Thursday, 22 August 2013

An Old Rectory Wedding: A Celebration in Three Acts (2)

Act II: Wedding Bells

The Dog Moment
We'd worried and worried about what to do with our new dog.  Our timing was completely off.  Get a dog from a rescue home and, having been told that he will need peace and quiet for a while, subject him to about 80 people milling around the garden and house.  With his separation anxiety, we knew that locking him in a room was not an option.  He would cry, howl and bark the house down, poo and wee, scratch and bite.  The solution was that he must come to the wedding too.

H took control of him for the ceremony and went to her seat with the dog on his retractable lead.  We entered and went to the front (or was it the back?) of the marquee to stand with the celebrant.  Sprocket rushed forward, delighted as ever to see us, and sat in front of us, ears pricked and alert, an excited, expectant expression on his face.  It was a wonderful moment that sadly no one caught on camera.

The celebrant began the ceremony by welcoming everyone and explaining that we had already done the legal bit back in April at the Registry Office.  Some of her opening words bear repeating here. On marriage: getting married is not something that people do lightly or without serious thought (too right!) but it is, first and foremost, a celebration of the love which two people share. Within the circle of its love, marriage encompasses all of life’s most important relationships.  A wife and a husband are each other’s best friend, confidant, lover, teacher, critic and listener. The love between a couple deepens and enriches every facet of life.  Happiness is fuller, memories are fresher, commitment is stronger; even anger is felt more strongly, and passes away more quickly.

She then told the guests a little bit of our story, starting from our meeting, about 15 years ago when we were on the same Masters course, to the purchase of the Old Rectory.

Then I read a poem by Bee Rawlinson to illustrate the realism of my expectations.

Love me when I'm old and shocking
Peel off my elastic stockings 
Swing me from the chandeliers 
Let's be randy bad old dears

Push around my chromed Bath Chair

Let me tease your white chest hair

Scaring children, swapping dentures

Let us have some great adventures

 Take me to the Dogs and Bingo

Teach me how to speak the lingo 
Bone my eels and bring me tea            
Show me how it's meant to be

Take me to your special places

Watching all the puzzled faces

You in shorts and socks and sandals

Me with warts and huge love-handles

As the need for love enthrals

Wrestle with my dampproof smalls

Make me laugh without constraint

Buy me chocolate body paint

Hold me safe throughout the night

When my hair has turned to white

Believe me when I say it's true

I've waited all my life for you.

Then we had a handfasting ceremony.  In medieval times, couples undertook a ritual called 'handfasting' before their actual wedding day.  It involved the tying of their hands together with ribbon or cord, and once it had taken place there was no backing out!  It is thought to be the origin of the phrases “tying the knot” and “a binding agreement”.  On first hearing the words 'handfasting ceremony', I thought it would be deeply naff.  However, the explanation behind it charmed me.  It wasn't an American invention but rather something with a history and a meaning.  We decided to do it.  

The three children were called forward in turn to lay a ribbon over our joined hands and we repeated the following lines:

I give you my hand in marriage, and with my hand, my heart.
I marry you joyfully in the presence of all these people who love us.
Through all that life brings, may we continue to love, support  and cherish each other.

Then the ribbon was tied into a bow and slipped from our hands.  The bow signifies that from now on we are united of our own free will but have the tied ribbons as a symbol of our commitment.

S then read his poem by Steven Curtis Chapman:

If in the morning when you wake,
If the sun does not appear, I will be here.

If in the dark we lose sight of love,

Hold my hand and have no fear,

I will be here.

When you feel like being quiet,

When you need to speak your mind I will listen.

Through the winning, losing, and trying we'll be together,

And I will be here.

If in the morning when you wake,

If the future is unclear,
I will be here.

As sure as seasons were made for change,
Our lifetimes were made for years,
I will be here.

And you can cry on my shoulder,
When the mirror tells us we're older.
I will hold you, to watch you grow in beauty,
And tell you all the things you are to me.

We'll be together and I will be here.

 The final thing was the guests giving us a blessing:

May the sun bring you new energies by day:
May the moon softly restore you by night.
May the rain wash away any worries you may have
And the breeze blow new strength into your being.
And then, all the days of your lives
May you walk gently through the world
And know its beauty.

The ceremony ended with the celebrant urging us to remember this day, the emotions we felt, the words we spoke and heard, asking us that, when troubles come as they inevitably will, we talk, listen and open ourselves to each other.  Such good advice.

