I live in the town where I grew up.
It's on the South coast of England, nestled at the foot of the South Downs, which is a ridge of rolling green hills. Only an hour or so from London, but quite honestly it's far from the madding crowd; think country idyll.
I write the blog 'Lou, Boos and Shoes' and that's all about my life; my children (two of them; aged nine and thirteen), the puppy (below), my husband (works hard, rugby-freak), my shopping habits and my thoughts, if you're interested.
Simone asked me to write about where I live and how I feel about it.
I have always been envious of those people who are not affected by their surroundings. I am very affected. Each time I enter a room I scan it, thinking of stuff that could be done.
I notice the light and feel of the room.
I surround myself with things I like; postcards and quotes and art. I try to keep it minimal and seem to be on an endless mission to clear it of family clutter.
But deep down the clutter means a busy life and that's surely a good thing, right?
I live in an old farmhouse; a half-converted higgledy-piggledy amalgamation of cottages that have been knocked together to make a whole. We are in the midst of building work at the moment, our architect affectionately calls our house an 'Aladdin's Cave'. Read: a labyrinth of rooms where you never quite know what you'll stumble upon. Rooms lead to rooms and ceilings are low, there are beams everywhere and the walls are not straight.
It's been standing for hundreds of years. Sometimes I muse on who has lived and died here; when we moved in ten years ago and then, an acquaintance who knew the locale said it might be haunted. But I can say, having spent nearly a decade here, that it's a good house.
And if there were spirits passing through, they have either moved on or are happy doing their own thing and don't disturb us.
I have lived in new houses and can, hands down, say that old houses are better for me.
They are more forgiving; less pristine.
But you have to embrace the nuances!
I grew up in this town and I married the boy next door (yes, really). I only left to go to University and after a mere term, I was deep in love and making fortnightly pilgrimages back to see my husband-to-be, who still lived here.
We have had our children here and are now bringing them up, stepping in the same footsteps that we took thirty years ago.
I recognise there is something rather insular about this and I am led to think of the quote from Kathleen Kelly in 'You've Got Mail' where she says:
'Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it or because I haven't been brave? So much I see reminds me of something I read in a book, when shouldn't it be the other way round?'
A digression: wasn't Nora Ephron an insightful writer?
That sentiment is absolutely how I feel about right now.
I love where I live and it is more 'me' than anything I can imagine; I know it so well and I have everything I love right here, from the fields to the beach and every happy memory of my youth.
But just lately, as I watch my teenage daughter hang out in town like I used to, I wonder - should we have left? Should we have been more brave?
It's tricky as you want to raise your kids in the best place possible and this place is pretty close to perfect.
But increasingly I think there is a big world out there and we're not really done exploring it.
There's time isn't there?!
At the nub of it all, we stay here because our family is here. And we made a family here. So for the time being 'here' is where it is at.
There is something lovely about truly knowing a place, about being an advocate for staying put.
For noticing the subtle changes over the years.
This is what makes a place home...