All right, now I know!
For some time I have been turning over and over in my mind the kind of place I would like to live, and at last it has all fallen into place.
I should explain that this depends on my books suddenly and inexplicably becoming best-sellers and making me two million pounds minimum.
This is my plan (contingent upon that eventuality).
I intend to purchase a (very) large estate with woodlands and streams, near a main road.
As far as possible from the main road my dwelling will be constructed. That will be a very small brick-built house, just big enough for a door with a window either side. Inside will be a big ingle-nook fireplace, a bed built with 2 drawers underneath, a small hutch for my food and utensils, my chest of drawers and bookshelves, an armchair for guests, and my nightstand. I will have a lean-to shed for firewood, and collect rainwater from the roof (which will be slate with a solar panel to charge my phone and computer). I will have a standpipe for drinking water. No gas, no mains electricity, no mains water.
Around my little house I will have a walled garden with a henhouse big enough for three hens free to roam in the walled garden, an orchard of trees, meadow flowers and lots and lots of herbs. I will grow wild roses and honeysuckle against the wall.
A mile or so away on my estate will be the cottages of my workmen. They will be my ostler/farrier, my game-keeper, my wheelwright, my gardener, my woodsman, my farmer, my general handyman and my shop manager.
There will be no public roads running through my estate, which will include woodland and open meadows for my goats and cows.
On the border between one of the meadows and woods will be Hebe’s cob house that she built for herself, with a green (living) roof, and a well.
Everyone else in my family will live nearby too, in dwellings of their choice – but NO CARS are allowed on my estate. Anyone with a car will have to live on the border near the main road, and park their car in the car-park, bordered with stout wooden bollards, near the main entrance. The Badger will have a large grand house with its own sweeping driveway onto the road, with plenty of garaging for his cars – a classic car, a Toyota Prius, a very fast sports car and anything else he fancies. He will have his own garden with the kind of weird trees he likes – tall thin conifers, eucalyptus etc – and a simply enormous fishpond. He can have his own cook and butler and housekeeper. I will pay their wages for him.
Needless to say, Alice and Hebe will have a range of studios for their work, and a special stoneyard with all the right equipment. And there will be a playpark with swings and a slide, a climbing frame, a roundabout, a paddling pool and a small boating lake for the Wretched Wretch’s special pleasure.
At the estate entrance will be situated a general grocery store selling organic, ethically sourced, earth-friendly, socially just, minimally packaged, healthy, traditionally made products sourced from small independent family businesses within a 250 mile radius of the estate. All my shopping will come from there, and this is how I will get it: –
On my estate, as well as a large market garden and a small farm for hay, grain, sheep, cows and goats, will be a large pasture with big shady trees and a field shelter for my Percheron horse and companion donkey. The horse will be helpful for hauling firewood and also for pulling my personal transport, a simple cart/trap with bench seats, big enough to seat six to eight people.
A couple of times a week, the horseman will get it ready and come by my house to collect me to go to the shop at the estate entrance for my groceries. The estate will be traversed by a winding road that goes all over it, past the farm and all the fields and the market garden, past the homes of my family members. Because it winds back and forth all round the estate, the road will be about six miles long, and it will take about an hour and a half for me to ride along it in my horse-drawn cart all the way from my house at one end to the shop at the other end, once you count in all the stops at the houses where the people inside will be dashing about getting a basket ready to drive to the shop.
And so I will live out my days in happiness and peace, writing wonderful novels, with no street lights at night only the stars. I will have long skirts with large pockets, and a big shady straw hat, and large floppy jumpers I make from the yarn have spun from the fleece of my sheep.
A really excellent camping toilet of the bucket variety. Useful and practical.
I preferred something that would tuck away, and also I didn’t really like the shade of grey, and I am not a big fan of plastic.
So my own system now looks like this – with feline approval!