The Wilderness


Isn’t it funny how life sometimes gives you what you need, not want you want, and then you realise that what you needed was actually what you wanted? Not in the way, you understand, that people say – “I told you so”, or –  “It’s for the best”. I mean when you really, really just find something out of the blue that you were in no way expecting, and then that thing leads onto many other things you dreamt of? I suppose it’s a bit like someone took all my carefully written out plans, tore them up into one hundred pieces, then taped them all back together again in a completely different, but better order.

This is exactly what happened just over a year ago, in spring. We had been looking for a house to buy in England after deciding not to move to France, and had set our sights on the north Cotswolds. We’d been looking for ever and visited a few ‘perhaps’ houses, but nothing that seemed to embrace us. Just when I was feeling completely deflated, Mr Nick rang me from work.

“I’ve found a house for us to look at”.

“Where is it?”

“South Northamptonshire”

I agreed to meet him and the agent there at 5pm, I wasn’t overly excited as I thought I’d seen all of Northamptonshire having lived here for nearly twenty years, but I was curious. I piled the children, and enough bananas to tide them over until dinner time into the car, and set off. Suddenly the roads became narrower, the countryside hillier and more dense with trees, I saw buzzards, I felt a twang of excitement. I turned the car right into the village, driving down a steep hill lined with ironstone cottages and ancient trees, then left to the church where I parked. A short walk later and we were there, looking up at a centuries old house, paintwork peeling and crumbly walls lined with hollyhocks about to burst into bloom. And I knew. Instantly.  This was going to be our house. The Wilderness.

But there were other people there. The agent had arranged a multiple viewing and I immediately knew from the feeling in my stomach that this was the house I could not lose. We made an offer the following day, and it was accepted. Over a year passed by, there were various legal problems which needed sorting out, but eventually, last month, we moved in.

Now a year in a small village is a long time, and while the house lay empty , waiting for our arrival, rumours had been swirling about who the new occupants would be. Village folk were watching for lights glowing from within once again, watching to see if any windows had been unlatched, different cars, some had heard it was to be a family, but how big, how many children? Within hours of our arrival there were welcome cards plopping through the letter box, flowers from gardens, boxes of eggs, suggestions for playgroups in the area, and an invite to the annual village ‘cook out’ where a rather impressive piece of beef was to be spit roasted outside our front door!

We’re still unpacking boxes, but we have the essential things in place, sort of. I’ve nested very well into my sewing room and have been busy planning a very exciting event that is to take place next month at a Chateau in France. I will be hosting a ‘Vintage Sewing Tea Party’ over two days. The theme is to be ‘Sugar Plum Chateau’ and I will be demonstrating how to make two mice, a boy and a girl, both ballet dancers, both decked out in shades of plum and silvery lilac. There will be cake, and lots of hot tea, there will be piles of antique french lace and reams of ribbon. There will be yards of Tulle in the softest grey and an array of extra accessories to sew or knit if you have extra time, such as mittens and hats, warm coats and scarves, anything a prima ballet dancer would need walking out of the stage door into the cold Parisian night. This particular course is full, but I am planning more events soon so feel free to contact me for details.

I must close now, as I have to design a pattern for a mousey cape, (these mousey ballet dancers only want the most up to date fashions), and there are a million things to organise for a Vintage Sewing Tea Party at a Chateau!


Erica x


Published by Erica

Stitcher of beautiful, handmade dolls and children's author and illustrator.

2 thoughts on “The Wilderness

  1. This sounds so dream like. I’m from the Arizona desert now living on the coast in Australia and your life sounds so different to mine! I loved reading this and getting a peek at your wildly different European life. I have the Hansel and Gretel book you illustrated and fell in love. You’re my favourite illustrator now, thank you for your work!

    1. Wow, I’ve never been to Australia but really want to visit one day, and the Arizona desert is a million miles away from my little life! I’m so pleased you have Hansel & Gretel, I loved illustrating that story so much. Thank-you for your lovely comment, come back soon! X

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