Saying goodbye to my Grandma and Grandad’s house

When my sister left the country, we were saying goodbye not just to them, but to the house that has been one of the constants throughout my whole life. My Grandad built it at the beginning of the 1950s and lived in it with my Grandma for the next 60 years or so. My Grandma then sadly died, followed swiftly by my Grandad, and my sister and her family have lived in it for the last three years.

It feels silly to feel so attached to a house, but it has just always been there. I even cried when my brother-in-law moved the kitchen door. I have a bad memory, but if I shut my eyes now I can walk through the whole house, (being careful on the shiny parquet floor), just as it always was when I was small. I can picture every detail and smell every smell.

Just to make sure I don’t ever forget, these are some of the things I remember most vividly about my Grandma and Grandad and their house:

I remember the closeness between them, never seeing one without the other.

I remember the smell of sage and onion as you came through the side door into the kitchen, even though I don’t remember eating many roast dinners.

I remember distinguishing between my Grandads by who they belonged to – ‘Grandad belongs to Gran’ and ‘Grandad belongs to Grandma’.

I remember the immaculate lawns and the little steps up to the back half of the garden.

I remember the see through plastic bag full of dolls and the cream and red plastic tea set, kept under the stairs.

I remember the Avon talcs at the side of the bath, evidence of Christmas gifts over the years.

I remember the feeling of nervousness and excitement every time you ventured upstairs and peeped into one of the bedrooms when you were meant to just be going to the toilet.

I remember the leather pouffe by the side of my Grandma’s chair, always with the latest copy of the Bridgwater Mercury lying on top.

I remember never using the front door, always the side one, up the steps and into the kitchen.

I remember taking your shoes off on the mat by the kitchen door and the perilous journey across the highly polished parquet floor and into the sitting room.

I remember rich tea biscuits from the round biscuit tin and orange juice from the Tupperware jug in the door of the fridge.

I remember the smell of the larder.

I remember the saucepan in two halves, for boiling two different vegetables at once.

I remember my Grandma’s excitement at first getting a microwave, and her taking a microwave cookery class at the local school.

I remember kisses goodbye and the dry, fragrant, softness of my Grandma’s cheek and the moist, spikiness of my Grandad’s.

I remember driving away in the car after a visit, my Grandma and Grandad stood outside to see us off, and being told to wave until we were right around the corner.

gardens steps

14 Comments

  1. 5 August, 2015 / 11:22 am

    I love this – I remember so much about my grandparents. My dad’s mum died when I was quite young and we only saw her once a year, maybe twice, but all of his large family would meet up at her house. My mum’s parents lived very close to us and we saw them once a week, maybe more.

  2. Vicky Robinson
    Twitter:
    5 August, 2015 / 1:33 pm

    It’s funny how sentimental and attached to places we can be! I do relate as I used to live with my grandma in a really big old fashioned house. It had an internal bathroom. but also an old fashioned metal pull chain toilet outside (I guess probably the original facility) and there was an area in the back kitchen for coal delivery as for years the central heating was supplied by the coal powered Rayburn and all the downstairs rooms had a fireplace. The kitchen was unmodernized and complete with a pantry that my granny insisted was better than the fridge! (It wasn’t!) It had a beautiful old garden and was full of character. She sold it over 25 years ago when she could no longer manage the high steep staircase and was far too frail to stay there on her own when I was at uni, but I often go back to that house in my memories. I bet it is fully modernized now and I probably wouldn’t recognize it, but I still miss that old house, all the old furniture from a bygone age and all the happy memories we had there.

    • Jo Middleton
      5 August, 2015 / 1:45 pm

      It’s weird the little things that stick in your mind isn’t it? When I was taking pictures I took pictures of what felt like really silly things, like the catch on the cupboard under the stairs!

  3. Maria Turner
    Twitter:
    5 August, 2015 / 2:00 pm

    I have very fond memories of my grandparents house too. They lived in Bridgwater, near the station. My grandad used to work for GWR. I remember what the house looked like, with the ‘best’ front room, then the sitting room, which also had the dining table in it (under which we would sometimes camp out). They also had a lovely long hallway with parquet flooring. As well as the way the house looked, I still associate certain aromas with it; the smell of a roast dinner, coal tar soap (grandad), lily of the valley in their bedroom (nan) the smell of heat and plants growing in grandads home built greenhouse. I used to love spending a few days their every summer holiday and have many fond memories, although I believe the house looks very different inside now. Grandad is now into his mid 90’s and sadly we lost my beloved nan many years ago, but the memories are always there. Mum and dad still get the Bridgwater Mercury now and I have a flick through on my visits home, incase I spot a familiar name, even though I left nearly 25 years ago, lol.

    Your post brought a smile to my face, as I revisited my memories :)

    • Jo Middleton
      5 August, 2015 / 5:45 pm

      Smells are so evocative aren’t they? I know my Grandma used to look at the obituaries and the court notices for names she might recognise!

  4. 5 August, 2015 / 3:49 pm

    Lots of fabulous memories to treasure
    It reminds me of my Aunty Edith’s house. Although she passed away in the early 70’s I can still smell the understairs cupboard. It was full of toys, playdoh and big tins of buttons that my brothers, sister and I played with.
    Her dining table that ALWAYS had a golden chenille tablecloth on it which was covered with a Nottingham lace cloth when we had tea.
    She could cut the thinnest slices of bread from an unsliced loaf! No fridge only a marble slab in the pantry that kept things cool.
    Such happy memories.
    Su Tyler recently posted…Greenmeadow Community FarmMy Profile

    • Jo Middleton
      5 August, 2015 / 5:44 pm

      It sounds like you remember it really well! It’s amazing isn’t it, the details we can hold? There must be something about the smell of under stairs cupboards. When my sister left after three years it was the one part of the house where we could still get a whiff of them.

  5. Lucy
    5 August, 2015 / 4:56 pm

    That made me well up! You are so lucky to have had them. Xx

    • Jo Middleton
      5 August, 2015 / 5:42 pm

      I am aren’t it? :-)

  6. Rhi P
    Twitter:
    5 August, 2015 / 7:43 pm

    This is a really beautiful post, found myself getting choked up!
    It’s a amazing what sort of details you remember, and reading through your memories have brought back a lot of my own that I haven’t thought about for a long time.
    So thank you- smiling through a few tears over here!

  7. Alana Walker
    5 August, 2015 / 8:56 pm

    I really enjoyed this article, thank you for making me take the time to think about my wonderful childhood days spent at my grandparents house.x

  8. 14 August, 2015 / 8:31 pm

    My god, what a beautiful post. I’m sorry you have to leave that place behind.

    Some of the things you mention have evoked memories of my grandma’s house as well – it smelled of lapsang souchong and Silk Cut. I’m the same as you and love to go on a little journey back to various houses in my mind sometimes.
    Lottie :: Oyster & Pearl recently posted…Canopy and Stars: A day out at Harptree Court and some exciting travel newsMy Profile

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