Monday, November 1, 2010

New house - with gates

On Wednesday, we took possession of our new house, after months of conveyance, and to some extent indecision on my part.  I was away this week but I've paid the price in ferrying carloads of 'stuff' today. We haven't moved in; we are migrating over the next week or so. But by next Saturday we should be fully installed. 

It's a lovely old house, bigger than our last, with a large mature garden, but not so big that that I’ll feel uncomfortable. We are very lucky, and of course the kids are excited and Jane is organising like a mad thing: cleaning and sorting and deciding on this and that and the other. I particularly like the shed, as does Dylan, the rest is incidental!

I'd forgotten what a hassle moving house can be: my lists of people to contact runs to three pages and that's just service providers and banks and the like. As for the expense, aaggghh! – in addition to the stealth tax called stamp duty, I seem to have paid out thousands and I can't see an end in sight. It had better be worth it, I moan to myself on bad days. Actually, I'm sure it will be.

In fact, now we've got the keys, only one thing is worrying me: the drive has iron gates!

Apart from their Gothic appearance, there is something about the psychology of an urban house with gates that mildly disturbs me. Let’s be honest, they have no practical function - they are not going to keep any undesirable out, and it's not as if we have cattle wandering over from the park. In fact they narrow the drive (which isn't so big as to justify gates in the first place) and I'll bet it won't be long before someone catches their car turning off the road. 

So what's the point of them? 

I worry their real purpose is to make a statement. Gates in an urban setting don’t say ‘WELCOME!’; they say 'grand' or 'keep out' or 'prat lives here' or 'don't bother trick or treating’ or ‘I’m scared of you’.  None of which I'd want people to think about me or where I live. And yet at least one current neighbour has already commented – in jest of course, but I suspect with hidden meaning.

So I’m for getting shot of them.  Sadly, I won't win this argument. The gates are regarded as an original feature, and as such have iconic status in the eyes of estate agents, putting ‘value' on the house. I shall, however, in my curmudgeonly way, refuse to use them, and perhaps find ways to jolly them up for the occasional blog post photograph.

For the real value in a house, is the quality of the living that takes place there.  And because of that I’m praying there is no inverse relationship between size and happiness.  We’ve outgrown our current home, but in the fourteen years we been here, we’ve had more joy and good fortune than I could have wished for.  I am moving a little over a mile and yet I shall miss this place; the walk to school, my tiny study, the oversize bike shed, and the absence of gates…


  1. Hi Mark,
    I hope that the rest of your move goes well and that your new home will prove to be all that you wish it to be.

  2. Funny thing is, MArk we are having a similar debate. Our gates are wrought iron and of no particular character in my eyes. They tend to say "keep away" and arent very friendly. They wouldnt keep anyone from climbing over the wall, but they do stop the dogs from wandering into the road when we are out front.
    If we remove them completely but retain the wall and gates posts, will it look like a smile with a missing tooth?

  3. Hope you are all very happy in your new home! I wish we had gates :)

  4. LOVE the gates. Well what I can see of 'em that is.
    Hope you have lots of luck with your new house.

  5. It's a daft idea but you could always try painting the gates in rainbow patterns to make them more fun and welcoming... though not sure how that would fit in with your locale...!

  6. Now you see, I would love to have gates, rather than a driveway that is open to misuse... like prats stuck in traffic before the bypass opened, who used to use it to turn around in. That really had me with a head of steam building up I can tell you! I know the trend is not to have gates unless you are a Rooney or Beckham and such like, but to me they give a feeling of privacy, of 'this is my land, keep off'. Don't care really if they also signify 'prat lives here' and so on, don't much care what folk think of me.
    Yours look a bit industrial, because of the colour I suspect, and I would have to paint them something more cheery, so that they looked sort of inviting at the same time as saying 'keep out'!!
    Good luck in the new home... I think no matter how many times you move, there are always those moments of doubt about having made the right decision, times when you suddenly realise all the good things about the house you are leaving and in the process often forgetting why you were leaving. It's an exciting time though.

  7. Good luck in your new home...enjoy the shed!

    Our new place doesn't have gates...and after years of living behind them I rather miss them, even if only for the warning crunching noise that tells you a visitor is arriving.

  8. I hope you enjoy your new home just as much as your old one. We have gates of the agricultural metal variety, nothing like as grand as yours but they do keep the cows out when our neighbour moves them!

  9. Best of luck with the move Mark. I used to live in a house with a shared drive - the other users insisted we keep the gates shut. Such a pain stopping, getting out of car, opening gate, back in, driving through, stopping, out of car, shutting gate, driving round to our house.... I do miss that house though - in a village. Nothing opposite but woodland and heath. Bliss. Sorry I haven't been around for a while. Must pop back and see how the move goes!