​​​​​​​Where kids can draw on the walls

Hugo Spowers is a British engineer and the founder of Riversimple, which manufactures the Rasa, a road-approved hydrogen fuel cell electric car. A small fleet of Rasa cars are currently being tested by private drivers, car clubs and Monmouthshire County Council, in and around Abergavenny in South Wales.

Home is a rather dog-eared Herefordshire farmhouse near Offa’s Dyke and the Welsh Border. There is a small town nearby, but no railway station. The roads are narrow and quiet, disturbed most often by the occasional tractor. We came to this inaccessible corner of England because, unlike everywhere else which also felt like a good place to raise our children, here we could afford the kind of house and garden we wanted.

The house is not fancy. We never worried much if the kids traipsed through in muddy boots and drew on the walls. But it was and is a brilliant home. Our respective childhood homes are now mostly under the M3. There, as here, we relished the freedom to get everyone together, build dens, get stung by nettles, lie peacefully in long grass in the sun and on rainy, grumpy days, to hide away beyond earshot. Yet to still be at home.

We moved here about 20 years ago. It was rare, then, for a couple who did not work in agriculture, to be able to live somewhere so remote. We were fortunate: it coincided with the rise of the internet. My wife’s job at the time took her out of the country a great deal, but when she was in the UK, she could be here, so we were both able to work remotely before it was so widely accepted. Those who live here tend to work here; it’s too remote for commuting. So the community around the town relies upon it for shopping, socialising and all sorts of arts shows and events. We like this. It creates a mass of links between people and a depth of connection which seems, across our ultra-connected world, to be increasingly rare. It’s the sort of place to which young writers in the 1970s escaped, enriching the community. Today’s urbane, urban commentators would probably look down their noses at our rambling house and its lack of ‘statement’ pieces and bling. No matter. We love feeling so at home, everywhere in and around our home. As a bonus, it also turns out that the small, nippy car we designed for cities, is as practical in country lanes as in double-parked city streets, and as much fun when overtaking a tractor, as when pulling out into Hyde Park Corner.