WHAT is it that makes a house a home?

I have lived in 15 different properties since leaving school, but the place that has always been home was the house I grew up in. It was the house I returned to after university, and at various other times since, with my life packed up in boxes. It was the house where my parents raised their children, and welcomed their grandchildren.

For nearly half a century it was filled with the ebb and flow of our family life, from domestic minutiae to life-changing moments. It was a noisy, chaotic, untidy house, and everyone who came through the door loved it. When we were children, it was the house on the street where all our friends gathered, and later it was the place everyone piled back to after the pub.

It was the house where I did cartwheels down the hall with my sister, where we turned bedrooms into dens and put on daft shows in the living room. Later, it was filled with the sound of my niece and nephews doing the same things.

It was a house of parties and sleepovers, guests and get-togethers. People I’ve known for years still talk fondly of visiting our home. It was where exam results were opened, boyfriends and girlfriends were introduced, engagements, babies, new jobs and retirements were celebrated.

In later years, it became the house where my mum spent her final hours. And it was where we gathered with loved ones, in rooms filled with floral fragrance, after saying goodbye to our parents.

Last weekend, the time finally came for us to leave the house we have known for most of our lives. I'd never seen it without furniture, but on Sunday morning I felt the eerie echo that ripples through an empty house, even in silence.

I stood in the kitchen, an empty space in place of the table where we spent so many happy times, sharing our day and arguing over whose turn it was to wash-up.

I thought of my mum stirring a pan, chattering away, Radio 4 always on and half-listened to. Upstairs there was a quiet stillness where her sewing machine used to whir away. Yet still lingering, in my senses, was the smell of material rolls and button boxes piled haphazardly in her little sewing-room.

Now the house has gone to another family, who I hope will love it as much as we did. I knew there would be sadness in closing the front door for the last time - I just wasn’t prepared for how much it would make me cry.

It’s a wrench and it feels like a bereavement. The house is synonymous with our late parents, and the chapters of our lives that are gone forever. I miss it terribly, and I know that no other home I live in will ever have the same effect on me.

Of course not everyone feels this way when they lose the home they grew up in - a house is only bricks and mortar, after all. But for several people I know, leaving a house that contains a lifetime of memories has left them with a sense of grief.

One friend flatly refuses to sell her old family home, which has stood empty since her mother died a year ago. Another recalls sitting on the stairs of her father’s house after his death, overcome with grief and unable to move, despite the fact that the house was sold and she was about to hand over the keys.

Another friend is dreading the day she has to deal with her old family home after her parents are gone. Her sister is already saying she never wants to sell the house.

For us, that time has come. And what I think of now is my dad's voice, as our car turned into our street whenever we returned from a holiday.

"Is the house still standing?" he'd ask. And there it was, always.

* WHAT is it about neurotic women in TV dramas? On every channel these days it seems there's a woman scorned and on the edge of sanity, plotting revenge against a villainous man.

In BBC1's must-see Doctor Foster, Suranne Jones is giving a stirring performance as a woman struggling to hold it together. When she's not busy being a GP, she's glugging her body weight in wine, stalking her ex-husband's new wife, and dunking her wedding ring in acid. In ITV's Liar the central female character is also cracking up, and breaking and entering. And in Emmerdale, deranged widow Emma behaves like the wild-eyed woman in the attic in a gothic novel, while Corrie's 'bridezilla' Eva has become an irrational mess.

Just for once, can't a woman, even a scorned one, behave with some dignity on telly?

* IMAGES of the First World War tend to depict a very male experience; we think of 'Tommies' in the trenches and the horrors of going over the top.

But many women played a vital role in that terrible war, as a new photographic exhibition in Bradford reveals. No Man's Land, at Impressions Gallery next month, features rarely-seen images taken by women working as nurses, ambulance drivers and war photographers. These powerful images offer a different viewpoint on the conflict, by women who have been largely erased from history.