When I was eight we shifted to Spain, but my parents kept the UK house and rented it out. In 1983 we moved back in for six months, before selling up and shifting to Australia.
Anyway, ten minutes ago I happened to be browsing UK real estate - something I do perhaps once every couple of years, purely for nostalgic reasons - when I spotted our old house on the market:
An interesting fact: Before my parents bought this house it belonged to an english actress who - I believe - appeared in one of the early Bond movies. I remember my dad mentioning it in the 70's, so I'll have to ask him who it was next time I see him.
My dad laid that curved driveway, and there used to be neat box hedges below the ground floor windows. I distinctly remember water-bombing my best mate's sister through those windows above the entrance, and I also remember sitting at the window top-right at around 5AM in December 1981. We'd just arrived in England after a 3-day drive from Spain, via France and Andorra, and I was listening to english voices on my brand new walkman clone - in stereo, no less - whilst the smell of hot paint wafted up from the radiator burning my knees. Outside, yellow streetlight glistened off the rain-speckled windscreens of cars parked in the road below. Everything was different and yet familiar: I was used to the heat of Spain, spanish radio, marble floors instead of carpets, single storey whitewashed houses with thick walls, sun-warped wooden window frames and elaborate metal grilles instead of mock-tudor and small panes of glass in steel frames. And yet, I'd grown up in the UK, in that house, and so I was home.
If you think those two conflicting lives were confusing enough, throw in 20+ years living in Australia. It's hot, but we have carpets. Window frames are aluminium. Winter is in July, Summer in December. They speak English but the architecture and weather is mediterranean.
I only hope my kids are storing their own special memories of our current house.
Back to West Wickham: at UKP679,000 (Approx A$1.6m or US$1.26m), the old house is selling for almost ten times the price we sold it for in '83, and exactly 68 times what my parents paid for it in 1969/70.
Update: Found some old pics my parents took in the early 70's:
This one is July 1971, 12 months after moving in.
Same day, right hand side of the house. That's me in the white jumper and Paul Mycroft in blue. I was almost four years old in that shot.
My dad's Mustang out the front (no driveway, see?)
12 months earlier - 1970, same house as purchased.
Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)