Wednesday, 18 April 2012
We would drive down to Wiltshire to visit my dads sister when she was the headmistress of a school there, that's the school-building in my header photograph. There was also a tied-cottage where she and my Nanny lived a little way from the school, a perk that went with the position. It was the end cottage in a terraced row, with a long wrap-around garden to one side, and all that lush meadow out at the rear, and to the front across a lane in the purple distance arose Roundway hill long reputed to be a haunted place.
There were enough rooms in the cottage for us to stay and I remember mostly the gentility of the place somehow. Those rooms with soft moss-green carpets, bookcases filled with interesting illustrated books, 'The Yellow Book' with it's racy drawings of Aubrey Beardsley, poetry books galore and all of the Wainwright books, watercolours of the lake-district and mountains, always a copy of The Telegraph folded to an unfinished crossword puzzle on the coffee table or on the arm of Nanny's chair. I'm trying to think of how to describe the atmosphere that I can still call to mind after almost fifty years. A shushed quiet, a feeling of time slowed down, even though there were clocks that ticked and hummed, kettles that boiled, tea that was served in tinkling china teacups brought to the table on a silver-tray, voices that were lowered, movements that were slower, books that were read instead of television watched, good manners and respectability. A teacher's sanctuary.