Real life

Am I moving to the Cotswolds? Don't measure the curtains yet

A lovely little house near Chipping Norton seems less attractive once you've accepted an offer on your flat

29 August 2015

9:00 AM

29 August 2015

9:00 AM

On the basis that I might need a new boiler soon, I thought I had better sell the London flat and move to the Cotswolds.

Fine, so it wasn’t just the gurgling noise coming from the Potterton Performa. I had been pondering my place in the world, which is never a good thing for a person of my nervous disposition to do. The break-up with the builder boyfriend; the escalating cost of keeping three horses in Surrey; the liberal leftie south London neighbours regaling me every time I leave my house with the words ‘Isn’t Jeremy Corbyn wonderful?’ — it was all making me feel perfectly unstable, as if a big move was the only thing for it.

I can’t be doing with this madness, I thought. I need to sell up and go somewhere quieter, saner and less expensive. Somewhere I might be master of my destiny, with my horses on my own land and my nearest neighbours not spouting their devotion to a bearded Trot who wants to take Britain back to 1975.

So I went on Rightmove and a few taps later there it was: a lovely little house with five acres and stables in the Cotswolds. I keep typing Cotsworlds, by the way. And that may be Freudian in what it reveals about my motives for retreating to a corner of Oxfordshire where no one might ever find me again.

Also, the place was in David Cameron’s constituency, which I profoundly believed would mean that no one could put a high speed railway past me nor dump 2,500 houses down next to me, two things which are happening respectively where my parents live in Warwickshire and where I keep my horses in Surrey. Surely, a few miles from the PM’s constituency home I would be about as safe as I could be anywhere because I’m fairly sure all governments are NITPMBYs — Not In The Prime Minister’s Back Yard. Nor in the Chancellor’s, actually, which is why HS2 will be made to loop awkwardly around George Osborne’s constituency. But that’s another story.

Yes, this was genius. I will be safe as, well, farmhouses, living a few miles from Dave’s manor near Chipping Norton — or, as the locals call it, charmingly enough, Chippy.

I went to see the farmhouse, convinced myself that every aspect of it was beyond perfect, and concluded that while it was remote, it would do just fine. I instructed an estate agent in Balham to put my place on the market.

Two days after making this decision, my flat was ‘under offer’ at very near the asking price, and I was about as sure as anyone can be that I didn’t want to move out of London after all — not even, or possibly especially not to, Chippy. There’s nothing wrong with Chippy, per se, I don’t think. Well, there might be. I just can’t put my finger on it. I didn’t really look round carefully enough to find out because the place was so pretty it scared me.

The real problem was the second viewing of the farm that took place a week later. I didn’t like it. What I had seen before as charming — fields, outbuildings, barns, septic tank, oil-fired radiators, I now saw as the stuff of nightmares.

Annoyingly, by then, I had been badgered into accepting an offer from a couple who had fallen in love with my flat.

‘They need your answer by 10 a.m. Friday,’ said the agent. ‘Why? It’s nearly Thursday now. Can’t I think about it and give them my answer on Monday, after I’ve been to see the farm again on Saturday?’

‘No. Because they’re going on holiday Saturday morning. They need to know now.’

I stood my ground for a day and then at 9.58 a.m. on Friday I gave in. ‘Go on then. But only on the strict understanding that if the second viewing of the place I want to buy goes wrong tomorrow then this is going to fall through.’

That was fine, the agent assured me.

On Monday, however, I didn’t get the chance to report that I had got cold feet about cold comfort farm before the agent rang to declare: ‘The buyers want to come round this evening to measure up for curtains.’

And as she said this, a mess of leaflets from three removal firms fluttered onto my doormat because, naturally, as well as inventing an impending holiday, the agent had sold my details to every man with a van.

‘Right, that’s it. I’m not selling.’

‘But they’re good buyers.’

‘I don’t care if they’re Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. You can tell them they don’t need to measure my windows for their curtains because I’ve had a change of plan.’

Instead of moving to Chipping Norton, I’m going to call British Gas and get the boiler serviced.

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  • Frank Marker

    Horses schmorzes! Oh Melissa old darling, live does hurl some unsurmountable problems at you doesn’t it? I wouldn’t go to either county if I were you. Both of them are full of ghastly people and the Cheltenham Promenade is more like Chelsea these days, all awful designer shops and scented candle emporiums. Have you considered Teeside?

    • ViolinSonaten b minor.

      Teeside ? I nearly regurgitated my Darjeeling, good grief.
      Although I agree with you in regards to Cheltenham and the mustard and
      rust corduroy trousers worn with green hunters– so twee.
      If Melissa were to live somewhere like Pickwick she’d find it a lot more
      amenable. Although not a huge fan of Gloucestershire myself to be honest.
      I’d recommend the Dorset coast nr Corfe Castle and Herefordshire as the
      Welsh / English borders are quite stunning too.

