Have you ever thought about how you’d design a city or town if you could start from scratch?  What would the houses look like and where would you pick to live?  By the river or by the parks? With other houses and neighbours or in splendid isolation?

Harry and I got to make some of these decisions a couple of weeks ago when we went to a wonderful (free!) event called ‘Home Sweet Home’ at the RSC in Stratford.  Conceived by design students Abigail Conway and Lucy Hayhoe, you all come together to build a suburb, picking your cardboard flatpack house from a range of designs, and then decorating it and placing it in the ever-growing community.  We had a blast…


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I chose a tall Victorian-style semi-detached house, Harry went with a mid-century modern style and my mum chose a cute cottage.  We picked up our instruction packs and then raided the craft supplies there for glue, paints, magazines to cut up and lolly sticks for roofing and fences.  Here’s my Scandi-style house with matchstick shutters, an incongruous rooftop star and a giant, improbable fig climbing the front wall, plus Harry and Grandma’s stylishly unique abodes..

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Once we’d carefully placed our finished houses into the community, we checked out some of the other, amazing properties, like this forest house with a contemporary glass extension…


An incredibly intricate Tudor-style house with elaborate matchstick panelling on all the walls…

Shakespearean house

…and this one made me laugh.  Every community has one somewhere!Babehouse It was such a fun experience (and if you’re anywhere near Stratford, you can visit the finished city and stroll amongst all the houses and streets!).

Harry was so inspired by it that when we got home he was keen to recreate his own, so we dug out some coloured paper and magazines and had a go…

To foster a vibrant and like-minded community, Harry wrote a Citizens’ Charter.  Here were his top 3 rules (my boy!).  I confess that for the second one he wanted a complete ban on smoking AND alcohol until I pointed out that I would have to keep driving to another city when I wanted a glass of wine.


And then we cut a long, winding river for the town, interspersing housing plots along it, including moorings for houseboats (my fave)..

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Then Harry added roadways, traffic lights, trees and a cinema complex, plus fingerprint scanner cards for resident access (it’s a VERY modern city!).

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We used peg people to stake out our preferred plots, and began to negotiate rents with our suddenly very capitalist town mayor…

It was a fabulous wet-weekend activity, and Harrytropolis continues to thrive as the heart of our small community!

Hope you’re having a great week, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.

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