At one point I started viewing property websites and looked longingly at houses with spacious kitchens and gardens larger than a bath mat. Many of them had a study and a shed - catnip for a middle aged man - plus the en suite bathroom that my wife has yearned for all these years.
To add to the temptation, the houses weren't selling for any more money than the value of our home. If we could buy one of these houses (and somehow lose our cats during the move), how much better life could be. I could have that book-lined study I'd always dreamed about.
But the bubble always burst when I clicked on the maps and realised that there is a simple rule to purchasing a property in this area: unless you're blessed with a large sum of money, you can either have a small house in a good location, or a large home in a less desirable one. Invariably, whenever I saw a house I liked, there was a catch.
Also, many of the larger houses I saw conformed to Patrick Hamilton's snobbish but amusing description in a book I'm reading at the moment, Mr Stimpson and Mr Gorse:
'The houses were squat, two-storied affairs. Their fronts had all been most oddly treated. It looked as if the builder had had some sort of infantile sea-mania for shingled beaches, and that, to indulge this passion, he had, having covered the external walls with thick glue, used some extraordinary machine with which to spray them densely with small pebbles.
In the front gardens of most of these houses there were, in addition to sundials, countless images of Gnomes, Dwarfs, Fairies, Goblins, and Peter Pans - the inhabitants of Sispara Road having, it seemed, a strong turn of mind for the whimiscal, the grotesque and the beautiful.'
So for the time being, I am staying put in the unpebbledashed, gnome-free streets of Lewes, resigned to living in a terraced Victorian shoebox, but grateful to live in a town that is full of delights, with solid, unpretentious housing.
The other day I explored the ruins of the Priory of St Pancras, which was built roughly 940 years ago:
Last night, the Priory of St Pancras looked particularly beautiful as volunteers had lit over a thousand candles, all strategically placed either on the ground or in the nooks of the stone walls. It was quite magical.
Also, at a time when so many people around the world have been displaced from their homes, it seemed absurd to be complaining about something so self-indulgent and trivial.
But when the car exhausts and builders' hammers get too much, I can faintly hear the quiet call of the garden gnomes whispering "Shed, conservatory, en suite bathroom, study, parking space, large kitchen, guest bedroom..." and a part of me weakens.
P.S - In response to Joan's comment, I have a very short video clip of the choir, which I've added. I didn't bother trying to film anything in the dark, but I hope this captures something of the evening's magic. Oh, and did I add that it was all free?