It must have been all the house talk.

I talked a lot about houses last year. Wax carved houses, silver houses, enamelled houses. Houses like lockets - with back walls that lower down to reveal secret drawbridge gardens. With swings and paddling pools and space hoppers.

All the houses that I've lived in and how I would make them in miniature silver form. As my last post revealed, I actually made some houses - after an extended Mexican stand off between myself and the mojo. 

I thought deeply about houses in general. Not just 'Bug' houses, but - what exactly is a house?

What is a home?

Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Wax Carving 


My mind honed in on my own feeling of home. After absent for so long, it seemed I was finally ready to let that feeling back in. A feeling that, until it's return, I had never noticed it's departure.

I will try my best to describe the feeling.

A sofa. A living room. Bare feet and cosy toes. Perhaps sunk into the depths of a brown furry bean bag. Nowhere to go and nothing to do, but no boredom. Safety. Enclosed in love. Cosiness. Perhaps I'm wearing pyjamas. Whatever I'm wearing, it's comfortable - in the physical sense, but emotionally too. I do not care what I look like, in a no fear of judgement kind of way. Accepted. Whole. Peaceful. Restful. 

I've pondered that this may be how I felt as a child growing up in the cottage. A long creaky cottage in a village called Hartlebury, about forty-five minutes from Birmingham and the place I called home until late teens. Perhaps I'm trying to describe how your whole world feels as a child that's grown up in one house. A feeling that this is your home. Your sanctuary. This is where you belong. You know nothing of the outside world and you also don't care because you don't know anything exists beyond those wonky wood-chip papered walls. Apart from the sand pit and muddy gravelly front drive. 

In Spring 2019, it happened that I was finally ready to call somewhere home. Not in the way that I have just described, that came a little later. I was ready to accept that Birmingham was a place that I could stay. For a couple of years, for 10 years, for 25 years - it really doesn't matter all that much. Everything is impermanent. A concept which I'm still not sure I have a handle on.

Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog
Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog
Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog
Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog
Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog
Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog

Chimney and window installation.


Houses of one kind morphed in to another.

Wax carved houses joined the army of unsharpened chisels. Obsolete, I had a new project. I'd upgraded to the brick and mortar kind. The kind with walls you can paint any colour - without asking anyone's permission. Green, pink, orange, teal. The kind of walls that welcome blue tack stains and don't care for magnolia touch ups. The kind that you might live in long enough to make planting flowers in the ground worthwhile.

Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog
White Hart Cottage. My home from birth 'til late teens. 

Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog

The printers tray that hung in the stairway of the cottage. There it was too high for me to see in to. Now it sits in our dining room. 

Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog
Tales from the tray: A cameo given to me by Mom for a birthday. A drinks token from Awakenings festival. Tiny 'B' 'U' 'g' letter press letters found in a print shop in Brighton. The key to my first car, a navy Citroen Saxo. An 'Escape, Travel, Live' tattoo sketch. Fortunately, I grew out of that one. An amethyst picked up from ploughed fields in Brittany. The key to the front door. A 'Made by Judith Nelson' fabric label. A tres pesos note from Cuba. Burty - the caterpillar finger puppet and techno mascot. I don't know who the other guy is. He looks far too clean and smart. A battered Marmite keyring and countless other objects. Some with memories and meaning, some without. 


I resisted home for a long time. All of my 20s. Perhaps that’s how you’re wired in your 20s so that you take on the world. Towards the end it just became exhausting.

The uni years were great. The first two years of living in between my Mom and Matt's house were also great. After that, the bag packing and toothbrush forgetting became ever more annoying than amusing. I still can't get on with using someone else's toothbrush. Even if it is your partners. Other people's toothpaste residue just isn't quite the same.

We moved in together, to a pint sized terrace in Harborne, a suburb of Birmingham. There we stayed on and off up until last year. I loved living there and over the next five or so years we made some great memories.  However, constant - was a lingering feeling of wanting to be elsewhere.

At some point during every trip away, I would inevitably say 'It's so nice here. We could live here?' After several years of familiar conversation it became the holiday joke. But every time, I would obsess about moving to said place, envisioning our perfect life there.

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Pebbles at Seven Sisters.


London was first on the list. We scoped out Walthamstow. There was a villagey area which I liked because it didn't feel too 'Londony'. Then Berlin. City tour starting with a 'No Yuppies' all weekend Gabba party going off beneath our AirBnB 'Art Apartment'. Then I think it was Amsterdam and lastly Bristol. With some cute villages in Wales, the Cotswolds and the Lake District dotted in between.

We'd do all the talking and none of the doing. And we are not non-doers. We do stuff. We never moved to any of those places. Perhaps for the same reason I chose to go to university in the nearest city instead of the farthest. I'm not sure exactly what the reason is. I think it lies somewhere along the spectrum of fear and the unknown.

Why those places? We had some friends in each location. The places were very cool. And I suppose the friends. I wanted to be doing what they were doing. A pattern was starting to shape up. 

In the kitchen, whilst Mom made tea and I lingered around, leaning on the oven rummaging through my sister's herbal tea selection, I clearly remember her saying - 'You need to be mindful of the reasons you’re moving to Bristol. It won’t change things. You’ll have the same problems.'

