Winter is hitting back in this last month before spring. It was -2.5c when I came down at five o’clock this morning and the frost was thick and white on the cars. Obviously, I apologise to those of you who live in places where you get proper weather, but my home is insulated by the widest, shallowest harbour in the world, so we don’t tend to get that many frosts.
It was also just light enough for me to put the washing out at seven o’clock. I always said this blog was about simple pleasures, and for me, hanging the washing out the old-fashioned way on the line with the pulley that was here when we moved in 37 years ago is one of the simplest.
For one thing, I feel smug that I’m not using the tumble drier so I’m protecting the environment and the clothes and keeping my electricity bill a little lower. For another, the washing smells so lovely when I take it in. And maybe, most of all, I am carrying on a story that’s been being written by every woman who’s ever lived in this house.
During the first lockdown, I did one of the many things I’d always meant to and researched local history, so I know our house was probably built in 1886. It belonged to the Wimborne Estate till we bought it so there aren’t Land Registry records to confirm this, but it’s a terraced house and the houses on either side were built then so it seems like a pretty safe bet.
In the 1940’s it was rented to a family who were evacuated from the Dorset village of Tyneham when the Army took it over to prepare for D-Day and never gave it back. You can read more about the place in the Amy Hammond book that’s due out in September, but I now know that he was an enthusiastic gardener who worked for the Bond family, which tied in with what my former elderly neighbour told me about he and his son being able to stick a broom handle in the ground and make it grow! The hydrangea, the yellow rhododendron and the forsythia that is just thinking about starting to flower all date from his time.
We bought the house in 1986, which has a nice symmetry, and if I say that there was no kitchen and there were no power points upstairs you’ll get an idea of how much we had to do and are still doing as we try to honour the house’s spirit. When we moved in, we were the youngest couple in the street. Now we’re among the older ones and it’s home in a way that no other place has ever been to me and I can’t imagine wanting to leave it.
As an Army brat we moved a lot and I loved that too, but the older I get, the more precious this place becomes to me. I can see the hospital where my children were born from the bedroom window. Ten minutes walk in either direction takes me to the sea. The garden is becoming how I want it right now, and I’m not daft enough to believe it’ll ever be finished and I don’t want it to be either. And my washing is hanging on the line, blowing stiffly in the breeze because it’s freezing cold and I’m in here with the central heating that my predecessors would have loved and a hot cup of tea. Life is good, and better is to come as spring draws closer and closer…