Having given up on buying the croft house, I am pleased to be able to report that there has recently been progress on the house site - the Crofters Commission has agreed to decroft the site and the land-owner's solicitor is drawing up the new title, so I will shortly be handing over the money and becoming the proud owner of a half hectare of paradise. The next step is to get a house design to put in for full planning permission. Every second day I find myself with a new sketch.
It must be small, very small. Partly because that's all I can afford, partly because the smaller it is the less energy it will consume but mostly because I love little spaces. Perhaps it's because as the youngest in the family I always had the smallest room. At college I had a succession of wee rooms and loved them all. I adore the intimacy of a tiny caravan. I am in ecstacy in the womb-like comfort of a tent. I wrote most of my first novel in a tiny bender I made myself, which I used to call my womb-room (sadly, it blew away in the 2005 hurricane). So I am set on what my architect friend calls a 'micro-house'.
But what shape should it be? For the past while I have been getting obsessed with the idea of making it a tiny version of a Viking long house, stove in the middle, throne bed at one end, perhaps five times as long as it is wide, but not much wider than a double bed. This is also the shape of one of my favourite buildings in the whole world, the Fasting Palace in Heaven Park in Beijing, which consists of five square rooms in a row: bedroom, study and three public rooms. The emperor would get up at one end of the building and work his way during the course of the day to the other end, then back again, spending some time in each room. He began and ended each day writing poems in his study. A lifestyle to aspire to, I feel. I fancy a miniature open-plan version of the same thing: bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, dining room, lounge, all arranged in one long thin space.