Saturday, 12 May 2012

Walnut Cottage

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.


marigold jam said...

I am sure the new tenant will love the cottaage and have as much fun in it as his/her father did! I am sure you can't wait though you will have a while in which to clear it all out in readiness won't you? I thought for a moment you were going to say ou were planning to move in yourself!

Zhoen said...

Life does turn on a dime, and everything changes.

Simplify the garden, and congratulations.

Relatively Retiring said...

Marigold: well, yes, it's a tempting thought - the ultimate down-size! And it's going to need a bit of time to make it fit for occupation again.

Zhoen: thank you, and yes, everything changes! The complicated garden is ideal for swings and racetracks and hide and seek, so will have to stay - just needs more assiduous weeding and pruning.

gz said...


The Elephant's Child said...

Olie Gark the big bear is enchanting. I am so happy for you, and love your enthusiasm. Weeding and pruning are never ending, but when you have a purpose for it ...

Relatively Retiring said...

gz: any grandmotherly advice will be welcomed.

Elephant's Child: the big bear is a really interesting Merrythought, very cuddly, but would probably scare the nappy off a baby.

The Elephant's Child said...

All the more reason to keep him yourself for a while longer.

Jane said...

It's an interesting state of flux, isn't it. Will try and pop round next week.

Leslee said...

Oh, congratulations! How exciting, and such a lovely little cottage. Today in the U.S, it's Mother's Day, so I wish you Happy Mother's Day from across the pond.

Joan said...

What happy, happy news!

Isabelle said...

Oh, lovely! As you might have gathered from my blog, I'm rather in favour of grandchildren!

Relatively Retiring said...

Elephant's Child: Yes, a few more years hanging around here for Ollie Gark!
Jane: an eventful time, indeed.
Leslee: thank you for the good wishes. i do hope things are going well for you.
Joan: thank you for reading and leaving a comment.
Isabelle: you have a very inspirational (and photogenic)grandson! I particularly admire the Mr Men laugh.

pohanginapete said...

Wonderful news :^)

I trust you put the top back on the pen after christening the cottage — or is that now part of the tradition? (You'll gather I loved that line.)

Fire Bird said...

exciting news - nothing stays the same for long...

Relatively Retiring said...

P.Pete: isn't it great? Another small person to engage with slime and slugs!
Plastic boxes of dried up felt-tips are emblematic of family life (and could well produce another blog posting).
Fire Bird: yes, all part of a wonderful pattern of growth and change.

Molly said...

How absolutely wonderful! You're going to make a great grandma for that little walnut!

You have so many great stories.....I chuckled at the picture of you hiding out with the sherry bottle!

Molly said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Relatively Retiring said...

Molly: thank you, and yes, every mother/grandmother needs a hiding place!

Joy said...

Walnut Cottage is wonderful. My husband is going to build me a little 'playhouse' next spring. He's going to use salvaged wood and supplies. I'm excited about it and I have everything I need already to decorate it. And wash the windows.