Where is home?

Today as I was about to board a plane to Stockholm my mother sent me an email saying “safe flight home”. It made me think, as the concept of home has been uppermost in my mind over the past few days.

Sweden is clearly no longer home. I love it here. I love the food and the cleanliness, the friendly people and the cakes. But it has not been home for a long time. Although I suppose in some deep part of my psyche there is a part that will always be Swedish.


While we were in the Languedoc this week we went home to Sainte Cecile. Bea wept and I felt ambiguous. It is still a lovely house. It is a perfect house in many ways. But for me the romance has slightly gone. It could be because it smelt wrong. Maybe I am rather like a mummy bunny rejecting its young when they have been touched by someone else. I don’t know. But even walking to the cross (which used to be one of my favourite things in the world) was less magical.

I felt like a bit of a traitor but half of me was thinking about the Savoie house which I think could become a home. But is it mad to give up on Sainte Cecile where the children were practically born? The landscape is lovely and we have good friends there as well as granny and grandpa. Leo and Bea took their first steps there. Most of my books were written there. And yet I don’t really feel at home there any more. But would I feel at home in THE house in the Savoie? Possibly…as Shakespeare says: No traveller returns.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2009

10 thoughts on “Where is home?

  1. My advice would be to visit the house in Savoie in say, November (or another horrid month in Savoie) and see if you still see it as a potential ‘home’…

  2. I’m amazed, I thought from your writing that S.Cecile had a magic for you.
    Smell is a very powerful sense and emotion. The area of our brain that registers smell is next to memory, so maybe you’re right- the house smelled unfamiliar, so did not evoke any memories.
    It must be a bit disconcerting to feel no “homely” connection to anywhere?

  3. Excellent advice Fiona!
    As for Bea’s feelings my wife, who knows a few things about moving house when she was young, says the children will always blame you for selling the house of their childhood. Bonne chance pour prendre la bonne décision

  4. Home is often where one spent one’s early years in my experience but, your “home” is where your heart is, and that is with your own special family.
    With the travelling you do your young ones are being greatly enriched. The most rounded people are those who have travelled – the squarish are the stay at homes.

    The smell? You have forgotten the smell of a French stone house. You guys, as the Americans say, are in great shape for sure; keep smiling and enjoying life.

  5. ahhhh, the word ‘home’ – it means so many things to so many people. Is it where the heart is, where you feel most relaxed, where your memories are, where the four walls of your childhood stand? Or is it simply where you and your immediate family are?

    As a traveller myself I find it hard to decide what home means to me and right now I’m trying to make a ‘home’ for me and my family, but then just yesterday over dinner with Japanese and Korean friends I thought ‘hmmm, I would actually love to go back to Japan and spend some time there one day.’

    I think if you have a travelling spirit then you will always want to experience different places, all of which will hold something for you as a home. But it would be nice to find one place in the world that you might always like to come back to in between … maybe one day I will find it. Maybe I already have.

  6. For Fiona and Jasques,
    Climate changes,but prejudice is firmly rooted. Savoie and Haut Savoie are large deparments with a landscape of mountains, valleys and lakes. Of course there are areas that have bad weather in winter, tell me a place that does not. Yet the tourists come to ski in their thousands from November on – are they all wrong?

    After several sojourns in Ireland and England our children grew up to regard Somerset as home for some fourteen years. Now one lives in Munich, one in Suffolk and the third in New York.
    W are coming up to our eighteenth winter in Savoie and are still waiting for the ‘horrid’ months we heard about when we moved.
    The Americans still believe in ‘foggy London’ something that hasn’t happened for fifty years. As I said ‘prejudice dies hard.

  7. Errr, what have I missed? I see references to THE house – but what is going on? You are obviously considering a savoie purchase ( we went last weekend for the afternoon, from Lyon, and LOVED it, sooo pretty) but I can’t find where on the blog this happened! What’s going on – I feel like I’m missing a whole story somewhere!

    With regards to home – I still say home for England (because it’s where I grew up and what I know and can relate to best), but more and more I call France home – I have lived in many places and find it always takes a while to call somewhere home. For me, it’s being settled, less insecure, familiar with customs and not feeling like an outsider any more. The physical dwelling has less to do with it. I suspect it’s similar for you, if you read back your posts to a year ago when you first arrived in Abu Dhabi…. 🙂

    Jo x

  8. Hi Jo
    Yes I am, I will post pics soon, it is a beautiful farmhouse with a tennis court and I have been in love with the place for years. I posted a while back, can’t remember where, sorry. I agree with you on your definition of home, not sure Abu Dhabi is quite there yet, we will certainly always feel like outsiders…

  9. I think you know it’s over! Once you lose that indescribable feeling deep inside – it’s finished and you can’t fake it. That’s why I move a lot! But, helena, I’m confused – what’s the house in Savoie???

  10. Hi Anna
    You’re so right – it is like a relationship and the awful thing is that lovely as Sainte Cecile is, it is over for me. The house in the Savoie is a place close to our friends Norrie and Mary there I spotted a few years ago and fell in love with. At the time it was not for sale. Now it is, we are seeing it on Tuesday but I have some pics of the outside I will post soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook