Hopes and Dreams

Homes, Gardens, Animals 7

We prepared our table of memories, Candida bringing a great assortment of DIY materials, pastry cutters, and with a trug, old dogs collars, and a 60’s lava lamp we were set.

In small groups, with a luxury of space, we shared the experience of our homes lives:

G+J took on a 38 roomed crumbling house in Kent before moving to Kenya where they built their bungalow home beside a golf course, G doing the drawings for the building when teaching in class of girls who were happy to get on with their reading books.

R & M lived on a boat, moving to houseboat, and finally a house, as they ran the boat yard. Robin working on his Lotus Elan and the Go cart he made for his son
Using lawn mover wheels . After retirement they lived in Spain, buying a house with a swimming pool, before settling in Bungay.

N & L bought their first maisonette gradually added furniture, all secondhand, including a 3-piece suite for £10 and, before they could afford carpet, they used the local newspaper to cover the floor. After moving in to a semi-detached with a deep embankment at the bottom of the garden, and a railway line that Norman only really noticed if the trains stopped running or if they were doing maintenance work. Only later Lesley found out that the grandchildren had often climbed over the fence, walking along beside the tracks to spot the local foxes.

Lesley’s father’s family came from a Welsh mining community; money was tight and owning your own house was often the only sort of pension you could hope to achieve. Norman and Lesley visited her parents in Bexhill and took her parents out in the car for a drive. They stopped at the brow of a hill. ‘You see that house down there?’ said Lesley, “well, we’ve just bought it.” They didn’t want the parents to worry about whether or not they could afford it, so they didn’t tell them their plans until they had achieved them.

G&J, both married before, bought different elements to their fist home: she brought two children and a large dog whilst he provided the flat and the ability to batch cook spaghetti bolognese.

Their next home was a wreck of a Georgian house, that luckily came with fantastic hulk of builders – women would hang around outside for a glimpse of one of them. Next was a house on the Thames at Sunbury. Gavin was the gardener and grew bright red geraniums. He once planted 200 camomile plants to make a camomile lawn for Jan.

R&I began married life in a rented flat, with the tin bath hung on the wall! Two up 2 down in Walthamstow. Irene made Roy a packed lunch every day, and Roy handed over his pay packet at the end of his working week. Irene once wrapped the Triumph Herald around a lamp post!

W&J had bought in all the sale’s particulars for their 3 homes they’d lived in. All sparingly and stylishly furnished. We’re designers, explained Will. Street names, and places eagerly exchanged with G&J who moved from Chester to Gloucester Avenue (working at the Tavistock Clinic) to Suffolk and Model Farm, Lindsted, . J regaled us with the story of

How I turned a Cortina into a home in Islington’

After tea, our pets arrived. Candida’s a smelly Ram arrived in style. Swiftly followed by Virginia trying to persuade her pouch (Rise or Shine?) to move forward, which he did then cocked his leg, and chewed all the legs on a Chippendale. There was Geronimo, the ginger tom. A cat which ate the whole leg of roast lamb, chewing like a dog. Jackie had a black lab called Barron. A goldfish called Blake 7? Pippa had a chocolate brown Burmese cat, which she passed around for us all to stroke. Gill showed us photographs of Dinah her beautiful cat. John had a dog called Bonkers. Jo a cat she called King swing belly. A Terrier called Gulliver as he travelled. Hazel a chestnut horse who lived for 39 years.

We closed with some well known related songs: How much is that Doggie in the window, What’s new Pussycat, Horsey Horsey, A frog he would a wooing go, Mares eats oats, Nelly the elephant, I’m a gunu…

It was our penultimate meeting, we were bonded as a group, familiar and comfortable with each other, new connections made, stories exchanged.

We would meet next week for our last session. However, we were assured of a longer future, and would be welcomed back once a month to the Pear Tree.

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