It’s one of those weeks when I’m out, about and away and obsessively in search of free wifi because the data roaming is firmly off.
Which means it’s a week of living on my wits blog-wise: Limited editing and battery charging facilities, room for only one image upload and no time to write.
So for today I decided to point the phone out through the front windscreen and seek inspiration from the heavens. A blue sky moment.
We were driving through a pleasant leafy North London suburb en route to more exciting places. A very pleasant road indeed with attractive houses set in spacious plots. It’s been a familiar route over the years and I’ve got used to seeing my ‘favourite’ houses, and admiring the quintessentially middle-class English pre-war architecture.
This morning though I became aware that major changes have taken place in recent years. Some of the beautiful houses are no more. They have been replaced by ostentatious larger dwellings displaying a great deal of money and little consideration for the vernacular. I wondered what makes someone want to buy a lovely old house with character, only to tear it down and build a soulless monstrosity to gain a bit more space?
This is the extreme luxury version of the mad extension and rebuilding boom which has overtaken the urban landscape in recent years. It reflects a universal truth of 21st century life in the UK: no dwelling, however big, is big enough.
I’m not immune from this. We’ve indulged in various additions to our house over the decades, but I’ve had many moments when I’ve seriously questioned the point of all the additional space. In our family at least, it just seems to encourage us all to keep as much clutter as possible. It’s a vicious circle of materialistic excess.
I find it funny how dwelling expectations have changed so much. In the small village community where I grew up, everyone I knew lived in a three bedroom house, however many children in the family. I think this was probably the case in most places in those days. In my family, my sisters and I for many years slept in one room so we could have the benefit of using the third room as a playroom. No child expected to have a room to themselves; nobody built extensions; and four bedroom houses were very rare. The post-war generation of my parents was probably just grateful to have a safe and watertight roof over its head.
This aspirational drive is very human, but I do wonder whether it’s always a positive force for good. A survey I read about a few months ago questioned people about their financial aspirations, and what was very interesting was that however much an individual earned, it was never quite enough. Even earning over £100k annually was never enough. Not that people necessarily wanted a fortune; for those on less than £20k a year, £30k would be a wonderful salary. But you do have to wonder at the top end of the scale why no one was entirely satisfied.
Houses, money, WordPress statistics: it takes determination to keep things in perspective and practice contentment with what one has. I can recall my excitement the day I had the first visitor to my blog. The excitement the first day someone linked to it on Facebook and I had 35 visitors. The first time an influential blogger mentioned me and I had 165 visitors. The first time I was Freshly Pressed and saw 633 visitors in a single day. And now this last week where I have seen 1700 daily hits or more for the last four days. But I shall not forget the excitement I when I learned just one person had found and read my blog, and I shall endeavour to keep a firm sense of perspective and contentment as and when the daily stats settle!!