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Home truths

Buying a house is an emotive act, fuelled by all kinds of desire - protecting a family, starting a new life, following a dream. Three Muddy readers open the door to their homes to share their personal stories.


Cathrine Tjore, 40, mid-Buckinghamshire

As soon as I walked into my house I knew I wanted to buy it. It was empty, badly overgrown, a tiny two-bedroom bungalow on a big plot in mid Buckinghamshire. Most people would have dismissed it immediately but I just had a great feeling about it. And when I spotted the same identical woodburner that I used to have in my family home in Kristiansand in Southern Norway, that was it for me, it was fate! We had to have it.

It’s the first property my husband Simon and I have ever bought – I was 33 at the time so we were quite late starters on the property ladder, mainly because we had moved around the UK quite a bit and we’d also started our own café business which meant we had to wait several years to qualify for a mortgage.

I was really itching to make my mark on a home but the good thing about having to rent for so long was that by the time we actually bought this house I had all the furnishings! I’d been collecting them for years, literally couldn’t stop buying, our tiny flat was packed! All the china, glass, tables, you name it. I love to buy vintage so if I see something I know I probably won’t get the chance to buy it again and have to grab it.

When we were handed the keys to the house, passed them straight to a decorator and we went to Norway to get married! Since then the house has been our total love and creative project. We’ve built an upstairs, expanded the dining area, and landscaped the garden.

But my most precious add has been our Norwegian summer house opposite the main home (below).

The idea for it grew from an initial thought to build a garage, then it turned into a garage with a room above and before I knew it, I’d designed a typical Norwegian retreat with kitchen, en suite bedroom and verandah! I’ve lived away from Norway since I was 19, not just in the UK but around the world, but I do feel homesick from time to time, and I realised once I started building this house how much I wanted a place where my family and friends could visit and enjoy their own space. I had also hoped at one stage to have children, and thought it could be a great space for a nanny, though that’s not an option since I had breast cancer in 2016.

Nowadays Simon and I use the summer house mainly for dinner parties – it’s fun to have a space away that’s entirely dedicated to entertaining – and we also use it to watch TV upstairs in the bedroom as we don’t have a box in the main house. We take over a bottle of wine and kick back, it kind of feels escaping to a hotel! Recently we’ve started renting it out as an Air BnB too which has been great – we’ve met some lovely people. I think for me it’s just amazing to have a house that is the perfect meld of me and Simon – Norway and England combined, and just seeing the summer house across the lawn when I’m having my coffee on a morning makes me smile every time.


Favourite restaurant: The Mash Inn in Radnage, high in the Chilterns offers incredible food, cooked over an open fire. Real special occasion stuff. You can stay over too.

Best pub: The Hundred in Ashendon is a hidden gem near me. The chef Matt used to work at St John in London has had a Michelin Gourmand for the last 4 years. It’s grown up British fare in a relaxed atmosphere.

Go-to shop: There’s a fantastic concept store called FROM in Thame that focus on the best makers and artisans in the local area. I always pick up something special there. I love LASSCO Three Pigeons architectural salvage in Milton Common too – it’s a total treasure trove.

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