That comment has always stuck, perhaps because she has never discouraged or cast doubt over anything I’ve ever wanted to do.

Judo, despite the broken bones. Teaching pole dance classes instead of applying for jewellery jobs. Dropping everything to live and travel in a van for six months. Plus any other activity/excursion that used up every last penny of my savings.

What have you got to lose? Ellie, we're not here forever. You might get hit by a bus tomorrow. A moto I live by a little too enthusiastically at times.

So my ears payed attention. Moms know. They just seem to know. Every time. I guess the same way you smell a rat when your best friend picks the sociopath.

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Ronnie the Renault. Our home for 6 months in the summer of 2016. 


Looking back at my 20s from the ripe old age of 32, I realise that although they were filled with a lot of fun, I was actually pretty stressed out and suffering with anxiety. It's a funny thing because even as I type this now, that pesky voice is still lurking, saying 'no you didn't' - 'it wasn't that bad and don't be so self indulgent.'

It seems that it's only when you're free of their grip that you realise quite how spiky things were. I say 'they' meaning stress and anxiety. A pair of sneaky evil somethings - I'm trying to think of an animal or entity that I can describe them as but I don't think there's anything close. They're pointy and sharp, red and dark, jeering and jabbing. Sitting in the corner, hiding behind the door, laughing and whispering. Shouting and stamping.

I hate spiders and eels and slugs but even they seem quite pleasant in comparison. Slime trail away crawly ones. All are welcome.

When something creeps up on you so gradually and remains constant, it's like you can't notice that it's there anymore because it's always there. You only notice when it is not there.

Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog
Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog

Workshop wall. Torn quotes from Flow Magazine. Both sets of words seem to perfectly capture my current mental and creative state. An empty display tray. To encourage progress. A similar concept to buying new gym clothes. Postcards from Virgin Honey. I love her work. It reminds me of home and childhood. Enamel samples. A house wearing glasses, that is basically me in vector form.  


I started to take back control of my life. I specifically decided to stop worrying about what other people were doing and concentrate on my own life. I’ve always been heavily influenced by my friends. Doing many regrettable things as a teen for fear of saying no.

I started to love Birmingham again. Like all uni romances, our love affair ended swiftly after moving back home after graduating. At one time, drives towards the city felt so special. Music on annoyingly loud, a big grin on my face, singing badly. The weekend would hold a lot of fun.

Then it was different. Everybody moved away. The drive was just that, a drive from A to B. Anticipation was not a thing. I may have been meeting people but the spark had long gone out. Now it’s time to grow up. You've had your fun and now it’s time to quit building dens and running around the garden half naked after two day house parties.

 Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog


I threw myself into myself. And back into Birmingham. I made a proper effort to give the city another chance and relaxed planning in trips to escape. I realise now that these trips weren't even really about escaping the city. I was fleeing from something that can't be outrun by travel. Although, for a short term fix, I can recommend a wealth of European city break itineraries to anyone wishing to swat some cobwebs away.

Over the course of the last three years I fell in love again. With the city and with life. It is the people that make a place. And your mindset. Like any relationship, you do have to put a little bit of effort in. I believe it for myself now. Connection builds the foundations of home.

This realisation came to fruition in the purchase of our own home. In Birmingham. Something that as a heart first head second creative person - never thought could happen. That's just something that other people do. Same goes for marriage and babies. It is the perfect little place. It is the realisation that Birmingham is our home that made this possible. 

Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog


Grandma passed away in early 2019, it was heartbreaking but also rather special. I mention her passing because you could say that she got the needles knitting. It was suggested that perhaps we could buy her home. This is around the same time that I’m making the wax house prototypes so I’m fully in 'house mode'. It got us both thinking and me Right-Moving. We never did buy Grandma and Grandpa’s home but it made us think a lot about where we geographically and emotionally wanted to be. We’ve built our lives together here in Birmingham. Our own lives – with our own routes here and there, workplaces, friendships and circles. 

We yoyo-ed between Grandma's house, the countryside, the suburbs, or to stay put in Harborne. Everyone says that buying a house is one of the most stressful things that you can do - for us the actual buying process went relatively smoothly. The stressful part was narrowing down the search bar. Then the radius.

We couldn't ignore our pull to stay near the city. But where? And you know me - I like a sign.

I met a friend, Rachel, in Stirchley for a couple of drinks. Several drinks, because the next day I was walking from Harborne to Bournville along the canal, to go and pick up my car. I remember looking at the gardens backed on to the canal and wondering what it would be like to live there, with the ducks and geese floating by. With people like me peering in? Coupled with the foamy gunk and K cider cans? Maybe it's not so nice. My mind continued it's deliberations.

On reaching Stirchley, at the point where I needed to leave the canal path, a barge called 'Tilly' was moored up. As soon as I saw it I knew. An anagram of my date of birth painted underneath Matt's last name - Tilley. It can't get much clearer than that.

And so it was decided. Either by me, or whoever put that barge there. We bought a house in Stirchley.

We're home. 

 Ellie Ingram Jewellery Bug Lives Here Blog

Big love,