. And it isn’t easy to move on or let go, even when the new house is genuinely a million times nicer, it was never to do with nice, I loved thy flat because it was our home, the first we built together. I loved it, and love isn’t rational. So, while I would totally come and slap you doll, if it would help, I think this is actually normal. You will be happy wherever you have Phil and Stella, but it’s still okay to have loved a place, especially somewhere that meant so much.

    KL xx

  3. Fee
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    I’m totally using that halloumi joke!

    I completely understand what you mean on the home front. We are fortunate to have a beautiful home full of character features and we’ve had some amazing times here – we lived here when we got engaged and when we got married, I lived here whilst pregnant with my son. However, some bad sh*t has also gone down whilst we’ve lived here. When the worst of it happened, we seriously considered moving back into our first home together (we were fortunate enough to keep it and rent it out).

    I found myself yearning not just for the smaller, coziness of it but for how life was when we lived there. It was just the two of us, no serious life dilemmas, no huge pressing worries about the future. It’s where we started to build our life together and I think will always be the home I am most emotionally attached to.

    Saying that, Phil is entirely correct in that my home is where T is (and my baking tins of course) so whilst I probably won’t cry when we eventually leave, I’ll always be happy here. If only our noisy neighbour would BE QUIET.

    Lovely post x

  4. Posted September 16, 2013 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    I KNOW IT’S NOT THE SAME but when I had my last car it was the only car I’ve ever had that I loved. He was red and sporty and there were no frames on the windows so when you wound them down it was just the door – just like all my favourite matchbox sports cars when I was little. He was called Mario and I loved him as if he was an actual person. When he had to go to the scrap yard I stood in the street in the rain crying when they towed him away. The scrap merchant thought I was mental.

    Now I have a really old Seat Ibiza that’s got so many dings it looks like it’s been attacked by a giant can crusher. It’s purple and it cost £350 because that was all the money we had after Mario died. It’s got low mileage and it’s reliable and nice to drive and I hate it every day for not being Mario.

    But then I remember that most people don’t have a car love that I did, maybe ever in their whole lives. And then I feel (a bit) better. I don’t think I will ever have a cottage as beautiful as yours, I’m not sure many will. Be proud to have loved and lost! *air punch*


    PS If any of you feel the need to back slowly away from me now, that’s fine.

    • Fee
      Posted September 16, 2013 at 8:38 am | Permalink

      My first car was a Seat Marbella called Carol. 0.9l engine, petrol gage didn’t work and boot didn’t shut but she had a DENIM INTERIOR. Sigh.

  5. Mahj
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    Obviously what I took from this was the cheese joke…and have another one for you:

    What cheese would you use to hide a horse?

    Cracks me up every time!

    As always, lovely lovely writing A.


  6. Posted September 16, 2013 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I have no doubt that Dominque is as awesome as she is because of your wonderful influence. Whenever I see photos of her with Stella on your instagram I think what a lucky little girl she is to have you in her life. Is there any way us AOW ladies can make a birthday donation to Macmillan on her behalf?? Because frankly if someone is that awesome and selfless at aged 10 I totally want to encourage it. We need more people like her in the world!

    Moving house is such an emotionally exhausting experience. As KL says you work hard to make somewhere your home, your safe haven and your place in the world. It takes time and I’m sure as you make more memories with P and S it will start to feel more like home. That doesn’t mean it will be your dream home like the cottage was, but you’ll think of it more fondly than you do now. After all it will be the home Stella takes her first steps in, says her first words, and has her first birthday which has got to count for something right? Just give it time. It might not be love at first, but a slow burning friendship, which isn’t a bad thing, just different.

    (Ha I feel like I’m giving relationship advice!)


  7. Peabody_Bites
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    When we moved from the flat where we first lived together, where we got engaged, where we planned our wedding, I cried and cried. And when we moved to our new house (stairs! a front door! our name on the title deeds!) I hated it for being bigger, for being darker, for being full of strange noises in the night. For about three months I couldn’t sleep through the night and I didn’t like being in the house on my own. For context, I’m talking NW London, not innercity LA. There was nothing frightening here.

    And then the spring and the summer came and I learnt to love the house and coming home every night feels like a haven and even though the builders are in and we are crammed into the top floor surrounded by furniture and my clothes and books are scattered across my parents’ house, my sisters and my in-laws, it does feel like home. I didn’t believe it when people told me that moving house was considered as stressful as divorce, but I do now.

    Bit of an epic comment just to encourage you to hold on, because liking the house will come and it may become love.

  8. Amanda M
    Posted September 16, 2013 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Dominique sounds amazing – she must have a seriously bright future ahead of her.

    And excuse me for being selfish but can I BUY your old home? It sounds amazing! Where is it? I hope though that you’re on here again soon writing about all the things you love about your new home.

  9. Posted September 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    Your cousin, and your relationship with her, sounds amazing. I am a wee bit jealous!

    I had that “it’s not home” feeling about my last flat. I’m not sure what it was – the location was great, it was huge, reasonably priced, period features, and the first time my boyfriend (J) and I would be living together. But I hated it. It all started badly because the letting agents were awful so we spent weeks battling for basic repairs to be done. Then it was winter, and it was so cold in the flat that frozen milk didn’t defrost on a windowsill. J didn’t get it. At all. The thing that frustrated me was that it was almost like he didn’t want to ‘get it’. J’s attitude was that “home is wherever he lives with me”. Which melts the heart, but didn’t make dealing with the feelings any easier! It wasn’t until we decided to move and I saw a photograph of my new flat online and thought “that’s the one” that it was ok again. Maybe it’s a gut feeling thing as well as a memories and sentimental thing?
    I’m not sure what the answer is – apart from spending time relaxing there rather than taking every opportunity to leave, having friends to stay, and accessorising/redecorating if you can – but you’re certainly not the only one!

  10. Posted September 16, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    After a year of being on the market we have just accepted an offer on our flat and I’m quite devastated. We are now trying to find a house and I’m getting so stressed ad upset by it so I don’t think you are overreacting AT ALL!!

  11. Posted September 16, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Oh god, housing sagas and moving – hate it all. It took two years to sell our house and we’re happy to get shot, but it wasn’t until we started packing that I suddenly felt like ‘but why are we moving, this is our home’ and on moving day I did get quite emotional. It still wasn’t right for us long term but we do have lovely memories from there. We’re renting at the moment and the place is so full of unforeseen issues that we’re desperate to find somewhere to call ‘home’ properly – this just doesn’t feel like ours.

    I love these ‘snippets of life’ posts :-)

  12. Posted September 16, 2013 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I’m terrified of moving again. Actually terrified. But your last sentence made me actually cry. So I reckon you have a good chance xx

  13. Posted September 16, 2013 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

    We have only ever rented, so probably don’t have the same feelings of attachment as those of you who actually OWN the places where you live!

    I love the video of Stella, and the middle-of-the-night conversation between you and Anna!

    Your cousin sounds so fun and thoughtful, and it’s amazing that you see each other so often! We have recently been spending most Saturdays with Daniel’s parents, his twin brother and his wife and 2 young sons and his sister and her 3 children, and it’s so nice to see them all developing friendships, as well as being cousins!

  14. Posted September 17, 2013 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    You feelings about your house really struck a chord with me because that is exactly how I am starting to feel about my house. Except I am at the other end of the spectrum….I am ready to move on to pastures news but circumstances relating to work happening at our next door neighbours is delaying that. So far a year. I am hoping that next year I will be moving out of my stupid house (that I used to love) and into a brand spangling new one that I feel a little warmer towards.

    I hope your feelings towards your new abode warm up too :) xx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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