Houses as Homes


And hating it.

My phone calls to the dozens of agents I harangue regularly – for regularly read hourly – have deteriorated from polite, positive enquiry to needy wheedling. ‘I don’t need chichi and I don’t object to avocado bathroom suites but I DO need space’. Space often comes in a house that’s been built to max out on footprint extinguishing any chance of foliage. ‘Where’s the garden?’ I ask and the agent points, bemused, ‘There’, he says gesturing the proverbial pocket handkerchief, dainty ladies dimensions not proper spilling over the edge man-sized.

I have seen a dozen houses so far. Of those the two that might work are flawed because the owners aren’t sure how long they want to rent for – and I don’t want to be doing this again in nine months, or because they’re asking for too much money. ‘$ 4 500 dollars a month’, announces the agent, ‘exclusive of utilities and security’, and I swallow and grimace a grin whilst inside I’m squealing with outraged indignation, ‘4 and an effing half thousand dollars?!’ And all because it has twin square hand basins in the master bathroom and faux granite on the kitchen counters. I wash my hands perfectly well in a regular shaped wash basin even if I have to share it with Husband, and even faux granite isn’t going to improve my culinary skills.

My last home was a great big spilling beach house where rooms gathered and huddled and held hands as one led into another under the vast awning of a cathedral-proportioned makuti roof which I watched the fundis thread to casuarina poles with endless bales of sisal twine, tipping my head back and shielding my eyes from the sun. The windows were shuttered with hardwood, I could see the ocean from the kitchen (where the counter tops were cement), the sitting room, the verandah, my desk and my bedroom. The only place I couldn’t’ enjoy that glorious ever changing vista from – which morphed from grey seas upon which Omo white horses danced to aquamarine mirror-smooth flecked with sea-green glass – was the bathroom from which the single conventional basin spat a little squirt of brackish water with which I washed my hands perfectly well.

19 Responses to “Houses as Homes”

  1. the headmaster's handbag Says:

    I’m so pleased you are back! I’m sure you get lots of these nominations but I couldn’t do a list without you being on it. So here goes….

    I’ve nominated you for the “One Lovely Blogger Award”.
    I read many stories, blogs on WordPress, many I find motivating and inspiring, others insightful, plenty that I get a good laugh out of, and many showcasing their part of the world through photography.
    I certainly enjoy reading yours.

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      Thank you handbag! I am delighted to accept the award and shall set to this next week when Husband returns to the busyness of a job and I to the ghastliness of house hunting. And very good luck in your new home, Kenya born and bred I certainly miss it.

  2. Kit Says:

    Good luck – I hope you find an imperfect but spacious home soon, with garden.

  3. Caroline Blumer Says:

    Pole, Anthea! Tried calling you the other day and got Arty! Will mail you soon. Wanted to catch up, so read your blog. Wonderful reading, as always….. Big love xxx

  4. janelle Says:

    ah POLE SANA anthea!!! have you met gillie or jake yet?? sending love and hope the house hunting improves…its SHIT doing it in a new place because you don’t know where or anything…GOOD LUCK..thinking so much of you. love always xxx

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      aaahh Janelle, thank you. and how are you on your return from boarding school. it’s easier for him, remember that, oddly it helps. yes, I’ve met gillie and jake and they have been hugely helpful and kind and patient with my interminable questions. onwards and upwards but pls not to a complex 🙂 x

  5. Kimm X Jayne Says:

    We\’re moving out of our home with fruit trees I\’ve nursed back to health (including 3 lime, 2 meyer lemon and 2 kaffir lime trees I planted myself and are JUST beginning to bear fruit) plus a raised bed garden with okay soil (I keep making compost and amending the beds, they still have a ways to go). If you email me (I can’t for the life of me figure out how to email you on this blog) then I can let you know how much it rents for. Good luck!

  6. Jackie Says:

    Pole sana ! Hope you find a home (as opposed to just a house!) soon! Good luck. xxx

  7. Chiara Says:

    Oh I sympathise! I’ve just been through that – rejecting houses on the presence of ‘water features’ with manic giant swan in the corner but mostly on the lack of garden as the house fills the plot! Now on a cinnamon plantation :-)). Good Luck, something ideal will turn up.

  8. reluctantmemsahib Says:

    how lovely to hear from you. and a cinnamon plantation sounds heavenly. so with you on the water features 😦 x

  9. Family Affairs Says:

    Are you now in Lusaka??? Just trying to piece it together – if so very cross as just literally come back from Zambia and it would have been great to meet up Lx

    • reluctantmemsahib Says:

      I am. In Lusaka. Got here beginning of September. Flailing trying to find feet. A friendly face – albeit one in the ether – would have been lovely. So sorry I missed you ax

  10. Addy Says:

    Hope you find what you’re looking for soon. It seems estate agents are the same the world over. I’m surprised there are granite worktops in Zambia. I’d want something far more ethnic, if I’m going to live there …. it nsomehow wouldn’t seem right with granite.

  11. nuttycow (@nuttycow) Says:

    Welcome back RM and good luck with the house hunt. It takes time but I have no doubt that you’ll find somewhere near fabulous and make it into a home within no time.

    Hope the family are all well.


  12. Leaving Home | Reluctant Memsahib Says:

    […] of such disparity it was small wonder one made me feel at home, one didn’t; the first an austere town house with high ceilings and an unseemly proportion of chrome to wood, ‘this isn’t you, it it’, […]

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