(24th January is the anniversary of the day I became a homeowner for the first time – 11 years ago now. After a fairly exhaustive (and exhausting) search across almost the entirety of West Yorkshire, I bought the house I’d been renting for a few years in Leeds. Three beautiful things about that house:

1. I remember seeing it for the first time – in April 2000. Standing in the top room and looking over the sunny park, saying we could be happy there. Then a month later, we moved in and as we went to sleep that night, the cats sat in the same window and chirped back and forth: were they saying the same thing?

2. Sitting on the steps to the front door (the only door), watching the world go by.

3. The kitchen was ancient but the cupboards were painted a lovely pale sea green, which contrasted nicely with the orange streaks in the flagged stone floor. The bathroom was equally old but the turquoise walls were always cheerful.)

Three from today:

1. I feel like I tell Kaufman “no” an awful lot – no, don’t eat Carla’s food; no, don’t lick that plate; no, don’t bother Lily – so instead of saying no this time, I just scoop him up into my arms. He closes his eyes and purrs, blissed out.

1b. Carla climbs onto my shoulders like she always used to, and slowly, slowly, I carry her back to the window seat. John is sat on it, playing guitar, but as I approach, he moves: Queen Carla comes first.

1c. Tilda bobs her head from side to side, a slightly manic look in her eye: her way of saying “I would like a cuddle, please please please”.

2. The plates are a perfect temperature: well warmed but not too hot.

3. I’ve had a headache all day and I’m too tired to do anything so I slump on the sofa. In time, after they’ve had a mutual smell across the room, Lily and Strange join me: the former under my head as a pillow, the latter curled against my belly. Strange purrs enough for the both of them.