The couple on the lifestyle TV programme admired the lounge. “The only trouble is,” said the woman, “I don’t like the beams.”
The presenter tried to hide a splutter.
The beams are the whole point, thought Kath. That’s why you move to the country.
What would a Christmas tree look like in the lounge? Good, she thought.
The people on the television moved into the kitchen. Hmm. It had a range but no other means of cooking. Would they ever learn how to operate a monster like that? Did you have to have it on in summer and did it make the kitchen too hot? The kitchen was otherwise superb – plenty of cupboards, plenty of surfaces, an island and plenty of room for a table. There was a separate dining room too. Upstairs the two studies and spare bedroom she and Rob would need.
“It’s all a bit small,” said the woman on the television.
“Let’s go outside,” said the presenter.
The gardens were really pretty. Kath could see herself out there in the summer.
“Maybe there’s not quite enough land,” said the woman.
The woman and her husband didn’t agree on anything. The second house had the sea view they wanted but was too isolated. The third house had all the land but it sloped too much. The mystery house was a converted chapel. Kath loved the idea of chapel and barn conversions but this one left her cold. She couldn’t see Christmas with the family there. She couldn’t see lazy summer days outdoors.
No, her favourite was the very first one. The TV couple agreed in the end. They put in an offer that was accepted and they are due to move there soon. They are going to put in false ceilings to hide the beams. Madness.
Kath sighed. There was no way she could afford the amount they were going to pay. But what did she want really? If, say, she won the lottery?
Quaint or modern?
Seaside or country?
In the village or out in the wilds?
Home or abroad?
Huge, just big enough or warm and cosy?
No, she really couldn’t decide. No wonder the universe wouldn’t give her what she wanted – she didn’t know what that was.
It was getting dark. She drew the curtains and gave the pretty suburban street a last look. At least she couldn’t see another house exactly the same as theirs. The gardens were neat, the neighbours were quiet and through the upstairs window, if you looked between the houses opposite, you could see the snow-covered hills in the distance. There were some nice walks round here yet they were quite near to a major city.
Yes, the lounge was just big enough – there was room for the grand piano and it was easy to keep warm even on the coldest days. They each had a study. They could eat in the kitchen but had a more formal dining area as well. Maybe, then, she already had it. The ideal house.
She sighed again. What a bore. All the fun came in looking.