Saturday 8 June 2013

Greener pastures

My relationship with moving house is mixed. I love it, I hate it. The hassle, the packing, the changing of your address, again, with all those organisations, it costs so much time. Even with my experience. In the last seven years alone we moved five times, through three countries. Every child was born in another house. After the last, intercontinental move I lamented we would stay in this place for years, at least. I was fed up. It is nine months later and can you guess?
We are moving. It is my own fault. I am a nomad that always thinks grass is greener on the other side.

A lot greener. The first time I saw one I fell in love: Black and White’s. A Singaporean phenomenon. In this city of high-rise buildings you can find a few scattered oases, where black and white houses are hidden in lush greenery. With large, luxuriant gardens. When it was still British the government built these colonial houses. Old-fashioned, white buildings with black accents, you can picture the memsahibs sitting on the veranda’s, in long white dresses, fanning themselves in the un-air-conditioned heat.

Not only is the grass greener in those gardens, at least there is grass. Our roof terrace has only tiles. I want one. The Black and White houses are now owned by the Singaporean government, who rents them out, by auction. There aren’t many, and to get one you need to bid high, go way out of town, or get lucky. I had been checking the website with it’s meagre offering for a while. And when a cute bungalow, slightly out of town yet inside the school bus area, and reasonably commutable to Roel’s work came up, I saw an opportunity. It did not even take too much effort to convince Roel to let me put the sealed envelop with our bid in the appointed drop-box.

Next week we’ll go. This week I booked movers, but more work is waiting. In contrast to most apartments in Singapore, these houses are let completely stripped bare. It needs a cooker, hood and fridge. Air-conditioning. Curtains and blinds. The garden is a jungle. Paperwork needs signing, our old house needs a new tenant, cleaning, painting and steaming.

Every time I visit the new house I see and hear why we are doing this. No traffic noise, no building noise, only the twittering of birds and the piercing sound of cicadas. This will be the vegetable plot, that the football field. Behind the house, my herbs. The new dining table will go outside, on the veranda. It feels like living in the jungle, and that is no illusion either. Our garden borders McRitchie reservoir, one of Singapore’s largest nature reserves. As nature knows no borders both greenery and wildlife spill over the fence. Birds, monkeys, snakes, and god knows what else.

Our new house is not just a house. It is an adventure. We will stay there for years, at least. Really!


  1. Oh goodness no wonder you want to move, this is so exciting! When can I come over and look for monkeys? Good luck
    M x