      • Frank Marker

        Whoops! My most humble apologies ViolinSonaten b minor. Mmm, could I possibly call you Vi for short?

        Yes Herefordshire is nice as is nearby Worcestershire, especially the Malvern Hills. I can almost hear Mr Elgar’s Cello Concerto as I dreamily think of them.

        • ViolinSonaten b minor.

          Oh you’re quite excused and yes go ahead and call me Vi. Its a
          heaping mouthful otherwise – couldn’t decide between English or Austrian spelling.
          Ah and Worchester- I’m minded of Stratford and its arts and fine architecture. Shropshire must get a mention as well. Delightful Ludlow and Wenlock Edge- Melissa could take months to decide.
          Yes you must visit Corfe Castle- its very good for cycling and
          paragliding if you like adventurous holidays and of course there are the sea caves.

          • Frank Marker

            Ah those Blue Remembered Hills of Shropshire.
            You see Melissa you don’t really have to be confined by the Southern Lands. Of course there’s always horsey Leicestershire. I am sure you would find some excellent stabling up there for your horses.

          • Callipygian

            But: Go North, and unless you’re a multi-millionaire, you can never come (comfortably) south again.

        • jeremy Morfey

          Sir Edward actually wrote his Cello Concerto in Fittleworth, Sussex.

          He did write The Dream of Gerontius just outside Malvern though, impudently awaking the idea that people choose Malvern as a place to die, but actually live rather a long time there, which is why only Eastbourne has a higher average age.

        • Callipygian

          Frank: Corfe Castle is nice enough. I saw it because my grandparents gave me the tour of their adopted county, though originally they are from Bishop’s Stortford via Chingford. (Yes, the move out west while still young enough to enjoy was a good move. Harlow in particular makes one wonder ‘why’?)

          But it doesn’t inspire raptures. The more I see of elsewhere, the more I appreciate Sussex and western Kent.

      • Torybushhug

        How spooky. Last night I was pondering the places I’d most like to live and top of the list were the Welsh borders and near Wareham in Dorset. Corfe itself is too heaving with tourists for me. Also like the sandy pine forest areas around the Minsmere reserve in Suffolk, in particular Dunwich.

        I live in rural Herts and suffer London but once a year. Ghastly place.

        • Mary Ann

          The name of the village is Corfe Castle.

          • Y&B Stuart-Hargreaves

            As featured in Bedknobs abpnd Broomsticks.

          • ViolinSonaten b minor.

            What is ‘ Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ ?
            Another Harry Potter type creation for children.

          • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

            Bedknobs was a 1970s Disney musical adaptation of a Mary Norton book. It has Angela Lansbury in it. A group of kids who travel to a fantasy world by twiddling the knobs on the end of an old iron bedstead.
            Lansbury’s character lived in Corfe castle.

      • Yvonne Stuart-Hargreaves

        You mean Painswick. Laurie Lee country, near Jilly Cooper’s place.

        • ViolinSonaten b minor.

          Indeed I was. And not the Pickwick art gallery and pub nr
          Dursley ;-D

  • MrJones

    “nor dump 2,500 houses down next to me”

    The Euroviles are going to make sure no where is going to be safe so might as well stay put.

  • logdon

    orange (or is it red?) jeans

    Pink chino’s around here in Monmouthshire. Not many though.

    • Tamerlane


  • Callipygian

    Does a girl need three horses? Couldn’t you downsize to one? I don’t have any (sob). Just a swimming pool, a room full of pipes and wine (hubby’s obsessions), and the world’s loveliest dog.

    By the way, if you can afford the Cotswolds, what’s wrong with the Weald?

    • ViolinSonaten b minor.

      The Cotswolds are truly overrated, mainly because many period dramas
      are filmed there, delusions of grandeur in reality. I thought the people were
      awful too. Had an aunt who lived nr Hastings- Sussex but not the Weald
      which sounds beautiful.

  • Precambrian

    I wouldn’t move to the Cotswolds; too many nouveau riche behaving like chavs who won the lottery…

  • rtj1211

    Third rate journo living off builder freebies has a life crisis.

    Why is this of any interest to adults?

  • ViolinSonaten b minor.

    Also avoid anywhere where ‘ celebrities’ decide to live the Clooney’s are apparently running
    riot in Berkshire. They’ve created a ‘ cinema’ in a period house. And don’t appreciate an aga

  • Jackthesmilingblack

    Big house in the Cotswolds, land to park hundreds of cars, two-storey five-car garage, attics. Clarkson down the road. Been there, done that.
    The downside is that you do tend to make yourself a slave to the place.
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

    • Labour Mole Catcher

      How were [HMPs] Grendon and Grendon Hall (Spring Hill)?!

      • Jackthesmilingblack

        Terrible thing, envy. Turns an irrelevant non-entity into a disgusting loser consumed by feelings of inadequacy and guilt.

        • Labour Mole Catcher

          Mad fantasist dodging the green Fluoxetine …