Homes in general fascinate me - the interior satisfies my general, uncontrollable nosiness into the lives of others - and the exterior the architecture and the materials used in the construction.
Since a very young age I have shown an interest, probably due to the fact my father was in the building profession. At every opportunity he would point out interesting things to educate us little ones in the hope that one day it would all seep into the dark recesses of our brains.
I often wondered how on a Sunday trip out in the car, (yes we regularly squashed a family of six into what was in those days regarded as a ’family saloon’) he managed to see so much when he should have been concentrating on the road ahead!
Anyway I digress…so thanks to my Dad his offspring have acquired building knowledge of varying degrees according, I guess, to who was actually listening at the time.
My youngest sister wins hands down in the knowledge field and constantly surprises me with little titbits like, ‘Did you know the number of chimneys on a house used to relate directly to the wealth of a family?’ Gawd love her….
My obsession with houses started very young. I was about 8 or 9 when Mum and Dad went house hunting, upsizing from our little Victorian semi and of course we all tagged along and I instantly fell in love with an old, run-down vicarage in the town of Poole.
I felt I belonged there. That it was meant to be. I caressed the gently worn, brass door handles and wondered how many people had touched them before me. I quietly explored its musty, empty rooms and winding staircases, stared deep into the tea-stained, stone kitchen sink and felt I was home.
Unfortunately, my parents didn’t feel the same way and I cried myself to sleep that night with an intense longing and aching to be within its walls once again. It pained me to ever pass it again and I would make a determined effort to always look away for fear it would cast its spell over me once more. Sadly, a few years later it was demolished to make way for a ring road.
We were taught to always look up from the pavement when in villages and towns to really appreciate the buildings and their sheer variety. I recently did just that in St Albans and wandered through the back streets with my camera, snapping away at its plethora of beautifully preserved, period houses.
On returning home I couldn’t resist translating one particular row of houses in Albert Street into textile art - minus, of course, the dreaded wheelie bins that seem to blight our land.
One day, when I win the lottery, I’ll have the period house I have always yearned for and visitors will be glad to know I’ll be able to enlighten them on the finer points of the building.
Thanks Dad – I for one was was listening after all!