I love that house, and am sad that soon I won't be able to visit or stay there any more, but now all the kids have grown up and left home (apart from my little bro who's at uni) I guess it's unfair to expect my folks to live in a massive house with just them, the dog and the cat to rattle around in.
I have countless memories of living in that house (most of them good!), and am always reminded of something from the past whenever I go to visit. It's the only house I have any real memory of living in - we were in Caerleon for a bit before moving to Magor and I can't remember much of that house.
What saddens me slightly is that I never really appreciated the house for what it was when I was a kid. For me and my brothers, it was just normal to live in a gigantic house with a huge garden and an entire valley to roam. It seems strange to me now, but sometimes I looked on my friends in the village with envy because they lived on housing estates where they could visit each other and play in the street.
Even so, we'd spend most weekends playing wargames outside with wooden sticks for machine guns or sloshing about in the nearby stream constructing dams (much to the annoyance of the farmers downstream). We would have adventures exploring the woods behind the house, making dens out of anything we could find, or we'd explore the churchyard over the road at night hoping to catch sight of a ghost. Good times.
We didn't know we were born.
So now, as a grown up who's been infected by the social virus of materialism, I regard my parent's house with the eyes of someone who wants a 'really nice place' to live in. Unless we become stinking rich, we'll never be able to afford to live in a house like it. My expectations of a home for my family have always been quite high because of the Homestead, so I've now had to set my sights a little bit lower as I've come to realise our financial limitations.
It was, however, a fantastic home for most of my life where I got to do things a lot of children never experienced. I owe my parents a great deal for what they gave me - a childhood of wonder and adventure, set against a backdrop of several acres of green countryside. They made a lot of sacrifices to live in that house and I will forever be grateful.
The Homestead is just some bricks, cement, wood, glass and metal thrown together. In a thousand years, it will have crumbled away and become part of the earth again. However, it played a huge part in my formative years and I will always look back fondly at that big old house nestled at the bottom of the valley.
People move on. Thing change. That's life.
I just hope the new owners of The Homestead learn to really appreciate it.