Saturday, 17 May 2014

The art of timing, part 37...............

.............   or so.

I had to go up to Scotland last week for my mother's funeral on Thursday.  In the morning, I went out to Kirkpatrick Durham, the wee village in Galloway where I was brought up. My parents, living in London in the 1960s, bought a pair of wee cottages from my grandparents for the sum of £100, and set about having them combined and re-built into a larger family home for us - 2 adults and 4 children.  When I got there on Thursday, I took a photo of the house - Ktima, named after the town in Cyprus where my parents married in 1959 - for putting into the work I'm doing on my family tree on my mother's side. Just after I'd done it, a woman with a dog walked up towards the house and I asked if she lived there. She said yes,  she'd been there for 27 years. I explained to her who I  was and what I was doig and she bowled me over by inviting me inside to look around the house and garden. Very little has changed inside the house really; still got the staircase that was put in - open stairs, very 1970 - and nothing has been altered in the layout of the rooms, apart from one small wall in the kitchen being removed to open it up. It was put there by our builder to form a separate dining area. The garden is really quite different, not much sign of the huge vegetable and fruit beds my father and mother had, the original elder tree is long gone, as is the copper beech hedge my father planted. Still, it's well tended and retains its original character, which pleased me. The day before, I had secured a big boxful of photos that my mother had (they will make regular appearances on here, I am sure, so many of my father and relatives, all sorts of things).  Among them were three photos relevant to the above tale - two of how the cottages were before conversion, and one during the building work. Looking at them now, I personally would have much preferred they had been left as they were!  Not my decision back then, and  the converted house remains my favourite of all the ones I've lived in so far.


This is Ktima today; the clematis on the front has recently replaced the original clematis Montana that my mother planted in the same spot all those years ago.  Otherwise, little changed apart from a new front door.

The two wee cottages. One was called Oaklea (I have a postcard from an uncle in the army addressed to his mother there), and my grandparents lived in it. The other was rented out to Sanny and Annie. When the time came, he refused to leave the house, and my grandpa had to threated him with stoving the roof in on top of him unless he moved out! The railings to the right of the picture are part of the old school, where I went (handy, right next door) for several years until the new school as built at Springholm.  Hard to tell who the children are in the pic, but probably me and my older sister, up there  from London with my parents to look at the cottages. I don't remember much about the inside of them then, apart from a large kitchen table with a silver ladle in the drawer, and a rather nasty smell, mouldy, musty, damp  The wee window on the gable end in the top picture is still there; we used to watch out of it up past the kirk to see when the school bus was coming for Springholm, and hoy off round the corner to see if we could beat it to the bus stop!

Building work in progress.  Work was done by a firm owned by a man in the village, Albert Charteris; his daughter Elizabeth was in the year above me at school.
When they sold the cottages, my grandparents moved down the village to Victoria Street.  Grandpa continued to keep hens at the top of our garden, and came up twice a day to feed them with scraps and peelings in an old plastic bucket. I can see him now, coming round the corner swinging his bucket!  This is their new cottage.  I'd really like to think the folk living in it have kept the cast iron range which was in daily use by my granny.  Maybe next time I'm back, I'll knock on their door and ask.

1 comment:

Dartford Warbler said...

I am sorry to hear about your mother. A difficult time for you.

How interesting to see how the house has evolved since your parents restored it. Going inside must have been a bitter-sweet experience, but reassuring that the house is still loved and cared for.