Friday, 8 July 2011

Room With a View

The windows in the house where I grew up were big, old fashioned sash windows.

They rattled in the wind that whipped around the house in winter. The cold air would seep through the gaps and we would wake up to a beautiful tracing of hoar frost on the glass panes.

In the Summer I would throw up the sash and climb over the sill dropping down into the back garden.
The house, as I’ve explained before was a long bungalow.  At the back, to one end, was a short extension which gave the house an almost L shape.

The extension was to my left as I jumped out of the window.  It housed the kitchen which overlooked the garden and also what was referred to as the outhouse. Below the window grew great bushes of Hydrangea and sweet smelling Daphne.

The outhouse was where Grandad kept the food for the chickens, it had a warm oaty smell with an undertone of carbon from the coal bunker.  The coal bunker was attached to the outside of the outhouse and was filled to the brim with shiny black coal like black gold at the beginning of each winter. 

Inside the outhouse, under a wide shelf, was a small doorway which led to the coal bunker outside. Grandad would open the little door and shovel the coal into a big brass scuttle that sat beside the fire in the dining room.

Above the shelf, suspended from the ceiling were hooks where my Grandmother hung muslin bags full of fruit, a bowl underneath to catch the juice of the berries as it dripped through the cloth. She would transform the liquid into jellies and jams to store in the huge wooden wardrobe in the bedroom at the front of the house.

The garden was large and square, surrounded by a fuchsia hedge alive in the summer with the hum of bees gathering nectar from the beautiful vivid red flowers with the purple centres.

The back garden was Grandads kingdom. He could be found, flat cap on his head, digging and planting, tying up runner beans, the bamboo wigwams intercepted with bright orange marigolds because ‘the slugs would eat them first’ and sweet peas because, well, just because I think he liked them. 

He would plait onions into long ropes to hang in the garage, bring in the first of the tiny new potatoes, their waxy skins still covered in earth, a bunch of fragrant mint in his other hand. ‘Something for dinner’ he would say and lay his offering on the blue linoleum covering of the kitchen table.

The chickens lived in a large run at the bottom of the garden with a high wire fence surrounding it.  Grandad would cut the outer leaves from a cabbage and throw them in.  Whilst the chickens were feasting I would unlatch the gate and run to the henhouse opening the door to find the freshly laid eggs nestling in the hay filled boxes.  Carefully I would lay the still warm eggs in cloth lined basket and, tongue between my teeth, one eye on the hens, tiptoe carefully back to the gate breathing a sigh of relief as I dropped the catch behind me.

Around the edge of the garden grew gooseberry bushes, big, fat, sweet, yellow skinned goose berries I would pick warm from the bush and pop straight into my mouth.

There were always strawberries for pudding in the summer with bowls of thick crusted yellow clotted cream.  Red currents, black currents and white currents, cabbages, cauliflower and cucumbers.  We ate for the seasons and everything that couldn't be eaten was pickled and made into jams and chutneys to eat with the left over cold Sunday roast on Monday lunchtime along with a great pile of mashed potato.

The back garden was surrounded by a huge corn field, as far as the eye could see in the summer, the golden ears of corn rippled in the breeze, down through the valley to the blue sea beyond.

On a clear night the distant flash from the lighthouse could be seen from the window, guiding ships safely in to harbour, a reassuring twinkle in the inky blackness.


Anne said...

Oh, how beautiful Sarah! What lovely memories. Sounds like a lovely place to be.

Anne x

Anonymous said...

Oh Sarah - It all sounds so idyllic and wonderfully peaceful, far better than the picture that is painted outside my window right now - of torrential downpours and noisy traffic.

Hope you are having a good day

Lou :-) xxx

Sarah Mac said...

It was a great place to spend part of my childhood Anne and being fortunate enough to spend so much time with my Grandparents is something I'll always be grateful for. x

There were downsides to living in the country Lou but I only seem to remember the good times.

The view from my window isn't quite so good these days but at least it's not raining. Hoping you get some sun soon! xxx

•´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´• said...

I wish we could all return to a simpler life.

My grand parents lived in the city and as such I didn't have these experiences but I hope to create some when we move to the country.

Sarah Mac said...

There was a lot of beauty in the simplicity of it all Tris. I don't know, I guess the experience could have been very different had the people been different. We were very lucky in being where we were but even luckier in being with the people we were with.

I would love the opportunity to create some of these memories for my children, I hope living in the country brings you everything it brought me.

Georgina Illingworth said...

So lovely, and wonderfully written as well. We always used to call them frost ferns instead of hoar frost, because the icy tendrils look just like the curled leaves of a fern x

Sarah Mac said...

Thank you Georgina. They do look like ferns, we used to call them that too. I kind of miss them (but not the freezing mornings!) x