Then on with the food.  The caterers did spectacularly well.  The menu for those of a greedy disposition, like me:

Roasted Loin of Pork with apple and cinnamon compote
Local Rare Beef with horseradish battered puddings
Corn fed Chicken stuffed with sun sweet tomatoes and fresh pesto

Poached and dressed Salmon and wild trout

Bulgar wheat cucumber & red onion salad with zingy chilli and mint dressing
Balsamic roasted crimson vegetables with fresh rosemary
Crispy green leaves
Warm Baby potatoes with herb infused oil
Pomelo tomato and mozzarella salad with freshly picked basil

Rustic artisan breads with rural chutneys


Selection of Summery desserts with lush local strawberries

The speeches.  S began, telling how it had happened that we had finally married.  I'd been banned from relating this tale to my friends and relations.  As background, S had asked me to marry him before but the time wasn't right.  Knowing S, he wasn't likely to ask again so the initiative lay with me.  We had moved, we now own a house together and our finances are firmly conjoined.  We needed to sort things out legally so, to me, the easiest thing to do was to get married.  How very romantic, I hear you cry!  But wait...

Over Christmas, while I was pondering whether the time was right or not, I was browsing a website for presents and came across some cufflinks.  They were designed as QR codes, a two-dimensional barcode.  But more than that, they were actually working QR codes, which means that you can personalise them with your own message and read them with a mobile phone or other such digital device.

I dithered and dived, squealed inwardly and searched my conscience and my moral code.  It was decision time. Was I brave enough to do this again?  Was it the right thing to do?  Was I completely mad?  Then I ordered them and they were delivered in time for Valentine's Day.  We went out to lunch and I gave S the cufflinks.  He read the first: I Love You.  But couldn't read the second.  No signal in the restaurant.  No signal in the quaint Wiltshire village where we strolled after lunch.  He tried and tried, stopping at various points on the way home.  However, it wasn't until we were back at home and with use of the wretched i-Pox thing that he managed to read it: Marry Me? 

During this speech, the Church bells began to ring.  Oddly enough, given that we live next door to a church, it had not occurred to either of us that there might be a wedding there that day.  It was, after all, our day.  Although, as it turned out, I don't think that it was a wedding for which the bells tolled but rather some kind of bell ringing practice or gathering of campanologists.  It went on and on, drowning out the speeches, particularly for the elderly and hard of hearing i.e. most of the people in the room!

This was the gist of S's speech but, as he improvises and doesn't write things down, I can only summarise. However, luckily for you, I do write things down so here is the basis of my response, although there were some last minute additions, impromptu thoughts and some improvisation in response to heckling from the crowd!

As you know, I hate to let Simon have the last word…

I just want to quickly say three things.

Firstly, we wanted to share today with the people that we care most about in the world.  Most are here and I want to thank you all for making the effort to come from far and wide, and H-------, to be part of this.

However, there are three people who are not with us and I would like to remember S’s mum, who I like to think would have been delighted to see us finally tie the knot; my lovely, much missed dad, who gave S his permission to marry me and who would have danced and sung the night away; and my dear friend and neighbour, PS, who tragically died in February and who, I think, would have been both amazed and delighted to witness this event.

Finally, those of you who know S well will know that he is not as perfect or lovely as he thinks he is.  He is annoying and irritating and he drives me mad. Those of you who know me well, will know that I am not always as right as I think I am.  I infuriate, exasperate and madden S. In fact, in true wedding style, we’ve spent most of the week sniping at one another over one thing or another.  But, luckily for us, we no longer expect to live happily ever after.  We haven’t up until now and there is no reason why things should change simply because of today.  S is annoying but he is my best friend and confidante.  He is irritating but he is also my support and my soul mate.  He drives me mad but I love him.

I read an article a while ago about survivors, people who survive natural disasters or accidents.  They survive, it argued, because they check out their environment beforehand, making sure that there is a life jacket below their seats on an aeroplane, for example, and making sure that they know the exit routes.  I think, I hope, that neither of us is checking out the exit routes, despite the annoyances of the week.  But we are both entering this marriage as survivors.  We know the pitfalls, we know that there will be ups and downs, we know that happiness comes and goes, but the good thing about us is that I think we now know where the life jackets are.  And I hope that will give us the resilience that we need to survive married life.

So, I’d like you to raise your glasses and drink a toast.

To resilience!

 Then my eldest brother spoke, inventing a Northumbrian ritual of presenting the groom with a stick of floppy rhubarb and the bride with a bunch of carnations.  Enough said.

