Saturday, 12 May 2012
A quarter of a century ago two small boys used this play-house in all sorts of ways, but mainly, being boys, they used it as a weapons store. They had interesting sticks and stones, and jars containing mixtures of sand, water and food colouring. There were plastic spacemen, tractors and dented Dinky cars. They had books and drawing paper and a big box of felt-tipped pens with all the tops left off.
They had the table you can see here, and little chairs, plastic crockery and a teapot that really poured.
They entertained friends here, with sandwiches and biscuits and cakes, and the teapot filled with orange juice to pour all over themselves and each other.
People got shut in and shut out, fingers were pinched in the door and there were howls of rage and indignation. Small girls visiting tried to instil a sense of order, wanting to clean the windows and make people sit down and eat nicely.
It was a good hiding place. I even hid in it once or twice myself with the sherry bottle when things got really tough.
Then, inevitably, the play-house became more useful for bikes and toboggans, and sadly and much later, as a wheelchair store. More recently it housed all that stuff that is waiting to be taken to the tip. A sad little dumping ground. But not for much longer.
A few weeks ago I went out to the little house with a thick black pen, and I wrote the name Walnut Cottage on the door. The little house is due for a shake-up, a clean-up, a thorough revitalisation in the spring sunshine, because a new occupant is coming.
During the cold dark winter I have been thinking seriously about downsizing. Perhaps it is foolish, or even selfish to maintain a family-sized home and a complicated labour-intensive garden now that I am alone. Perhaps I should be sensible and make the move to a smaller place while I am still capable of it, the dread always being of leaving a mess for others to sort out.
So I was looking.
I was thinking.
I was planning to be sensible.
But on Mothers' Day I was told that I am going to be a grandmother, and everything changed.
At that stage my grandchild was the size of a walnut, hence the name Walnut Cottage.
How can it be that a walnut-sized person has the ability to change everything?
And yet it is so.
Of course, the play-house will be needed, as will the family-sized house and the complicated garden. The long top landing is needed for the Brio railway, safely stored in the attic for exactly this purpose, the paths around the rockery are perfect for a tricycle, a pedal car.
I will need to fence off the pond....but not just yet.
Walnut Cottage, Ollie Gark the big bear and I wait in the sunshine, which suddenly feels full of joy.