I've lived in four different properties in my 34 years, but up until August 20th last year only one of them was 'home': the house that was my childhood home.
My parents' old house was the home that I was welcomed into by my elder siblings when I was brought home from the hospital at a few weeks old. The four-bedroomed Victorian property was quite large and suited the six of us well. With my eldest brother being twelve years older than me, there was a hierarchy of bedrooms as and when people moved out. Eventually I had the prize possession: the room with the balcony down to the garden, with the original coving, picture rails and skirting (from 1889) and the huge wall of windows looking out onto the garden.
I moved out of that house when I was 23, the day after I found out the results from my degree. My (then) fiancé whisked me away up to Reading to start our new life, and four months later we were married. Our first home was a two-bedroom rented flat which was lovely and spacious. After being there a year, we bought a three-bedroom ex-council house nearby which was cwtchy and we were both very fond of.
However, the yearning for my home-town was kicking in and I was getting more emotional each time we had to leave my parents' house after visiting them. We took the decision to move and start again back here, in the town that I grew up in with friends and family nearby. Three years almost to the day after I left, we moved back into my parents' house, this time with the contents of our three-bedroomed house.
It was hard-work living back with my parents after three years of independence and 'growing up' but I'm so grateful to them for giving us the opportunity to stay rent-free for a year and a half while we set up our new house. We've owned this place now for nearly seven years and have lived in it for six years. However, it wasn't until my parents moved out of my childhood home last year that this really became 'home'.
My parents' house held many happy memories for me over the years, some not so great, but the vast majority were magical. I could look at any room, any square foot and a wealth of memories would come flooding back to me: play-fights, real fights, birthday parties, Christmases, etc.
These photos were taken on the day that my parents moved out. I was the last person to leave and shut the front door, and I sobbed.
What I've realised since is what so many others may know; home is not a building, it's the love that is shared and memories that are made within.
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