Alas! After 20 years of living in “paradise” my landlady died and I had to move. The chocolate-box cottage backing onto a nature reserve gave me all I needed: studio, office, venue, group meeting areas, family accommodation, a spare room sublet to a friend, and neighbours we loved.
Very sad to leave one of the most beautiful places on the planet: views of woodland in one direction and the spires of Oxford in the other. It’s somebody else’s turn to enjoy it now.
The next step was hard: Oxford rents had gone through the roof, but house prices had become more affordable … but being self-employed meant a mortgage was impossible. Conveniently my little computer business that paid the bills suddenly collapsed so I got the first job I could find [as a software developer, which I swore in 1989 I’d never do again] and we could get a mortgage [which I also swore in 1989 I’d never do again].
Now I could move in with my new partner, but since she worked in Coventry it meant leaving Oxford entirely. There were further huge challenges: bringing together my kids – freshly traumatised from family breakup and leaving behind their beloved home – with my partner’s son – also traumatised for similar reasons – was hard. The new job plus commute added to the complications, while fixing the house absorbed the rest of our time.
The new place is not so beautiful but is far more practical, but most importantly (once we’ve paid off the mortgage in 16 years time) it’s ours!
But we’ve done it! 4 years later we have converted the garage to a studio and two of the kids have grown up and left home. Next task: build an exhibition space in the garden to show whatever I do next.
We had great fun with this mosaic in the fireplace. 250 person-hours and 40,000 tiles!