ok so the house is 400 years old, apart from that…

You’ve heard of two jags Prescott well I’m two mortgages Leonard. We bought our lovely house in Italy using some of my package from when I left BT, the rest on a second mortgage. The idea was to sell up here in the UK and live a life of bliss among our olive groves and doing consultancy few a few marvellously generous clients. It was a great plan and would have been if the house here in Buckingham had sold within a few months. But it’s been nearly 18 months now and it’s only recently that we’ve had a steady stream of visitors to view the place. Two mortgages are not a good idea when you choose to leave permanent employment…

Anyway, we’re mostly over here in the UK at present as we try and get this old house sold. Why’s it taken so long? Well for the first 6 months we were with an online agency but as you’ll know from an earlier posting it took us over 5 months to get our broadband line re-established in Italy, and we didn’t know from one day to the next during that time, how long it was going to take. So for most of the summer we were without our own connection and unable to check up on interest in the house. Not clever. We came back in late summer to put the house with some local estate agents in a head-to-head kind of situation which we thought might deliver quick results but it proved a disastrous mistake. One guy just disappeared off without anyone letting us know; the other lost interest when it hadn’t sold after a week’s trying. One of the young lads in the office (and that was the problem – they were all young blokes with no experience) called me up in Italy one day to ask how they should market the house. I kid you not. We then put it with someone with experience in selling older properties but we were already into late autumn and the chance had gone. So we’re with good local agents now and already we’ve had more people in a fortnight than came in the whole of the preceding 17 and a half months.

But no firm offers yet….

We live in a 400 year old cottage, it’s lovely but it’s quirky and charming in equal proportions. Maybe people don’t like that type of thing these days, I don’t know. But it’s minutes from our town centre yet we have a beautiful enclosed walled garden, which makes you think you’re in the heart of the countryside, that’s taken me 20 years to craft and re-build and establish.


We spend all our summer days out here. It’s been great for parties as there’s bags of space, spot lighting and it’s very private. In fact we’ve had lots of parties at the house: 18th and 21st do’s for the 3 girls, enagagements, one 30th (for daughter R – how old does that make you feel), our 40th’s and then 50th’s, post- wedding days, silver anniversaries and so on.

It’s been a lovely family home these last 20 years and we’d be sad to leave it but happy too as it’s time some else took on all this history now. Just think of the people who have lived here and what they have witnessed: the English civil war – were they Royalists or for Cromwell I wonder? They’ve seen the end of the Tudor period and the whole of the Stuarts and Hanoverian dynasties, through Vicortian times and so on. They’ve celebrated success in the war of Spanish succession, the battle of Trafalgar and the defeat of Napoleon. They’ve witnessed the loss of the American colonies, the massacre at Khartoum but the building of the greatest empire the world has ever seen. And they’ve seen it rightly disappear in the last 100 years. They’ve witnessed Marlborough build his fabulous Blenheim palace near Oxford and also the home of the madcap Dukes of Buckinham (now Stowe school) just down the road – maybe they even worked on it. The famous mile ride from the house is a direct line with the Buckingham family’s town house which was of course Buckingham palace.

All that history which somebody can inherit from us. And if you like old things in a house we’ve got ’em folks -it’s grade II listed, with tons of exposed beams (decorating’s fun!), old terracotta floors, squeaky wooden flooring upstairs, small cottagey rooms but lots of them.


That said all the wiring and plumbing and central heating’s all contemporary. And we’ll throw in a rayburn which runs everything and is so forgiving as a cooker that even I have learned to cook on it – and whisper it quietly but I’m pretty bloody good at it too.


Our kids and grandkids have all loved being brought up here, their friends still come back and see us now as the house featured so strongly in their upbringing too. Our friends have long since forgiven the house’s quirks and foibles and spent many happy weekends with us. So come on folks if you know of someone who might be interested in living in a slice of real history then get them to check out our estate agent’s details at michaelcrouch.co.uk. Ours is the white one on School Lane, Buckingham (currently featured as number 31 out of 88) and they can own it for about the same as Michael Ballack earns in just 3 weeks. Maybe we should write to him….ummm. The very good news is that we can be out of there and hand over the keys in days. I’ve got another garden to sort out a l’Italia.


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About Paul

Having decided on a change of life by moving home from the UK to Italy, this is the story and thoughts of a man on a personal journey from the Blackpool Tower to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in search of la dolce vita. After several olive harvests he's now back in London but en route he shares his very personal perspectives on life.

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