And so on to the dining room for tea or coffee and cake as the rain finally eased off.  The evening guests began to arrive and joined in the feasting.  I took some time out, retiring to my study with an over-excited dog to view the scene below.  Some groups had gathered in the marquee, others were braving the not very warm temperatures in the front garden.  Others wandered the house on impromptu tours.  There was chatter and laughter everywhere.  Having drawn breath and regrouped, I wandered downstairs for the inevitable photo calls.

H and the W Boys
Later, downstairs, the dog amiably ambled off with other people, being led by someone different every time I saw him.  Despite all the cautions, he appeared to be coping and, dare I say it, even enjoying all the attention.

As the sun began to go down, we started the barbecue, an old tin drum borrowed from neighbours of friends, although I'm not sure that they knew about it!  One of our guests, G, turned out to be a master barbecuer and took control.  S had been dubious about the need for more food but people were peckish again and wanting to build up their strength before a little bit of disco dancing.  We milled around outside, munching and chatting, the dog snaffling up any fallen sausages or burgers.  And I'm pleased to say that we had our very own gatecrasher, helpfully dressed in a Where's Wally outfit so that we can easily (or perhaps not so easily, in the case of Wally!) pick him out in the photos.  He was the brother of one of our neighbours and a delightful addition to the throng!

The disco didn't last long.  By the time everyone began to bid farewell, we had been on the go at the wedding for ten hours.  It was a long time since the dog and I had been out foraging for wild flowers.  But the day had sped by and the different events, from ceremony to lunch to coffee, tea and cake to barbecue to disco had kept everyone entertained throughout.

It went according to plan, apart from the weather, which should have been glorious.  There had been a few hairy moments but, on the whole, it was everything that I would have wished.  I had a great day surrounded by nearly all of the important people in my life but sparing thoughts for all those who had been unable to attend due to other commitments.

And I made my commitment publicly to the man who unexpectedly won my heart all those years ago and who, after all this time, has given me the courage to try again.

A Moment of Peace

Late summer.  A warm, muggy night.  Warm enough to be outside in just a cardigan - rare for me, as I normally require a duvet style skiing jacket at all times of the year.  I'm feeling so, so tired.  August, which should be downtime for me, has been so busy.  And now it's nearly over and term starts the week after next.  We have a few days off following the Bank Holiday but I can hardly afford it and know that I will suffer big time as a result, once the tsunami of term begins.

Sprocket and I were out in the garden for his evening constitutional before bedtime.  I sat in our wooden boat shaped arbor beneath the Leylandii trees and leant back for a quick snooze.  The dog leapt up beside me and we sat together, viewing the house.  We could see H, buzzing about inside, preparing to return to M---------.  We could hear passing voices.  There is something about viewing a house from outside in at dusk, when the lights are on and life goes on inside.  And you can just sit and watch.  It was a moment of peace and a moment of pleasure.  The house looked warm and inviting in the dim light.  Home.  It is hard to believe that we've been here for nearly a year.  Hard to believe that it is actually ours.  We are very lucky and, too frequently, we forget that.

Reading stuff like this, it makes it sound like some people have charmed lives.  A wonderful house, a wonderful family, a wonderful dog, a glorious garden.  But we need to take a reality check now and again.  Of course, life as portrayed in this blog is not life as it really is.  Life in reality is filled with problems.  We all have problems, each one of us.  But I have to protect the innocent and the purpose of this blog is to talk about the house and our lives in relation to it, not to purge our problems in public.  But I would hate my reader to think that we lead charmed lives.  We don't.  We are ordinary people who work hard and who confront issues on a daily basis.  We are stressed, we are tired and we argue.  We never seem to have enough time.  We worry about money and wake in the night in cold sweats at what we have done.  Please don't get the impression that life is all roses, John Lewis and builders.  It is not.

But, every now and then, on a warm summer's evening with the dog at one's side, there is a moment of peace, where the shortcomings of the house are disguised by the poor light, when it all looks perfect and all is well with the world.  By three o'clock this morning, wide awake in bed, no doubt, it will be back to reality.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night

Monday, 19 August 2013

Rectory Reminiscences

From the local magazine, date unknown.

The Old Rectory has many memories.  Jack Archer, in this article on the buildings of Highworth, remembers who lived there.

According to the church records, the Old Rectory was a vicarage in the year 1721 and most likely before that.  In about 1899, a Squire Hambridge lived there, the vicarage then being at Hill View (another local house).  After Squire Hambridge, the two Miss Hambridges, Minnie and Amelia, lived there.  They always sat in the front pew at church in view of the choir boys, who dared not speak during the sermon.

