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.