I have choices. As I am set free from the ties of the past, I walk toward the future. I have decided I will move, leave thebowdenbothy where I have made my home these past six years, and seek somewhere new. I will take all that I have learned with me, but it is time. The decision I make is mine alone to make, and that is a new experience. There is a freedom and flexibility to this move that I have not experienced before. My only criteria is reasonable proximity to my place of work. Beyond that, I have choices.


I am open to possibilities. I make a list of the towns and villages with potential, and count ten in all. Embracing change, I choose to be in a closer community than the countryside areas I have inhabited for the past fifteen years or so. I choose carefully to make sure there is proximity to the woods, streams and hills that I need to walk daily, but in this area of southern Scotland where I look, this is a possibility in all the towns and villages I explore.


There are merits to many, so I redefine my criteria. For my cats, I look for a home that is not on a main road, with a small garden space. For myself, I look for one that is spacious, light, affordable and warm. I lived in farm cottages with coal fires and single glazed windows for many years. Spacious – yes. Light – yes. Affordable – definitely. Warm – absolutely not. I search for central heating. I look for quiet but friendly neighbours, a coffee shop and of course, access to the walking spaces that are essential to my soul and sense of wellbeing.


I do not think I ask for too much and I begin my search. It does not take long. I find myself, inevitably perhaps, in the town that was my mother’s birthplace. There are other reasons I look here. A twenty minute drive to work, several coffee shops to choose from and hills. This is a town surrounded by high hills and deep rivers, on the edge of the ancient Ettrick Forrest, and my choice is made.


I move in mid-July. Home is to be a late 19th century cottage, and we – my two cats and I – find ourselves adjusting to small town living. Our home has all we asked for, and more. It is early days but the summer sunlight fills all the rooms of our little house at different times of the day. There is much to be done. Carpets are lifted, wooden floorboards revealed. Wallpaper is stripped, simple white plaster uncovered. Garden beds are weeded, a bigger space for next season’s planting discovered. And as for those hills, and those rivers – the possibilities are far, far greater than I imagined. My choice has been the right one. My mother would approve.


The images I use are from my own plantings at thebowdenbothy and on a visit to Kailzie Gardens, near Peebles. 

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