The First

Many people have asked me if I can remember how many vicars I have known during my lifetime.  The first was Canon Stevens who lived at Hill View and served in the First World War as a Chaplain and gave great comfort to the families who had suffered sad losses during the war.

When he left, Canon Wrangham came to live at the Vicarage.  He was a most likeable man and very kind to his parishioners.  After he left, the parish had a very sporting person in the Reverend Clarke Kennedy who was very keen on hunting.  Unfortunately, he was killed while out riding.

The Reverend Mr Webb then took over the ministry and again we had a very keen sportsman, rugby being his favourite sport.  He had played as an amateur international for England.  At the formation of the Local Defence Volunteers, he was one of the first in H-------- to join and when the Home Guard came into being, he was chaplain to the H--------- company.  After the war, Webb took over another parish and again we had another sporting parson in the Reverend Byron Thomas who was a very good cricketer.


We were sorry when he left to take over a larger parish.  The Reverend Mr Burnley came to live at the Vicarage.  He was of a different nature, being a splendid scholar and he could read Latin and had a good delivery of speech.  After a fairly long stay, he decided to take over a smaller parish and his successor was Mr Phillips who did everything he could for his parishioners.


When Reverend Mr Philips left, we had Reverend Mr Richard Dent, a very likeable personality.  He was a qualified solicitor and helped many of the parishioners with problems requiring his knowledge.  He was the last vicar to live at the Vicarage.

Not much about the building sadly but plenty on previous residents.  And this picture.  Sorry about the quality but it gives an impression.

And then yesterday, we received this photo, taken in 1985, before it became a business.

Friday, 16 August 2013

An Old Rectory Wedding: A Celebration in Three Acts (1)

With apologies, dear reader, if this is too dull for words.  I wanted it to act as a record of events for me but it is likely to be the opposite of entertainment for you!

See previous blog 'An Old Rectory Wedding: Setting the Scene' for background...

Act I: An Unexpected Guest

I went to get dressed at about 1130hrs.  The caterers and the Humanist celebrant were due to arrive at 1230hrs and all would begin at 1300hrs.  My dress was Next's finest.  Only £70 but I am unlikely to wear it ever again (long navy lace is not my usual thing!) so didn't want to spend a fortune, although the dresses at Monsoon are glorious.  H said it had a touch of the Vera Wang about it. Hmmm...

I had to wear a vest - it was cold and I needed something old.  So, if you're going to go 'old' then you might as well go the whole hog.  I carefully selected one of those grubby greyish things that are comfortable to wear but you'd never admit to owning.  I made S scrutinise me from the back to make sure you couldn't see it.  'No', he assured me.  Luckily, I donned my cardigan after the 'ceremony'.

Spot the Vest Competition - Everybody Else Did! 
At 1215hrs, the telephone rang.  It was my sister-in-law to say that she was on the train, daughter in tow but also her husband, my brother, E.  I haven't seen him since my father's funeral, over three years ago.  Suffice to say, for the purposes of this blog, there are issues.  He had sent a very formal card, declining our invitation.  This announcement of his imminent arrival caused a bit of a to do and a certain amount of friction.

I met the celebrant in the marquee and told her what was happening.  She responded calmly, said that she would cope with whatever happened and, unruffled, added him into her words. Luckily and by some mysterious fluke, we had one place still available at the tables so with a bit of rejigging we could accommodate the unexpected guest.

He arrived in the pouring rain and ran straight into the marquee whilst his wife and daughter ran into the house. This meant that ice could be broken before the ceremony began.  Interestingly, he had brought his Northumbrian pipes with him.  Someone (was it S?) suggested that he pipe us in.  It was a great touch and set the scene nicely for the rest of the ceremony.

Although initially disconcerted by his imminent arrival, I was delighted that he came.  There are certain events where families should gather, whatever the situation between them.  Weddings and funerals in particular, times when people gather to share in their celebrations or in their sadness.  Although it rained, there was so much warmth emanating from all our friends and family.  I was so pleased that my family were there to play their part, either as witnesses or taking roles in the ceremony.  It made the day special.  And particular thanks to the three children.  As a second marriage, it couldn't have been easy for them, although there is no acrimony between me and the boys or S and H.  However, they made the effort to be there (D flying in from abroad), played their parts with grace and seemed genuinely pleased for us.  My eldest brother was to speak after the lunch and the absence of my other brother would have left a gaping hole.  The arrival of the unexpected guest helped to make the day even more special for us.

