House-warming: An Experiment in Living with Less

PIctures from home

I moved to Edinburgh from Canada five year ago with my husband and my dog.  We traveled light when we came here, bringing only what we could take on the plane for free: which back then was 2 checked bags and a carry on.  The month before our move was taken up by sorting through everything we’d accumulated, selling some, giving some away and putting everything we thought we might need again into storage.

There have been a few things we’ve come to miss, some of which we’ve fetched back to Edinburgh after trips home.  But there’s more, much more, that we’ve forgotten about, that we no longer need and that we’ve now given away. The pile in storage shrinks with each visit.

A year ago, almost to the day, we put down roots in Edinburgh, buying a flat here.  Once they’d reconciled themselves to the fact that we were going to be in Scotland for a while, my parents started talking about buying us a new lazy-boy love-seat, the same gift they’d given us as a wedding present.

Houses are built on a different scale here.  Our 1930s housing has a tiny front door, a narrow entrance stairway and a sharp 90 degree turn into the flat itself.  No way of getting a monstrous piece of furniture designed for a North American house in here.

But they still insisted on getting us something.  We didn’t need anything new.  But there were a few things back home we did actually miss, things too big to fit in a suitcase.  Our house-warming present arrived from Canada a few weeks ago: the artwork that used to hang on the walls of our place in Ottawa.  The diving loon poster I bought as a teenager from the Canadian Wildlife Federation ( and got framed as an adult.  Our wedding photos, which are mostly of Japhur (our dog).  The elephant painting we bought off an art student going door to door to raise money for a trip abroad.

Art matters. It houses our memories.

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I'm a writer, a researcher and a storyteller.

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