Writing 101: The Old House

The old stone building with a corrugated iron roof was probably built in the late 1800s and was my grandparents’ home. In the front yard was a massive Date Palm surrounded by lawn, shrubs and old fashioned flowers like Hollyhocks. The verandah went across the front of the house with the main door in the centre. I remember going there for lunch almost every Sunday when I was very young. On the table were ornate silver and glass cruet sets, serviette rings and on the dark wooden, carved sideboard was the brass dinner gong.

Coming in the front door the formal Lounge Room was straight ahead with a big open fireplace. Nana’s bedroom was on the right through a doorway covered by rich, red velvet curtains and inside were two single beds and a cane commode. On the dressing table were Nana’s collection of tiny Toby Jugs and her hair brush, mirror and comb set.

Grandpas’ room was out towards the back of the house and there was a little orange “spyhole” in the door so that you could see if the light was on in the room. I know he had an elaborately carved folding wooden screen in there but it wasn’t a room I saw into very often.

The best part of the house as far as I was concerned was the cellar. On two sides of the steps going down was a little dark wooden “fence” with a small gate. As I used to gingerly walk down the steps sliding my hand along the cold stone wall the musty smell would come up to meet me and it was thrilling. Down there in the depths was lemonade.

Another wonderful thing was the giant Mulberry Tree growing beside the house. I used to climb into the enormous branches and look down towards the “flat” where an old couple lived. The entrance door was visible from the Mulberry Tree, it was all part of the big house and was probably servant quarters originally. The mulberries from the tree were magnificent, big, juicy and black.

In the back yard was Nana’s fishpond surrounded by soft, hairy, grey Lamb’s Ear hiding a couple of gnomes amongst their leaves. Chicken wire covered the fishpond to foil the birds which came to steal the fish. Grandpa had a small Patio Aviary with Canaries right near the backdoor and they whistled beautifully. At the back of the yard was the wood pile and Grandpa’s shed where he made wooden carts and toys for us.

In photos the house looks quite small but in my memory it’s big with heaps of intriguing places to explore.

Nana&ladyPayneham

Does this ring any bells with you?

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