In retrospect I had what I now consider to be a Sunday Supplement life. We lived in a farmhouse and bred horses, kept chickens and photos of me as a child mostly feature wellies and Barbour wax jackets. My brother and I ran pretty wild before being poured into nice clothes to visit beautiful properties with quantities of dogs that put our three to shame and where eccentric owners wore family jewels against family jumpers (think the stuff Oxfam would throw out) and our parents would examine stallions while we played with stable kittens.
As a teenager I hated it (something my mother wryly points out as I salvate over obscure rural Cotswold properties). It felt horribly isolating and I was jealous of my friends in their suburban homes close to pubs and peers. I was thrilled to head off to university (arguably one of the few for whom Durham seemed big city) and felt one of the greatest rushes of my life when I first let myself into my apartment in Kuala Lumpur. I stood gazing out of my window at the Petronas Towers and felt I’d made it.
I won’t lie. Kuala Lumpur is an amazing city. At New Year I decided not to go to any parties but instead to stay on the roof of my building and watch all the fireworks. It was magical and in true daydream life fashion, a group of charming men insisted I join their party. They dug out a bottle of red wine and took it in turns to play my favourite songs on Guitar Hero.
The funny thing about achieving my fantasy life however was that almost immediately my dreams changed. When I realised that with the right attitude you can achieve anything, I started thinking about what I really wanted. I loved my life, no doubt, but as a temporary thing. I wasn’t about to hang up my dancing shoes but nor did I want to take the only logical conclusion I could imagine of expat wife who wrote the odd piece for expat magazines about expat charity functions.
Part of my move to Gloucestershire was the offer of a relationship with the now fiancé but it was also partly a desire to pursue the life I had decided I wanted; a house with a garden and me baking while he mowed the lawn with the children. He was the one but I hadn’t really given the others a chance.
An early retired (which sounds FAR older than he was) English property developer bored with Thai women had offered his home to share in exchange for a proper girlfriend with a blind eye to dalliances. It struck me that I had a value in the Far East. I was educated and interesting; I was good girlfriend material for rich Westerners with business and social functions to attend. I sat, looking at the beautiful pool and reflected on the offer. It was a stunning property and I would essentially be a kept woman with complete freedom. But my thanks but ultimate refusal were based in a realisation that I wanted to recreate what my parents had had. Screw the James Bond House (the snob in me found it a little naff anyway), I wanted to keep chickens!
I want it Liz Hurley style of course (I’m not giving up the shoes any time soon) and lets just say it was convenient that when I first visited the fiancé it meant kicking up leaves as we walked through Cheltenham. I want a house with character where I float about in cashmere cooking up canapés while casually tossing seasoned wood we cut the previous autumn onto the open fire. I’m all about the Sunday Supplement lifestyle.
Even as I know it’s a myth (having had the Aga and formal dining room and knowing it’s the people you live with that count), the draw to the perfect life is utterly enticing. I pause, biting my lip and letting out tiny groans as I pore over Cotswold Life. I can’t help but believe that if I blow dry my hair properly and make my own canapés from a Smallbone style kitchen then I won’t find my job stressful, my partner irritating and the children demanding. Sunday Supplement wife is always serene and happy.
I have some vital elements. I make very good pastry for instance. I’m also very patient with children and animals so standing in the drizzle calling the chickens to coop isn’t a problem (I do it happily at work and there I don’t get eggs). Perhaps the appeal of the Sunday Supplement life is that this dream life around it complements who I really am. Sure I pulled off the partygirl facade for a while but it got a bit tedious with all the toenail painting. Sunday Supplement life calls for cosy socks and Hunter wellies with cups of tea.
At any rate, I’m convinced it is my destiny. So I shall hunt through the property pages and dream of raising my own pigs. I know it’ll happen because I’m that kind of girl. The question is whether upon achieving it, I’ll be happy...