Northumbrian Pipes - Nothing to Blow Into (Photo Courtesy of JG)

Northumbrian Pipes: Arm Action Only (Photo Courtesy of JG)

Lambs to the Slaughter (Photo Courtesy of JG)

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Dog Proof Fence

If you want instant gratification when renovating a house, then nothing can beat the erection of a fence.   The Australians (Hi Linda!) obviously think so, as they went so far as to erect the State Barrier Fence of Western Australia, formerly known as the Rabbit Proof Fence, the State Vermin Fence and the Emu Fence.  A pest-exclusion fence, it stretched 2,023 miles when it was completed in 1907. (Who needs Wikipedia?  Me, obviously, but not you, you can just read this drivel!)

 Within three days, we appear to have transformed the garden.  And, oddly enough, stretching a line across appears to have made it much bigger.  I look forward to partitioning some more and gaining further acres!

Ours is not to keep the rabbits out but to keep the dog in, a pest-inclusion fence.  It was a project that I always had in mind, although my thoughts were in the direction of a hedge rather than a fence.  Then the dog arrived and a hedge would have taken too long to grow to provide the required barrier.

The dog is eyeing it up as an interesting challenge.  It is five feet tall because he can jump up to my nose from a standing start.  There are no gaps for him to squeeze through: he can casually slip round the side of the front gate without a second thought.  His only exit route, as far as I can see, is the wrought iron gate at the other side of the house.  He'd have to dig his way under.  But then he's a terrier and that's what they do.  Somehow, I don't think that we have yet created a barrier that will confine a determined Sprocket after a cat!

Tuesday, 13 August 2013


I always love those shots that appear in glossy magazines of collections of disparate items arranged on a mantelpiece, shelf or cupboard.  They are always beautifully arranged with desirable bits and pieces.  I'm always attempting to do the same thing but it's not as easy as it looks to put a few objects together in a pleasing way.  This was my latest attempt.

The picture of the bird was bought by S in Indonesia when on his many and varied RAF travels.  By someone called Do'one, it was rolled into a scroll and then carefully and beautifully mounted before being framed.  There are three of similar design around the dining room.  The framing cost £100 at the time, the pictures next to nothing.

The picture on the left is my daughter, H, when she was two.  A bubbly haired froth of delight with a cheeky smile and an ironic turn of phrase even at that age. When I'd dressed up once, she appraised me slowly and carefully, before announcing, 'you look slightly lovely in that'.  Damned with faint praise.  The outfit that she is wearing in the photo is Laura Ashley, a lovely lace trimmed white blouse and a Campbell tartan pinafore dress.  She wore it with black woolly tights and black patent leather shoes.  Adorable.  The photo was taken by a colleague at the time, in her front room, but a great shot that captures the mischievous, funny, happy toddler that she once was.

The shell was collected from a North Carolina beach when S and I stayed in a B and B there.  Fond memories of that trip.  We went to Kittiwake on the Outer Banks where the Wright Brothers made their first flight.  And stayed in a wonderful B&B by a lake.  They'd built the house themselves and it was all pine with interesting angles.  We sat at the bottom of their garden and watched the sun sink to a brilliant red reflected across the lapping waves.  Breakfast was a chopped pear, a raspberry muffin and an egg muffin filled with ham and cheese.  It is one that I have copied many times since.  I buy a sweet muffin and chop a ripe pear.  Then in a muffin tray, break an egg into the well.  Then add some chopped ham and some grated cheese.  Break another egg on top and sprinkle liberally with more grated cheese.  Bake at about 140C in a fan oven for ten or fifteen minutes.  Check that it is golden brown before serving.  Oh, and forgot to say, spray the muffin tray with oil or brush it so that they don't stick.  And hope you weren't doing that recipe as you read.  I use two pointed dessert spoons to remove the muffins.  Place the three items, pear, sweet and savoury muffins, artistically on a plate and serve.

The clock is from M&S.  A recent purchase, bought for the guest bedroom at our previous house, which had a touch of the Jane Austen's about it, with flowered curtains, cream walls, beams and a wonderful fireplace.  The clock went well in there.  And, although it is modern, I like its design and it fits well in our Georgian rooms.

The gladioli were bought by S on Saturday when he went to get his hair trimmed.  He knows I like white tulips best but this was a very good substitute.

The photos on the right are of Aunt Alice, mysteriously called Doogie by the family, and, on the far side, my Grandma, H.  Aunt Alice was my grandma's oldest sister, the eldest of five girls and the eldest of ten in all.

