We live in a three-bedroom house, Dom and I. But honestly, two people have no need for that many rooms. It’s a perk, having an ironing room and a big study, but it’s not essential. Especially not when you’re living in rural Northamptonshire, with far fewer risks of house parties and zero chance of friends popping round for a cuppa.
But still, we have a three bedroomed house with its own downstairs loo. We’ve filled our home with mismatching furniture, cushions and fairy lights and it is, to all intents and purposes, as cosy as could be. But there is one thing missing – I’ve only realised it now – and that thing is people.
On Friday we welcomed eight friends through our door. They came bearing gifts of wine, sticky toffee pudding and mountains of bedding. We stayed up until the wee hours, eating cheese and drinking champagne. Then when it was finally time to go to bed, two couples slept in the living room beside the twinkling Christmas tree. Our house wasn’t so empty anymore.
The weekend continued in the same theme. A pub lunch, charades, a movie, mulled wine, and then a meal of rich beef stew and colcannon – everybody packed round our table like sardines, sharing the joys and the sadnesses of 2016.
Espresso martinis and Balderdash followed. At three in the morning there was a tussle over a mattress topper, and at five am two of the party ventured on a late night walk – in the end, they almost vaulted over the neighbour’s fence because they couldn’t find our gate. On Sunday, feeling slightly worse for wear, we trooped out for a walk in the countryside, all 10 of us laughing our way through the sleepy village.
But a flurry of goodbyes later and everyone was gone. The house seemed to exhale, that deep heavy exhale that only comes at the end of raucous gatherings.
And suddenly it was just us two, alone in a three bedroom house.
Oh well, at least we get our ironing room back.