I dreamt of it last night, our beach shack, and reckon it’s a glaring sign that I need to get back over here to my blog.
There was no TV and no phone. The sum total of electrical goods in the house were an ancient fat fridge, a light in each room and a reading lamp in the sitting room. The bathroom only had a candle for years, until my father rigged up a single bulb with a cord into the house which we thought was the ultimate in luxury. The stove was gas and the water out of the taps was brack. On top of the fridge was a battery-operated radio which told us the news and played us songs.
The second drawer from the right was the Treats Drawer. Every December it contained an enormous Christmas cake (baked by my mother in September and doused with brandy regularly until it's trip to the seaside) wrapped in tin foil, which got progressively smaller as the holiday progressed. The drawer smelt deliciously dark and rich. In there, too, were the sweets and chocolate bars: two sweets or two pieces of chocolate each afternoon after lunch when my parents went to rest.
We drank water from the rain water tank which lived out the back door and to the right, a place that, when we were small and scared at night, flitting out at breakneck speed to fill the orange water jug, was full of dark shadows, possibly containing wolves. The square of light that fell on the grass from the kitchen window didn’t quite reach far enough to light the little tap. We made it through twenty years of holidays without being gulped down by wolves I’m pleased to report. The water was sweet and delicious and we ignored the mosquito larvae that floated about in it. "It's just protein," said my Mother.
If we wanted to phone someone, which of course became an absolute necessity when we hit adolescence, we had to walk over the bridge to the post office and use the ‘tickey boxes’. For our weekly dose of television (Who’s The Boss, on a Wednesday), we’d go over to the lovely old couple next door, The Cleghorns. We’d watch while the old man, Theo, ate Provitas for dinner and told us stories of 'The Olden Days' (far more interesting, even, than Who's The Boss.)
It had a specific smell, which is hard to define, but I smelt it in my dream last night and woke up feeling holiday blissful. It was a combination of grass mats, seaside mould and pure, unadulterated happiness.
It’s almost as if that house was built of love and happiness (at the risk of sounding schmaltzy). It saw me grow up and provided some of the very happiest moments in my life. When I went to university (60km down the road), my parents gave me the keys and we went down regularly for weekends (and sneaky week days, which my parents were blissfully unaware of).
It was there I had my first crush, then first fell in love and there that I lost my virginity (a fact my parents definitely would wish to be blissfully unaware of, I'm sure). I can’t think of a better place for it, all of it. That house, if it could speak, could tell many fabulous stories. There are more, but let me stop there.
I miss it.
World Penguin Day
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