Auntie Ali was courting Charles in the First World War.  My mum is not sure if they were engaged but Charles must have been serious about Ali as he had invited her to meet his family.  However, she happened to overhear his sister talking about her - and not in a positive way.  My mum thinks it may have been Ali's Gateshead accent that caused the sister to look down on her, because she was always a very smart lady and couldn't be derided for her dress.  She was also considered to be a lady in terms of her demeanour and manners - she didn't swear or drink, which was pretty refined for women in Milvain Street!

Having heard the sister's words, Aunt Alice broke off with Charles and on the rebound married Uncle Charlie, who was not only not as handsome as Charles, he also turned out to be an alcoholic.  Yes, it could be a Catherine Cookson novel! Alice's life was pretty awful, according to my mum.  They had one child, Andrew, born in December, one year and one week after my mum.  She didn't see much of him in the early years as he was confined to a sanatorium with TB.

The second photo of my grandmother, also H, provides a neat book end to the young H of the 1990s on the left.  She is standing by Auntie Ali's window in Milvain Street, where she also lived, and had perhaps just started school, but we're not sure about that.  She is wearing the outfit of a Victorian child, white petticoats, woollen tights and boots.  Not that dissimilar to the H on the left really.  There is a bow in her hair and she glowers at the camera.  One suspects that she wasn't keen to have her photo taken.

Finally, the cream tile is used as a coaster but was from our en-suite at Staverton.  And the wine stain on the Irish dresser is from the wedding party! It's called the Irish dresser because it came from Ireland.  My brother had it in his kitchen when he lived there and I agreed to care for it when he went to Japan.  He's back now and it is still here. But ready to be handed back whenever he wishes.

Just a few things on a cupboard but so much to tell.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Inigo House

I went with the Historical Society on a visit to Inigo House in the High Street.  This was described by the architectural historian, Nikolaus Pevsner, as 'the finest house of H--------'.  It is an attractive Queen Anne house, made largely of brick, which was a demonstration of wealth, eschewing the local stone in favour of more expensive materials.  Our house and walls are, of course, made of this stone.  At the back is a typical Tudor Cotswold style building but the doorway is magnificent with fluted Corinthian pilasters (rather unlike our wood weevil ridden Doric columns), with stone coins and enriched cornice and parapet.  There is a Phoenix Fire Insurance medallion on the wall, dating from 1820.


And Then-ish: 8th September 1944
We began our tour by going up to the roof from where you get glorious views across the rooftops and chimney pots of the town.

To my mind, the house is a curious cross between our current and previous homes.  With the features of the latter, the beams, the panelling, but the Georgian proportions of the former.  However, Inigo House has been strangely frozen in time.  The current owners moved there to look after the lady's elderly parents.  Her father was a well renowned local doctor.  The parents wanted to die in their beds.  Which they did.  And the house seems to have remained unchanged ever since.  It has a wonderful faded, museum-like charm.

There is a rather eery playroom with ancient toys still in situ and the measurements of each child scratched onto the wall.  The dining room was used as the consulting room at one time and the shutters have smaller shutters within them.  Pulling them back reveals eye charts, which the doctor used to determine whether his patients needed spectacles or not.

The kitchen is extraordinarily small for a house of this size.  With three sinks in a row.  Odd.

At the back of the house is a museum of doctor's equipment, which really should be open to the public. The birthing kit looks like something from Guantanamo.  It all made me very glad to be alive now and not then.  Presuming that is, that all this kit is now defunct and superseded by something much more humane.

The garden at the back of the house once stretched the entire length to link the High Street with the other main road.  This has now been sold off, including the house where the doctor would take in and try to mend alcoholics.  Before you move to the new development, which is accessed from the other road and at the bottom of the Inigo garden is a barn.  It is strewn with more ephemera: sledges and oars, ladders and pots.

We sat in the garden in the sunshine, eating cake.  Only yards from the main road but it was all oddly peaceful, as if we had slipped back in time.

It was charming, in the sense of making you feel as if a spell had been cast over you, leading you to a different place and a different decade, almost a different world.

The current owners are resigned to the fact that their children will not want to take over the house.  It is sad to think that at some stage they will move on, the house that has been trapped in time will be sold for major refurbishment and modernisation, the piles of old leather cases, the metal train, the iron bedsteads and the Singer sewing machine will be cast aside, ending up in the junk shop by the river in L-------, their joint history forgotten and lost.

It's a sad thought.  If only the resources were available to preserve such places.  What a wonderful museum it would be.  A snapshot of a life in H------- in a bygone age.