Sunday, 5 February 2012

Trying too hard....and failing?

Yesterday afternoon, before we got blanketed in snow, I went for a walk to one of the our towns newer areas. Even though we're officially classified as a New Town, we have had continued expansion and the area I walked to yesterday is actually mid-construction at the moment. It's very "designed" with lots of concepts - and a great focus on eco-credentials and sustainability - the word "community" is used throughout the blurb about the place, but do you know, I think they've missed the mark. Sure, there are lots of houses that look very "different" - with bar-code styling and designed printed panels forming a porch for the front door, but underneath all that, these homes which are supposed to be so "different" are still exactly the same as the one next door...

The Ecological side too - I'm sure the houses are all triple insulated, solar paneled etc, but what good is that when, to go and buy a pint of milk, you have to get in your car? Throughout the hour or so I was wandering round, I saw just three people on foot - and one of those was simply standing outside his house waiting for his dog to do it's 'business' as it were.  This leads on nicely to the question of community. As we live in a flat here, we have 7 close neighbours. we know six of those households by name (the other have only moved in very recently) and consider three of them to be friends. This morning, four of us were out with snow shovels and ice scrapers clearing snow off roads, paths and cars. I suspect that this was not happening where I was yesterday! There was no feeling that any sort of community existed there at all...

Something we've been talking about recently in a group I'm part of is the question of whether you buy a home to live in, or whether there is always some form of investment there - whether, in fact, you should buy the home you know will make you money over the one which makes your heart lift. I feel, and always have, that first and foremost you have to be happy where you have chosen to live. A close family member of mine described once the sinking feeling of having bought a house for the wrong reasons - "I knew the day we moved in it was wrong" she told me "but by then it was already too late" She went on to live there for more than 20 years - it may have made them money, but she would have given that profit up in a heartbeat I suspect to have lived somewhere else for all that time. When we were looking to buy here we viewed two seemingly identical flats. The first we hated, this one we loved. The first was probably, on paper, the more sensible buy, but to have bought that, knowing that just two doors away someone else was living in "our" flat, would have been unthinkable. 

Sp - people who's homes I was walking past yesterday - you can keep your designer houses - mine might be a bit draughty, slightly damp, and expensive to heat, but at least I can walk 5 minutes along the road to buy a pint of milk!


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